Harvesters officials said move to Lawrence came after unsuccessful bid to find warehouse in Topeka

After a year of looking for a new warehouse in Topeka, Harvesters officials said they found a suitable location in Lawrence.
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 5:05 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - After a year of looking for a new warehouse in Topeka, Harvesters officials said they found a suitable location in Lawrence.

The announcement of Harvesters moving its Topeka warehouse at 215 S.E. Quincy to Lawrence came this week.

Stephen Davis, the president and chief executive officer of Harvesters, told 13 NEWS that the move was necessitated by a major construction project along the Polk-Quincy Viaduct on Interstate 70 near the north edge of downtown Topeka.

As part of the project, several businesses and buildings will have to be moved to make room for the newly configured roadway.

Among the buildings that have to move is Harvesters.

“The Polk-Quincy Viaduct project impacted us,” Davis said while standing inside the Harvesters warehouse in Topeka, “because the new direction of the viaduct will literally run through the middle of our building.

“It does displace us, so we had to find a new location.”

Harvesters’ Topeka location has approximately 45,000 square feet. The new location in Lawrence will have nearly double that amount, with a current total of 75,000 square feet and a 10,000-foot expansion increasing the space to 85,000 square feet.

Davis says Harvesters is projecting a move to the remodeled facility in Lawrence in the spring of 2024.

The Lawrence location is just north of Interstate 70 on the Kansas Turnpike. The Lawrence warehouse is at 1220 Timberedge Road and formerly housed the Reuter organ company.

The Topeka warehouse is valued at around $2.5 million. Davis said Harvesters has been in talks with the Kansas Department of Transportation on a final price for the building, which is to be demolished as part of the Polk-Quincy Viaduct project.

However, no sale price has been announced to date.

Davis said Harvesters had hoped to remain in Topeka but couldn’t find a suitable warehouse that had the amount of square footage, ceiling height and highway access that it needed.

“We really wanted to stay in Topeka and Shawnee County and did a year-long search,” Davis said. “We worked with an agent, we worked with several brokers, to try to find an existing location that we could convert to meet our needs.

“We looked at potentially building a new building, and right now, the cost to do that is incredibly expensive. So our path forward was really going to need to be an existing location and remodel versus brand-new construction out of the ground.

“After a looking for a year in Topeka, we could not find a location that met our unique needs and so we found an existing building in Lawrence.”

In addition to its Topeka warehouse, Harvesters also has a warehouse in Kansas City, Mo.

The organization, which is funded through donations, serves 10 counties in western Missouri and 16 counties in northeast Kansas.

Of the Kansas counties, 13 are served from the Topeka warehouse, which runs four semitrailers out of its location. The Topeka location also has 18 positions, and employees will be able to relocate to Lawrence once the new warehouse is open.

Harvesters provides food items to area residents through distributions that take place at locations including area churches and religious organizations.

Davis said Harvesters provides food items to around 225,000 people each month in the 26 counties it serves in both Kansas and Missouri.

Davis said no interruption of services is expected because of the warehouse move from Topeka to Lawrence.

“We’re committed to serving our 13 counties which, of course, includes Topeka and Shawnee County,” Davis said. “We know that there’s food insecurity in the entire region. We know there’s food insecurity in Topeka and Shawnee County, and our mission is to make sure that we support our agencies that in turn can help serve our neighbors, and so we are dedicated to that.

“Our need is as high as it’s ever been,” he added. “Our current need is actually as high as the majority of the pandemic. We’ve shifted from a health-care crisis, which of course the pandemic is still here and still going on, but now it’s more of an economic crisis because of what’s happening with inflation and just the challenges that our working families are having to make ends meet.”

Harvesters also utilizes volunteers to help deliver food items to people in its service area.

Davis said he is confident Harvesters will continue to have plenty of volunteer support after its move to Lawrence.