A proposed deal would make parking free on the top level of the 510-space garage next to the Lawrence Riverfront Plaza.
Free parking could be on its way to the city's downtown parking garage, and it can't come soon enough for the owners of the adjacent Lawrence Riverfront Plaza.
Riverfront L.L.C., which owns the mall, has reached agreement with city officials to make parking free on the top level of the 510-space garage at Sixth and New Hampshire streets.
"The paid parking has been a huge barrier for retailers," said Dan Simons of Riverfront L.L.C. and director of new ventures for the World Co., which also owns the Journal-World. "This, we hope, will let the tenants enjoy a much better livelihood."
Under the proposed agreement -- negotiated in recent weeks between city staffers and Riverfront representatives -- top-level parking would be free for two-hour use, like other short-term lots downtown. Spaces on the lower level would cost $1 per use, similar to other city lots along the fringes of downtown.
"To me, it's almost an exact duplicate of what we've got in the rest of the downtown," said City Manager Mike Wildgen. "I'm comfortable recommending this at this point."
Lawrence city commissioners will consider approving the agreement Wednesday, during their 4 p.m. meeting at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts.
Under terms of the agreement, Riverfront would agree to:
- Buy 235 long-term parking passes from the city, at $96 each. The passes -- total cost: $22,560 -- would equal the number of spaces on the garage's lower level. The passes could be distributed to mall tenants or employees.
- Charge mall tenants a 25 cent-per-square-foot parking fee, with money going to the city. Riverfront has about 70,000 square feet available for retail and office use. Whether existing tenants would be charged remains unclear.
- Lease 4,800 square feet of office space in the mall for city use at the following rates: $20,700 in year one; $28,560 in year two; $29,520 in year three; $30,720 in year four and $31,920 in year five. Wildgen said a "one-stop shop" for building inspections, fire inspections and other city services was among the top options for the space.
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ON THE LIST
J.P. Weigand & Sons Inc. of Wichita is the new listing agent for the Lawrence Riverfront Plaza, a retail-office mall at Sixth and New Hampshire streets.
Leisa Ezell Lowry, a real estate broker for Weigand, said she was seeking national and regional retail tenants to locate in the mall.
"We're focusing on some additional outlet retailers as well as restaurants," she said.
Lowry also is listing agent for the retail portions of two other downtown projects: the Winter block, at the northeast corner of Eighth and New Hampshire streets; and the redevelopment of a former Mercantile bank branch in the 600 block of Massachusetts Street.