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Archive for Tuesday, September 21, 1999

INDIA SCHOOL PLANS UP FOR REVIEW

September 21, 1999

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The old school would be replaced by commercial development under a plan to be reviewed Wednesday night.

The prospective buyers of India School want to turn the property into a neighborhood shopping center, maybe even a grocery store.

But they need the city's permission to do it.

"It would entail removal of the school and (construction of) a new neighborhood-related shopping center," said Duane Schwada of Northland Ventures LC, a group of investors that wants to buy the property from the Lawrence school district.

But closing the $864,640 deal remains contingent on Northland securing commercial zoning for the 5.5 acres at 1739 E. 23rd -- a move city planners say would conflict with Horizon 2020, the city's comprehensive plan. The city already has received a protest petition signed by 73 people, many of them residents of the adjacent Anderson Acres subdivision.

Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners are scheduled to consider the zoning application during a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets. Lawrence city commissioners would make a final decision.

While Schwada's group pushes the need for commercial services within walking distance of neighborhoods in eastern Lawrence, the district needs money from the sale to defray costs of the planned purchase of the former All-Star Dairy, 110 McDonald Drive. The district has a deal to buy that building for $4.1 million, then spend another $150,000 to turn it into administrative offices and warehouse space for the district.

The school board is scheduled to decide next week whether to go through with the purchase of 110 McDonald Dr., and is still trying to sell the district's service center on Clinton Parkway for about $1 million.

The fate of India School rests with zoning officials and Northland members.

"We can't back out of it, but he can -- the developer can," said Jim Freeman, executive director of business services for the district.

Schwada declined to identify other members of his investment group or discuss details of Northland's plans for the corner of 23rd and Harper streets, other than saying the project would involve demolition of the school and construction of new commercial space. A grocery store would be among the possibilities, he said.

-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is mfagan@ljworld.com.

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