Officials discuss proposed high-dollar improvements at Kansas Expocentre

The $45 million worth of taxpayer dollars earmarked to make improvements at the Kansas Expocentre will translate into roughly $30 million worth of actual construction, says a document detailing the proposed master plan for the project.

 

Design professionals who teamed up to craft the colorful, 118-page plan made a presentation about it this past week to Shawnee County Commissioners Bob Archer, Kevin Cook and Shelly Buhler.

“The cost of bonding combined with other project ‘soft costs’ such as design and engineering fees, contractor overhead and profit, furniture, fixtures and equipment, construction contingencies, etc., are estimated around $15 million, resulting in a construction budget of around $30 million,” said the plan’s sixth page. “The recommended list of projects targets a construction budget of $30 million and allocates a series of prioritized alternates that may fluctuate in and out of the budget as the design is refined in the design phase of the project.”

Representatives from HTK Architects PA, Conventions Sports &Leisure and the arena design firm Populous spoke about the plan at this past Monday’s commission meeting. Commissioners then heard public comments about it.

They encouraged residents to share thoughts with them about the plan, which can be found beginning on page 76 of the agenda packet for that meeting.

The commission plans to resume its discussion of the topic during its 9 a.m. meeting Thursday in its chambers in Room B-11 of the County Courthouse, 200 S.E. 7th.

The plan recommends moves that include:

— Doing away with the outdoor stairways to Landon Arena, while building a large structure at its current entrance site where the public could enter the arena at ground level, then use elevators or stairs to reach the concourse.

— Replacing the current seats in Landon Arena with wider, padded seats of a different color. The plan calls for the arena to have 6,741 fixed seats. It currently has 7,450, according to the Expocentre website.

— Creating additional restroom facilities in Landon Arena.

— Building a new covered arena just south of Domer Arena.

— Building a new stall barn just south of Landon Arena.

— Renovating Landon Arena, Domer Arena, Expo Hall, the current Stall Barn and the Warm Up Arena.

— Carrying out various projects to meet deferred maintenance needs.

— Removing the kiosks in the parking lot.

Local resident Marty Bloomquist said this past week that she and other members of the Shawnee County equine and livestock community planned to meet Monday afternoon to discuss the plan.

Bloomquist suggested county officials arrange a meeting to educate people and receive input about the plan, as they did when they held an evening gathering in June while discussing a proposed land use plan for the county’s unincorporated areas.

The $45 million Expocentre improvement project is to be financed using revenue resulting from the approval by Shawnee County voters in November 2014 of a ballot question extending for 14 years, until Dec. 31, 2031, a countywide, half-cent sales tax used to raise revenue for economic development and infrastructure improvements.

Topeka’s governing body and the county commission last year separately approved an interlocal agreement specifying how the revenue will be spent, including devoting $45 million toward improvements at the Expocentre.

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Contact reporter Tim Hrenchir at (785) 295-1184 or @timhrenchir on Twitter.

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