TOPEKA — A state legislative committee issued a bipartisan recommendation for approval of a $535,000 bid on a nearly 100-year-old Topeka building on the National Register of Historic Places that previously housed the state insurance department.
The three-story brick structure with cut stone trim near the Capitol, known as the Woman’s Club of Topeka, features stained-glass windows and chandeliers.
An appraisal for the state prepared last year pegged value of the building at $1.1 million. It was offered at auction after the insurance agency relocated to west Topeka in November, but the state has continued to pay about $5,000 monthly in utility and maintenance expenses.
A Topeka investment group plans to renovate the building into an event venue.
On Monday, the joint state building construction committee agreed to recommend Gov. Laura Kelly and top legislative leaders on the State Finance Council accept the deal.
Sen. Carolyn McGinn, a Republican from Sedgwick and chairwoman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said portions of the building’s utility infrastructure needed to be replaced at an estimated cost of $500,000.
“That gets you over $1 million and that doesn’t include other problems with the building,” she said.
Ulysses Rep. Marty Long said the appraisal was conducted in late 2019 prior to COVID-19 driving down commercial property values.
Renovation of the property, returning it to the tax roll and placing money in the state treasury is “a great deal,” said Rep. John Alcala, a Topeka Democrat.
Under existing Kansas law, 80% of proceeds from the sale of surplus property must be forwarded to the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System and 20% to the state treasury.