You might call it Lawrence's northwest passage.
Though development continues pushing Lawrence's boundaries ever farther in all directions, northwest Lawrence appears to be hotter than the rest.
``That's where you're seeing most of the commercial growth right now,'' said Gary Toebben, president of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.
There are no readily available statistics to back it up, but a quick recounting of development in the area seems to bear out the observation: New retail hubs, banks and the city's new public high school all are contributing to the boom.
But the spurting residential development crawling along new streets and subdivisions is its root. Commercial development simply follows the people.
``The housing construction in the area was the first thing,'' Toebben said. ``Then there was that whole area between Monterey Way and Wakarusa, which is now becoming nearly filled. The fact that those families lived there meant there was a need for commercial development in that area. They had a pretty long drive to get services they need.''
For decades, the Westridge shopping center at Sixth and Kasold was the city's northwest commercial outpost. West of the intersection was simply U.S. Highway 40, the ``back way'' to Topeka.
``Once Free State High School opened, that also generated additional attention for that part of the community,'' Toebben said. ``It looked like it all coincided with Free State, but everything was already in motion.''