Traffic flow, competition, zoning impacts and aesthetics are issues Downtown Lawrence leaders would like to see placed on the public agenda for discussion as a developer prepares to build a factory outlet center in North Lawrence.
Earl Reineman, president of Downtown Lawrence, the organization that represents businesses in the city's commercial center, said the consensus among his group still is favorable toward the Tanger Factory Outlet Center.
However, he said members of Downtown Lawrence's board of directors, who met this morning, believe the proposal for the city's second factory outlet center raises issues the community should address.
ON FRIDAY, a representative of Stanley K. Tanger & Co., a North Carolina-based developer, announced plans to build a 150,000-square-foot center across the street from the East Lawrence interchange of the Kansas Turnpike. The center, which in its first phase would accommodate about 25 stores, would open next summer.
At the top of the Downtown Lawrence directors' list, Reinemen said, is traffic.
"We hope they bring lots of traffic into town and we know that a certain amount of traffic will come in from Johnson County on K-10," he said.
Downtown Lawrence directors are concerned about an increase in through-town traffic.
"Obviously, the solution to that is the Eastern Parkway," he said, referring to the proposed road that would link downtown with Kansas Highway 10.
REINEMAN SAID Downtown Lawrence directors were concerned about the impact of the Tanger center on Lawrence Riverfront Plaza Factory Outlet Shops, the city's 2-year-old outlet center. He said some directors fear Riverfront Plaza tenants may move to Tanger's center.
Specifically, Reineman said the directors don't want taxpayers to have to pick up the tab for bonds the city issued to finance a parking garage adjacent to Riverfront Plaza, if parking revenue disappeared.
The group also expressed concern about a request Tanger filed to rezone for commercial use the 12 acres for the center's first phase.
The directors' concern, Reineman said, is that rezoning the land not erode downtown's position as the city's designated central business district.
Finally, Reineman said, the directors want Tanger's project to "conform to the high aesthetic quality of downtown." They're encouraged, he said, by indications that Tanger's project might play off the architectural style of the renovated Union Pacific train depot.
In a related matter, a story in Monday's Journal-World indicated that a North Lawrence Improvement Assn. survey of neighborhood residents specifically asked about the Tanger center. However, NLIA President Bob Moody said the survey asked a general question about the kinds of development residents would like to see. In their answers, many residents made positive remarks about the planned factory outlet center.