A series of projects on the drawing board with the City of Topeka will impact the physical appearance of that city’s downtown area. A proposal to realign I-70 has been adopted, and the Capital District Project will redesign public spaces along Kansas Avenue. North of the Kansas River, the NOTO Arts District is picking up steam as the community reinvents this 19th century commercial node for the 21st century. The redevelopment efforts these projects and others will spur have the potential to either support or detract from the historic character of Topeka’s oldest major commercial corridor.
To help decision-makers balance new opportunities with historic preservation, the City of Topeka hired Rosin Preservation, LLC to complete a survey of historic resources in the Kansas Avenue commercial district. The goal of the project was two-fold: 1) to identify buildings that may be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (National Register) or the Register of Historic Kansas Places (Kansas Register) and 2) conversely, to identify areas that are not register eligible and therefore prime for redevelopment.
Using boundaries developed by the Topeka Landmarks Commission, Rosin Preservation inventoried 221 buildings in an area along Kansas Avenue, both north and south of the Kansas River. The boundary included the original 19th century commercial centers of Topeka and North Topeka (originally the town of Eugene). Both areas are densely built with commercial, industrial, and government buildings erected over a 150-year period between 1855 and 2009. They illustrate an evolution of function and design that amalgamated as the modern City of Topeka.