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Turns out the promise of Manhattan’s riverfront was hiding in plain sight all along. Linked to downtown by Blue Earth Plaza, The RiverTop is now a vibrant destination for residents and visitors year round for everything from holiday shopping and lunch hour strolls. Building on years of growth downtown and the success of the Blue Earth Plaza development,
The RiverTop incorporates innovative design that’s responsive to flooding and transforms an overlooked area of town into a regional catalyst project.
Approaching from 3rd and Fort Riley, it’s impossible to ignore the energy of the courtyard. Most days, artists gather, displaying work and performing. A jazz group plays on Thursday nights and a local improv crew likes to involve tourists and convention attendees in their productions. An enormous lighted tree is placed here during the holiday season and the friendly rivalry with Blue Earth Plaza’s trees leads to more grandiose displays every year.
Like the famed Spanish Steps of Rome, Manhattan’s Spanish Steps are a selfie hot spot. You’ll often find students reading there on warm days and couples canoodling on chilly evenings. The spot seems so natural, it’s easy to forget the train tracks that run beneath—except when the engine rumbles through, of course.
For residents in the riverfront apartments and condominiums, the energy of the space was the selling point. Many retirees have relocated here from larger metros and they’re regulars at the sunrise yoga session that overlooks the river. With regular ATA bus pickups, autonomous ride shares, and close proximity to bike boulevards, many have forgone car ownership. For those that still own cars, there’s a convenient parking garage within the development and across Fort Riley Boulevard. There’s even talk of a sky bridge between the second floor of the apartments and a floor in the garage because of the crowds that cross Fort Riley at the main intersections coming and going from this vibrant development.
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Whether you’ve climbed the Spanish Stairs or arrived via bike or kayak, when you arrive on The RiverTop, there’s nothing to say but “wow.”
Market days are the busiest, of course, and you’ll find stalls selling fresh-baked bread, artisanal cheese, seasonal produce and meat. Market days are on Saturdays and Wednesdays, but there’s talk of a Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday schedule, due to demand.
Native planters around the area describe the flora and fauna of Kansas riparian zones. School children often stop here for lunch between educational sessions at the Flint Hills Discovery Center and the Konza Prairie Biological Station to better understand the complex ecology of this prairie river region. The birders are out in force during migration season, binoculars pressed to their faces scanning the treeline, the water and the sky. What was once seen as a throwaway environment, a dirty river, has become a cherished centerpiece for the community.
I like the idea! Just remember to keep the ultimate goal at the front of all planning. I have visited river fronts in San Antonio, Chicago, Omaha, St. Louis, and Kansas City. Also numerous sites along the Mississippi River. Wonderful experiences, especially for history buffs. Keep in mind that the setting and scale needs to reflect the history and heritage of Manhattan.