In the 1950s and ’60s, five hotels operated on Kansas Avenue in downtown Topeka, but they closed by the 1970s, and some were torn down.
On Monday, Cody Foster announced plans to build the Cyrus Hotel and Holliday Public House on the site of four buildings in the 900 block of South Kansas Avenue, at a project cost of $6 million to $8 million.
The 79-room boutique hotel is named after Cyrus Holliday, co-founder of Topeka and founder of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway.
Douglass Wallace, a Topeka historian, said the Cyrus Hotel would be the first hotel on Kansas Avenue in more than a quarter century. During its heyday, the avenue’s hotels included the Chesterfield at Second and Kansas streets.
The Cyrus Hotel is the latest announcement in a series of improvements for downtown Topeka. The city spent $5 million to improve streets and sewers, and private investors raised $3.3 million for landscaping and ornaments, said Vince Frye, president and CEO of Downtown Topeka Inc.
The Cyrus Hotel will take 18 to 24 months to build and involve removing the rear half of two buildings in the 900 block of South Kansas to add a tower, while preserving their facades.
The hotel will include a cafe, restaurant and bar with multiple indoor and outdoor spaces, terraces, rooftop gardens and event space for 300 people. The site is about a block east of the Kansas Capitol building.
Foster said he moved to Topeka 20 years ago to attend Washburn University. He is co-founder of Advisors Excel, an insurance marketing firm with more than 300 employees in Topeka.
“I believe in this city, but more than anything, I believe in its people,” Foster said.
Foster’s AIM Strategies is the owner of the hotel. Foster is partnering with Plainville, Kan., businessman Chuck Comeau, who owns multiple buildings in downtown Hays. Foster and Comeau worked with Lake Flato, of San Antonio, Texas, to develop plans for the hotel. Architect 1 and McPherson Contractors will be in charge of converting the site. David Bowd, CEO of Salt Hotels, is under contract to help with the design and the first months after opening.
Frye said local investors had bought more than 20 buildings in downtown Topeka in recent years. More projects to improve downtown are in the works.
Many longtime Topekans were thrilled to hear the news about the hotel project.
“Wow,” said Topeka Mayor Larry Wolgast. “ “These are the days we live for. How does it get any better than this?”