TOPEKA, Kan. — The fate of a decades-old state office building in Topeka has been at the center of a long-standing debate among state lawmakers for some time. Now, a committee has decided to provide recommendations for the final plans for the building in October.
The Joint Committee on State Building Construction met Tuesday to discuss plans to reconstruct the Docking State Office Building in downtown Topeka. Chair of the committee, Representative Marty Long, R-Ulysses, said the committee has taken time to weigh the costs and benefits of two different proposals.
“The first option will be leaving the entirety of the building as it is, remodeling and bringing it up to city codes,” Rep. Long said. “The second option will be to demolish the top 11 stories and rebuild three stories.”
The 64-year-old building doesn’t have many people working in it. State Department of Administration officials noted during the meeting that, like some other state office buildings, the Docking building is “showing it’s age.”
In May, lawmakers proposed spending $120 million to renovate the building. However, the price was reduced due to use of coronavirus relief funds. Now, the price has been set below $100 million. Long said the committee is still waiting to solidify federal assistance to kick off the project.
Earlier this year, some lawmakers like Representative John Alcala, D-Topeka, said they’re hoping updates to the building will help improve downtown and keep jobs in the community.
“I’ve watched it go from its peak and I’ve watched it to where it’s kind of deteriorating over a period of time, but the investments are starting to happen.,” said Alcala. “Some of the old buildings you see down there, people have bought those and so it takes time to transition into spending money and getting buildings up to par.”