Downtown Businesses May Lose $75K In Grant Money

By: Ariana Cohen Email
By: Ariana Cohen Email

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)-The Topeka City Council's budget discussion may affect downtown businesses.

Council members suggested removing $75,000 in grant money that Downtown Topeka Inc. awards to people revitalizing and retaining downtown buildings.

Since 2001, Downtown Topeka Inc. has funded 107 projects through its grant program. The program is financed through the city's general fund, but right now, it's on the chopping block.

Chris Schultz fulfilled his dreams of owning a restaurant when he opened Field of Greens in the heart of Topeka.

"I was always drawn to downtown," said Schultz.

His dream was helped with a $7,500 grant from Downtown Topeka Inc. that allowed him to install a handicapped accessible bathroom in his restaurant.

"I don't think without that help with those costs to putting in a restroom on top of costs of starting a business, I really don't think I would have been able to pull it off or make it happen," says Schultz.

This year, DTI money also helped finance renovations for Architect One. But at a budget session this week, council members voted 5-2 to remove the $75,000 DTI uses to fund the program.

"It's not cool! It really is not cool because I know that this has afforded me the chance to live my dream," said Schultz.

Topeka city council members say their decision isn't final yet.

"We are in discussion stage right now and its only been recommendations," said council member Elaine Schwartz.

But if they if they follow through with the decision, DTI President Vince Frye says it could affect efforts to revitalize downtown businesses.

"To eliminate that money would be devastating to our efforts," says Frye.

Schultz hopes the council reconsiders so his restaurant can continue to thrive.

"We need to see growth and we need to see positive change," says Schultz.

The council holds another budget hearing Saturday and could also discuss the funding at next week council meeting. They must finalize a budget by August 25th.

631 SW Commerce Pl. Topeka, Kansas 66615 phone: 785-272-6397 fax: 785-272-1363 email:
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