Concert venue

Manhattan’s brand new concert hall – just the beginning?

This historic building on Yuma Street has been transformed into a concert hall, serving as a landmark for local and touring bands. (Lily Murray | College Media Group)

It’s a cool Saturday in the fall. The football game has just ended and the Kansas State Wildcats are excited to take on the evening. Options include a night out in Aggieville, downtown bars, and maybe a house party. K-State student Kaitlyn Woicke, a marketing senior, said variety seems to be lacking.

“The students do the same things every weekend. It gets old from time to time,” Woicke said.

Derek Richards, realtor and owner of the AG Press building, and Eric Kleiner, developer and Richard’s business partner for The Press, said they recognize the need for variety and options for Manhattan residents. Richards said he bought AG Press, located on Yuma Street, in April this year, and had big dreams for it.

“It’s a project I’ve been looking to buy for five years, actually,” Richards said. “I originally wanted to buy it with the goal of bringing culture to Manhattan. Many warehouses in major cities are being renovated for cultural, dining and activity purposes. Just a way to maximize this beautiful, already old space and to use it for different purposes.

Part of this sprawling four-acre property is dedicated to the already operational outdoor concert venue, The Press. Kleiner said the goal is to create a rock and roll venue, while accommodating a variety of genres. With a capacity of over 500 people and a successful live show, Richards and Kleiner remain positive about their venue’s growth.

“One thing we want to promote is that we have five acts in October,” Richards said. “We run the gamut from rock and roll, easy listening, to a little heavier, to EDM. At the last event, we had a Kite’s food truck here, and alcohol. I think the unique thing here is that we’re in a central part of Manhattan and we just have plenty of room to work.

Richards had the opportunity to speak directly with the students and open a dialogue about what they would like to see brought to Manhattan.

“I taught in an on-campus entrepreneurship class in the company building and I asked a room of 200 students, ‘what do you guys want?’ and they basically described that they wanted Yard Bar, but bigger,” Richards said. “They want a place to go where they have space and where they feel comfortable in a different environment. hopefully create a more welcoming place, or a place to just have variety.It’s good to have variety in the city.

Sam Bartlett, a junior in entrepreneurship and innovation, said he thinks another location in Manhattan is essential.

“I love live music and I like going to concerts, so it would be cool if there was a place here in town,” Bartlett said. “I think it would bridge the gap between Aggieville and downtown.”

Annie Wehling, senior in human development and family science, said she thinks a place like The Press could also benefit the city.

“My friends and I talked about it,” Wehling said. “We’ve been struggling after games and stuff recently, just to find something to do that isn’t 100 per cent packed. So a bigger room like this would be really fun to visit.

The long-range plan for the entire property encompasses more than just the press, Richards said.

“The inside of the building won’t be finished for at least 2 or 3 years,” Richards said. “Some of the main ideas are to have a venue that can accommodate weddings, rock shows and different types of events. You know, as it grows, can we put retail? Can we put a brewery? Can we put a restaurant Can we put a stage outside and artificial grass all over the back yard For garden games there is so much square footage There are many things that could happen . »

A new concert hall is being built on Fort Riley Boulevard. Interior shot of the building from September 7, 2022. (Elizabeth Sandstrom | Collegian Media Group)

Richards said he welcomes ideas, especially from K-State residents and students. He intends to create a space for community use and said he believes anyone with a dream can start building it at AG Press.

“AG Press is available for ideas to create here,” Richards said. “I want students who want to start something, they could start here.”

Bartlett, with his entrepreneurial skills and connection to Richards, said he hopes to see a particular idea become a reality.

“I met Derek at our church and slowly got to know him,” Bartlett said. “Someone suggested he start a rock climbing club. I’m super interested in rock climbing. I told him I’d be interested in talking about it and what it would take.

Bartlett said he was passionate about the project and wanted to combine his climbing knowledge with Richards’ business experience.

“It’s great in the air right now,” Bartlett said. “It could easily turn into something concrete if we think it makes financial sense from a market perspective.”

Overall, Richards and Kleiner said they seek to bring a refreshing variety of new sounds and experiences to the Yuma neighborhood and the city of Manhattan.

“The economy here is generally quite poor, so I think it’s important to be aware and think about how this location can benefit this area, bringing in culture and just bringing in a good vibe” , said Richards. “There is a lot of beauty here. I think a lot of people, when they think of Manhattan, think of Aggieville and downtown, so we’re hoping to create a third borough to do something else.

More information about upcoming events at The Press and future plans for the building can be found at their website.