Plans for apartments along Sixth Street go to the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission next week.
An open field near Sixth Street and Schwarz Road is targeted to become a new office-and-apartment complex.
Wednesday night, Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners will consider plans for building 108 apartments on a 7.2-acre site near the northeast corner of the intersection.
The area also could include professional offices and 24 more apartments on 2.4 acres along Sixth Street, but those plans are not yet ready for consideration.
The current apartment plans call for 250 parking spaces, a clubhouse, two swimming pools and two hot tubs next door to the existing Graystone Apartments & Townhouses, 2512 W. Sixth.
Access to the 13-building development, prepared by Gene Fritzel Construction and Paul Werner Architects, would be controlled by a gatehouse. Apartment buildings would include 32 one-bedroom units, 52 two-bedroom units and 24 three-bedroom units.
The vacant land, however, currently is limited to development of single-family homes. To follow through with plans for apartments, property owner Beryl L. Hobbs must secure rezonings for the entire 9.6 acres to allow for offices and apartments.
Both rezoning applications are up for approval Wednesday.
"There's justification to consider this as a legitimate use," said Phil Bradley, chair of the planning commission, who noted the nearby multifamily uses at Graystone.
But neighbors to the west have objected to previous plans, which called for more apartments and higher densities, Bradley said.
Planning Commissioner Jean Milstead knows the concern. Fifteen years ago, she rented a duplex whose backyard opened onto the farmland, typically used for wheat.
"People take it for granted," she said. "They want it to stay that way forever."
Traffic also is a concern. Officials already have been grappling with development proposals further west on Sixth -- where apartments, offices and a new high school already have been approved.
And a 1/4-mile to the east, city officials plan to build a new community recreation center in Centennial Park.
A bottleneck in the making?
"Any development creates more traffic," Bradley said. "We try not to create problems."
Planning commissioners expect to discuss the apartment plans during their monthly meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts. Any business left unfinished during Wednesday's meeting would be rescheduled for a special meeting Oct. 4.
The planning commission's decision, in the form of a recommendation, would be forwarded to the Lawrence City Commission for final approval or rejection.