New plaza to appear in downtown Topeka

In early January, Topeka is embracing new construction. Not the road construction that you see every time you drive to campus for class. Topeka is shifting its focus to a downtown gathering spot for the community.

The new Evergy Plaza will be available to the public in 2020, and it will contain a large performance stage, a digital screen, several programmed fountains and it will be able to be convert into an ice skating rink in the winters.

It will be located on the east side of the 600 block of Kansas Avenue. Demolition is scheduled to begin on the Jan. 10, but it will not be open to the public until March 2020. While construction will take some time, it is expected to be worth it.

President and CEO of Downtown Topeka Inc., Vince Frye, said that the estimated cost for the entire project ranges between $8 million and $9 million. Capitol Federal and Evergy both donated $2.5 million a piece. This donation makes up more than half of the required money for the the plaza. Evergy is a product of Westar and KCP&L’s integration.

In addition to the donations made by Capitol Federal and Evergy, other funds for the project were raised through a variety of different ways, such as local businesses, private fundraising and Topeka Lodging Association.

It has been heavily based on successful plazas in Arizona and South Dakota. The CEO of Downtown Tucson Partnership, Kathleen Eriksen, warns us of the concerns in regards to our new plaza. Erikson was a first hand on the establishment of the plaza in Arizona that we showed interest in. She said that simply building the plaza is not enough.

“Security and programming are essential to the upkeep and successfulness of the plaza in Tucson,” Eriksen said. “The same will be the case for Topeka.”

According to the South Dakota Main Street Square, which is the plaza we have shown great interest in, it hosts over 200 events per year and has proven to be a destination that the whole family enjoys. We can only hope that our beloved town will get to experience a community-oriented venue like this.

This new addition to our community is something that our local government has been pushing for some time now. With the hopes of revitalizing our city and bringing the community closer together, Evergy Plaza was born. 

Marissa Wagner, freshman at Washburn, is beyond excited that her hometown is taking strides toward improvement and growth. 

“I am from Topeka. With that said, it is sometimes hard to find things to do that are friendly for all ages. Bringing something new to this city will be good for its citizens,” Wagner said. “I have no doubt that it will be very successful.”

While we may have to put up with construction for the time being, it is our hope that it will be worth it. The Evergy Plaza is the type of venue that our community was lacking in Topeka.