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Topeka businessman planning $6 million office park for East Topeka, near Lake Shawnee

A Topeka businessman is proposing a $6 million office park with storage facilities be built in East Topeka, but the city’s planning staff said Friday that it does not support the project.

Frank Meade, who owns multiple storage businesses in Topeka, Auburn and Lawrence, wants to build 16,000-square-feet of office space and about 500 modern storage units at the northeast corner of S.E. 29th Street and Wittenberg Road, at the foot of the dam by Lake Shawnee.

“The front of it, the part facing 29th Street, is going to be a series of office buildings, which we would like to be very nice,” Meade said. “It will be somewhat dependent on who rents them and what they want.”

But the city of Topeka’s planning staff said in a report posted online Friday as part of an Aug. 21 planning commission agenda that they recommended the project not be approved.

Meade said he was aware of the city’s recommendation, and he has asked the commission to delay consideration of the project for one month to give him and designers time to address some of the concerns raised.

In its report, city staff said the proposed development “is not compatible with the general character of the neighborhood and threatens to degrade the value of Lake Shawnee as a recreation destination enjoyed by many city and county residents.”

The area currently is zoned residential, which would have to be changed to light industrial.

Meade is aware of concerns that often center around adding storage units to an area.

As the owner of Aeolian Mini-Warehouse & Storage, Meade said he’s aware some people object to the look of storage facilities. To allay concerns, he worked with Landplan Engineering in Lawrence to create a facade on the storage buildings that would be professional and attractive. The storage units would be located to the north of the four office buildings and would be designed so they don’t obviously look like storage…

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