Business Watch: Cool to see investment being made in downtown building; Topeka Aldi store expanding

Aldi, 1530 S.W. Arvonia Place, is adding about 1,800 square feet to its store, which remains open during construction. (Thad Allton/The Capital-Journal)

What an interesting week for business news. First, reporting on Pennants, the newly announced downtown restaurant and entertainment center that will feature bowling lanes and a retro arcade, along with a bar and beer garden.


Then in today’s paper, you’ll hear about the monumental task that Topeka businessman John Federico is undertaking after he purchased the 20,000-square-foot building at 106 S.E. 8th Ave. I told him he won the top award for worst smelling story ever after photographer Thad Allton and I traipsed through a couple of floors with peeling walls, ceilings and general disaster.

Thad failed to get a shot of the pigeon that flew down the hallway with us. My business news stories are typically not the best for photos, so I’m sure he wasn’t thinking of action shots like he does when shooting sports.

It’s cool to see this kind of investment being made downtown. I’m a bowler, so I’m particularly enthused about the bowling lanes. Also, as a grammatical aside, I had to investigate after someone commented on my story whether I should have used bowling “lanes” or bowling “alleys.” I think you can actually use both. A definition of “alley” said the long, narrow wooden lane used to bowl, or a building with a number of such lanes. But I do think it might have been clearer to use four lanes instead of four alleys.

See, these are the kinds of discussions that go on among writers. Every word counts. Until you’re just filling space, which could be occurring now… On to more news.

Buyer Beware: How to avoid flood-damaged vehicles after the hurricanes

Catastrophes like Hurricane Harvey and now Hurricane Irma create a market for flooded cars.

Up to 1 million cars were submerged by the floodwaters of Harvey, according to AAA Kansas, which urged buyers to beware of purchasing any of those cars.

“In many instances, flood-damaged vehicles end up on the used car market, and often, the buyer is unaware the vehicle has a ‘salvage title,’ or the title has been ‘washed,’ ” the company said in a release.

Once the vehicles are dried out and cleaned, they might be sold in other states by unscrupulous sellers and fly-by-night operators.

“Use your five senses to detect telltale signs a vehicle has been flooded. Then use your sixth sense,” said Shawn Steward, AAA Kansas spokesman.

“Look for a waterline under the hood, undercarriage and bumpers; for mud and debris inside the cabin and trunk; for signs of rust, and for fogging inside the headlights and taillights. Use your sense of smell to detect the scent of disinfectants or cleansing agents used to cloak musty smells or mold or mildew.

Touch the carpet or floor mats for residual traces of wetness or for signs that the carpets, seats and interiors were recently shampooed.”

Flooded cars are not always totaled, and 50 percent are eventually resold, he said. Get a vehicle history report or a free VIN report for any vehicle being purchased.

AAA Kansas recommended using VINCheck at

Aldi near West Ridge Mall is expanding

The Topeka Aldi store at 1530 S.W. Arvonia Place is being expanded and remodeled as part of the company’s $1.6 billion nationwide plan to remodel more than 1,300 U.S. stores by 2020.

The expansion will focus on fresh items, including produce, dairy and bakery sections, said Mark Bersted, Olathe Division vice president for ALDI.

“Remodeled stores will also feature a modern design, open ceilings, natural lighting and environmentally-friendly building materials, such as recycled materials, energy-saving refrigeration and LED lighting,” he said.

The remodeled Topeka store, which is open during construction, will have five aisles and about 11,000 square feet of selling space, up from its previous 9,400 square feet, Bersted said.

The addition is expected to be completed in November.