Council to consider College Hill project

Julie Knapp

The College Hill renovation project has been put to a stop, and until further action is taken by Southwind LLC developers and the Topeka City Council, it will continue to stay that way.

Despite the Topeka City Council and USD 501’s approval, the Shawnee County commissioners stopped the authorization of the TIF district Jan. 5, saying that establishing the district would have an adverse effect on Shawnee county. The authorization of the TIF district would have allowed the city to buy the land that Southwind Capital LLC wants to develop. The city could have then used emininant domain to seize two of the properties that have not been sold through negotiations.

Last Tuesday, a resolution was introduced to the Topeka City Council canceling the TIF district, and this Tuesday they will vote on the resolution, because it is required to abolish the project if the county doesn’t approve of it.

This Tuesday, the Topeka City Council is also likely to vote on a bill introduced by Clark Duffy, a Topeka city councilmember, that calls for a public improvement project that would include “the acquisition, relocation and demolition of identified properties” in the College Hill area. According to Duffy’s bill, it would cost the city $4 million.

While the city council considers these projects, negotiations between land owners and Southwind Capital LLC are at a standstill.

According to Jerry Morgan, owner of Jerry’s Bike Shop,1415 SW Lane, he received a letter from Southwind Capital LLC on Jan. 10.

“The letter said that all negotiations are off the table,” said Morgan.

Morgan has supported the redevelopment of the area, but doesn’t want it to be at his expense.

Morgan is proposing that the developers incorporate Jerry’s Bike Shop into the plans, and that he would like to continue negotiations with them. Morgan said there are seven housing units, and he doesn’t see why the developers can’t just build six housing units and leave his bike shop there.

While Bill Newsome, a partner for Southwind Capital LLC, told the Topeka Capital-Journal that Morgan’s proposal was impossible, he could not be reached by the Washburn Review.

Morgan said he was against the acquisition of his property by the city council.

“I don’t think we should allow the government to take the property of one person and give it to another, allowing them to make millions of dollars,” said Morgan.