State Committees and Topeka City Council want Docking Building renovation

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 5:35 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - There are plans to renovate downtown Topeka’s docking building, but legislative leaders still need to decide what they want to put inside.

The Joint Committee for State Building Construction recommended taking the 60-plus-year-old building down to a three-story facility that would mostly be used for events.

City Council Member Spencer Duncan is worried the Docking Building will have to compete with two event spaces in Topeka already and the impact it could have amongst each other.

“And then, their recommendation didn’t really take into account any of the historic importance of the Docking building. Are they going to preserve any of that? There was no direction of that and those are my two primary concerns,” he said.

Duncan said a letter from City Manager Brent Trout stating, from his understanding, the council would support it going down to three stories because they did want it to compete with other lease-holders who hold staff offices in downtown Topeka. He said the letter said didn’t necessarily support an event space but did think it said they were okay with it being three-level and non-office space-related.

“I will tell you my disappointment in that is that we’ve had no discussion amongst the council privately or in public about what our position should be and that should have happened. It still can and it may be a little late in this process although no final decisions were made, but I think we need to be more involved. And that’s on us as a council to make sure that we’re more proactive.”

He said if the docking building is to remain in place, it should be restored and stand as it does today, with all floors in place.

“There’s been a lot of talk in the legislature about the government not competing with the private sector and this seems to fly in the face of that and so if that’s what they mean. Then let’s stick to that. Like I said, there are two events spaces literally right next door to the Docking building. What’s the impact to them. My goal as a councilperson is to make sure we’re looking out for our local businesses first.”

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