PITTSBURG — Evergy, the parent company of Westar Energy, has donated $100,000 toward the advancement of Block22.
According to Evergy’s Vice President for Customer and Community Operations Jeff Martin Evergy is excited to see a project which shows partnership between Pittsburg State University and community.
“Block22 is an exciting project,” Martin said in a release. “Pittsburg State is taking an innovative approach to student life. It’s a great way to utilize existing buildings to bring students downtown. Evergy and Westar are excited to be part of Block22 and the Pittsburg community.”
The total cost of the Block22 project is approximately $19 million and is paid for through a mix of private contributions and public funds. According to a release, more than $10 million of the total cost was paid for through historic and new market tax credits secured by The Vecino Group, the Springfield-based development company leading the project.
The City of Pittsburg has invested nearly $2 million, and the Pittsburg State University Foundation has secured private donations of more than $1 million, Shawn Naccarato, PSU chief strategy officer said.
“The funds [from Evergy] will help with the overall advancement of the Block22 project, particularly with ongoing construction and programming expenses,” he said.  
In recognition of the company’s financial support, the public courtyard between the National Bank and Opera House Hotel buildings will bear the Evergy name, a release said.
“We are incredibly grateful for Evergy’s generous support of Block22,” Naccarato said. “Block22 could not have gone from idea to reality without support from private donors and industry leaders such as Evergy.”  

Block22 update
Block22 progress is showing as tenants inside The Foundry are working closely together.
“The collaboration between the various businesses has been beneficial for all of us. It’s also just been a lot of fun,” Naccarato said. “There is a really cool, energetic vibe inside The Foundry, and it’s awesome to be downtown amidst all the buzz and activity.”
Root Coffeehouse & Creperie has been a “tremendous addition to the project,” Naccarato said.
“The space itself is incredibly beautiful, and the atmosphere is exactly what we were hoping to have here,” he said. “Every time I walk over to Root, which is quite often throughout the day, I run into friends, colleagues, community leaders, students … it’s the ultimate collision space.”

Three new restaurants are coming soon on the west side of Broadway, and the goal is to have them open by April, Naccarato said.
According to Naccarato, official Block22 memberships will be sold soon. The memberships offer a variety of benefits, such as access to the makerspace, admission to social events, desk space and more. More information about how to become a member will be announced next week, he said.  

A podcast from Block22 is also in the works, which will focus a variety of topics, such as economic development, downtown revitalization, and various feature stories from throughout the community. They are hoping to launch the podcast in early to mid-February, Naccarato said.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.