FORGE members get firsthand look at how Evergy Plaza came to be

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TOPEKA (KSNT) – Members of FORGE were given a firsthand look Wednesday at what it took to construct Evergy Plaza, from the concept stage to the final paving stone installed.

In 2014, community leaders were presented with a consultant’s findings on how to recharge downtown Topeka. The final recommendation from that study was to build a community gathering space where the citizens of Topeka could come together.

“FORGE is a young professionals group in Topeka and Shawnee County. We provide fun events, networking, social gatherings and leadership opportunities,” said Kelli Maydew, FORGE Executive Director. “FORGE has an initiative called VIP tours and it is a behind the scenes all access look within Topeka organizations and hot spots like Evergy Plaza.”

Members of FORGE were able to meet the team that designed and built Evergy Plaza including, Zack Snethen of HTK Architects; Pat Michaelis, Chairman of DTI Foundation; Vince Frye, former president of Downtown Topeka Inc.; John Knight, Director of Evergy Plaza; Kelly Foster, MCP Group Contractors; and Kurt Young, design and construction manager.

The leadership of the Topeka Lodging Association began early discussions in 2014 and 2015 about the possibility of increasing the existing lodging tax by 1% to provide funding to design and build a public plaza. This effort was ultimately approved by the Topeka City Council and as a result $3.43 million was set aside for the construction of a plaza. 

The Topeka Lodging Association also approved the establishment of a $1.00 per room assessment on every hotel room sold in Topeka. This will generate approximately $400,000 each year for ten years to subsidize the daily operation of the plaza.

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