Breaking news: Manhattan to house Kansas Department of Agriculture offices

By Bill Felber

The Kansas Department of Agriculture will move most of its offices to Manhattan next year.

Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman announced the decision Thursday, capping a selection process that began last year. The move will involve most of the department’s programs, although the main office will remain in Topeka.

Rodman said Manhattan was selected because it offered the greatest opportunity for synergies with educational and bio-science entities. Central to that decision were the presence of the Colleges of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, the existence of a level three bio-safety research facility, Pat Roberts Hall, and the pending construction of the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF).

The site chosen is in the K-State Research Park on North Manhattan Avenue, directly adjacent to the site of the NBAF, and close to the veterinary college.

Beyond the main Topeka office, he department will maintain field offices in Stafford, Stockton, Parsons and Garden City, but will relocate other functions to Manhattan.

It will operate out of building to be constructed by and leased from the KSU Foundation, with construction expected to begin soon. Rodman signed the formal lease agreement at a noon meeting of the Joint Legislative Committee on State Building Construction.

Department officials expect the move to take effect on July 1, 2014. The building is expected to house around 200 employees.

“The decision to move KDA to Manhattan was made after months of close consultation to determine the best location to allow KDA to fulfill our statutory obligations and provide the best service to all our customers today and in the future,” Rodman said. He predicted the new facility would enable the department to work closely with nationally and globally recognized experts on scientific and economic research.

The secretary predicted the move would result in increased research and technical efficiencies.

The department has been housed for years in The Mills Building on 9th Street in Topeka. That lease expires at the end of June, and will be renewed for one year while the new building is constructed.

The secretary said the Manhattan site was chosen at the conclusion of a process that considered more than 40 sites around the state, about half of them in Topeka. He said all the proposed Topeka sites were visited along with eight in other locations.

The new facility will be three stories tall and provide 50,000 square feet of space. The lease agreement calls for annual rent payments of $686,000, escalating in five-year increments for the 20-year life of the lease.

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