TOPEKA (KSNT) – A downtown Topeka project has been in the making for several years, and is trying to get on track for completion.

Astra Innovation is an animal science, technology, research and agriculture innovation center. It’s been said by a project lead that this project would be a transformational project for downtown Topeka.

The innovation center would bring a state-of-the-art laboratory and collaborative space. Although the funding to make it happen isn’t exactly all there at the moment. When the project was first approved the price tag was $14.5 million. Now, two years later, the current cost estimate to make it happen is over $21 million. While it’s believed the economic impact of this project over the next decade will be in the billions, problems like an increased cost in construction and the main tenant dropping out of the project have made it difficult to get started.

“The struggle is two-fold,” Bioreality Principal Stan Wendzel said. “One is as far as tenants out, we’ve really only had one that’s dropped out, but unfortunately, it was our largest one. It was our anchor. But that happens. The other big issue has been construction cost escalation.”

With an original target for the project set at 50% preleased, organizers have now realized that’s no longer realistic with the main tenant no longer being part of the project. Wendzel says because of that, more funding needs to be brought to the project to subsidize that lower level of preleasing.

As a result, Bioreality has been working to bring in additional grants and forms of tax credits to bridge the economic gap and bring this project to life. Wendzel will be back in December to discuss with JEDO where they’re at with the project and says they should know by then if they’ve been awarded new market tax credits.