By Kathy Webber
In 1854 the corner of 1st and Kansas Avenue was the site of the first log cabin to be built in Topeka. It was in this log cabin that the charter for Topeka was written. Now, 165 years later, this corner is the home of the Kansas Avenue Lofts, a newly constructed apartment building having a total of 33 two bedroom apartments.
In the past, 101 N. Kansas Avenue was used as a commercial building. The last major occupant of the building was Seymour Foods Inc. where it was used as an egg processing warehouse. In 2015, Michael and Maria Wilson purchased the building with a vision to transform it into apartments.
“My husband grew up in Topeka and his grandmother used to work for Seymour Foods. He was in the building a couple of times as a child so he has a connection with the building,” Maria Wilson said.
The Wilsons thought the building was centrally located between downtown Topeka and the NOTO Arts District and thought it would be the perfect location for apartments.
“The apartments create that bridge or that middle spot in-between the two so it becomes the infill, so growth can continue happening between those two areas,” Wilson said, “It was a fun project for us, and would be something that is positive for Downtown and would create something that doesn’t exists anywhere else in Topeka.”
The Wilson’s had to gut the entire building tearing everything down that wasn’t concrete to create the apartments. The whole process took about a year to construct and the outcome was three levels of living spaces with 11 two bedroom apartments on each floor. Each unit has between 950 to 1,120 square feet and features a full size kitchen. The Wilson’s were able to design each apartment to have a modern industrial feel while maintaining some of the building’s history.
“We tried to preserve the history of the building by leaving older parts as they were, while making it both modern and comfortable,” Wilson said.
For an additional fee, tenants can have an indoor parking space, something no one else has in downtown Topeka.
“We are pleased that we will be able to do something that will be a good contribution to downtown. We keep hearing that all the lofts are full, so here’s more of them that are well done, nice, new and hip,” Wilson said. “It has been fun. We have a good variety of people that have moved in already”