TOPEKA (KSNT) – The Emporia City Commission set up a public hearing for a downtown renovation project during its meeting Wednesday night. Developers are looking to renovate the building that includes 714, 716, and 718 Commercial Street.
The project would renovate the upper story to include 10 apartments. The bottom floor would include temperature-controlled storage with elevator access.
Emporia Main Street helped a series of investors come together to form a development company to take on this project. Executive Director Casey Woods said there is a lot of interest in the project.
“We already have a lot of people that have expressed interest in moving downtown, but they like the idea of having elevator access and temperature-controlled storage to move out of their current homes,” Woods said. “Empty-nesters and folks that are young professionals and into a more urban-sort of lifestyle.”
Last session, lawmakers passed a law expanding the type of projects that qualify for Rural Housing Incentive Districts to include Kansas Main Streets and downtown districts. Developers are planning to take advantage of this to get reimbursed for certain aspects of the renovation.
Woods said this change could result in more development in downtowns across the state.
“Oftentimes in our downtowns, we’ll see different commercial sections that are broken up into bays with larger underutilized or completely vacant upper stories,” Woods said. “That’s something that is occurring throughout Kansas.”
The public hearing for this project is on October 20. If the public hearing goes well, the city of Emporia will send documents to Lt. Governor and Commerce Secretary David Toland. He needs to sign off on the project for it to get RHID funding.
If approved, Woods said developers plan to start construction immediately. He said they hope to have apartments ready to lease by August 2022.