Construction site at Kanza Park sparks questions from Topeka city council

Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 6:59 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - With overgrown grass, partly finished buildings and unused materials one construction project in Kanza Park raised questions.

The site is owned by New York-based Calamar Construction.

The company’s Executive Vice President Jerry Hill told 13 NEWS Wednesday the plan is for the site to become a 55 and up living ocmmunity.

He said construction began in early 2020.

After months without work, District 1 Councilwoman Karen Hiller, who represents the area and District 8′s Spencer Duncan had concerns.

“Anytime I see a project regardless of district that starts and stops and isn’t completed we’ve got to step in and make sure that project keeps going and gets completed,” Duncan said.

He said he reached out to Calamar several times before they eventually got back to City of Topeka staff recognizing their permits had expired and wanted to resume the project.

“When it’s this large and this half-built my concern with it we just have a big abandon project and then we’d be left with this forever and that’s not OK anywhere in the city.”

Hill said the pandemic’s effect on the workforce, supply chain and the lumber cost all slowed the project for the last three to four months.

He added framing work should be fully manned next week.

Duncan said the city will hold Calamar to their promise.

“I think first you let them know we’re paying attention we’re not just gonna sit idly by and let it sit not being worked on,” he said.

“Then I think the second thing is you let them know what steps we can take as a city to complete it or whatever that process is.”

Hill said third-party inspectors look at the materials monthly to make sure they are still safe, and the reports he’s received listed no major concerns with them.

He also said the location on land affiliated with Topeka Public Schools will allow for collaboration between students and senior residents.

“It’s all positive and I’m glad developers are giving us assurances but we got to stand next to them and keep pushing it along,” Duncan said.

In a statement to 13 NEWS Topeka Public Schools in part:

“Topeka Public Schools is not involved with the construction project. The real estate contract with Calamar provides some partnership opportunities involving TPS students and retired staff once the project is complete and operational. Once it is completed, we will be in communication with them again.”

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