A downtown Topeka building constructed as a factory in the 1940s and renovated in the mid-2010s will be the new home of the Great Plains Conference.
The conference entered into a purchase contract for the building at 100 S. Kansas Ave., on May 5. Scott Brewer, conference treasurer and director of administrative services, says staff should be able to move into the new facility by May 2023.
The cost of the purchase is $2.6 million, all from the conference’s reserve funds.
The first floor will include a variety of sizes of meeting spaces, as well as workspaces for conference staff and district superintendents who are not frequently in the office. The second floor will be the offices for the bishop, congregational excellence, clergy excellence, administrative services, communications and administrative assistants for several districts.
The new office would be located on one of the busier streets in Topeka, which is expected to get a higher profile when work begins on Interstate 70 in 2024, including a new Kansas Avenue exit.
“It’s in an area that the city has hopes of continuing to see grow and change,” Brewer said. “Being part of that has some real potential for us to do ministry beyond the normal conference work.”
Conference offices have been rented from Bartlett & West at 1207 SW Executive Drive since the Topeka, Wichita and Lincoln offices were merged into one in 2018.
At just under 30,000 square feet, the building will provide conference staff with spacious offices.
"The staff who have seen it feel like it’ll be a good space to work in, it’ll accommodate all that we’ve got, and give us room to spread our wings out,” Brewer said.
The building was constructed during World War II, Brewer said, and was a factory making powdered eggs. Later, it served as a warehouse for a soft drink distributor. The renovations took place in 2016-2017, where it most recently housed an advertising agency.
The price also includes fixtures, furniture and appliances, he added.
“We’ll be getting quite a lot out of that $2.6 (million) besides the building,” Brewer said.
Rev. Stephanie Ahlschwede, chair of the board of trustees, said she was impressed with the facility.
“We think it’s a very inviting space, both for visitors and the current staff. We want the staff to have a workplace where they feel comfortable and where they feel cared for,” she said, adding the “layout is very visitor-friendly.”
The conference is expected to close on the purchase in July, Brewer said. Renovations will be made after consulting with architects, he said.
The property is large enough to accommodate a parking lot with 28 spaces and room for a semi, he said, and will be paved and fenced.
The decision comes after looking at more than a dozen buildings for the new home of the conference, Brewer said.
Ahlschwede said she was glad the discernment about the building had been completed.
“It just feels so good to complete this process and know that we can move forward with getting the staff moved in, and to continue our work,” she said.
Ahlschwede said she likes the concept of the building.
“It’s a forward-focused building,” Ahlschwede said. “It’s a very welcoming place, just like we know ourselves to be.”
Contact David Burke, content specialist, at email@example.com.