Archive for Monday, October 28, 1996

DOWNTOWN LAWRENCE NOT UNIFIED ON BORDERS

October 28, 1996

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Downtown's largest support group will not offer unified comment concerning a proposal to bring a Borders bookstore downtown.

A position paper proposed by Downtown Lawrence Inc.'s board of directors, and sent to the group's 150 members for comment, will not be forwarded to the Lawrence City Commission because of a lack of support, said David Longhurst, DLI president.

"It's a complicated issue," Longhurst said. "I don't want to send a letter if it enjoys a majority of responses unless it's a pretty convincing consensus.

"We're looking for consensus here."

The position paper, mailed in letter form, was followed up with a phone survey of the entire DLI membership of retail, professional and service industry owners, plus assorted Lawrence residents who support downtown.

The letter was intended to advise Lawrence city commissioners about their impending decision Nov. 12: whether to approve a demolition permit for the block bounded by Seventh, Eighth, New Hampshire and Rhode Island streets, as requested by Winter Inc.

The project would include the razing of a former livery stable at 700 N.H., which would be replaced with a new building for a Borders bookstore.

Included in the letter: "We would certainly support the proposed development ... if the developers could adapt and reuse the building at Seventh and New Hampshire ... as a part of that development."

Longhurst said the DLI board circulated the letter because "it seemed like something relatively easy to support." In the end, however, the survey only revealed the deep divisions within the DLI membership about the controversial project.

Commissioner Bob Moody had requested that DLI survey its membership about the Winter proposal. Longhurst said a consensus opinion was unattainable.

"We'll have to rely on individual members to make their views known," said Longhurst, a former mayor. "It'll be a tough vote."

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