Developers have begun laying the groundwork to bring commercial and residential development to the intersection of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway.
Officials with Diamond Head Limited Partnership, owners of the property, recently filed requests with the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Office to rezone 67 acres of land at the southeast corner of the roads, which also are known as U.S. Highway 40 and Kansas Highway 10.
The requests, which are scheduled to go before planning commissioners at their Oct. 23 meeting, include:
32.71 acres rezoned from agricultural to planned commercial development
12.83 acres from agricultural to RM-2, which would allow for apartments
14.467 acres from agricultural to RM-1, which would allow for a mix of apartments and single-family homes
And 7.013 acres from agricultural to RO-2, which would allow for offices.
Brian Kubota, a planner and representative for Diamond Head, said the group was seeking the rezoning but did not have immediate plans to develop the commercial property.
He estimated it could be three years before improvements to widen Sixth Street to four lanes from Wakarusa Drive to the trafficway would be completed. The property owners don't plan to push for commercial development at the corner until the road is improved, he said.
"We're in no hurry on the commercial," Kubota said. "We understand you have to have the streets to carry the traffic. We're willing to wait on that, unless some big-box retailer wants to come in and pay to do the improvements to make it work."
Kubota said the developers didn't have any specific plans for how much retail space they would like to put on the nearly 33 acres targeted for retail zoning. He doesn't expect to develop any specific plans for the retail portion of the project for at least a year.
"We have been requested to have larger stores out there and more services so we don't have so much cross-town traffic, and we'll consider that, but we don't know today," Kubota said.
Kubota said he hoped to begin work sooner on the residential portions of the project. Most of those would be served by George Williams Way rather than Sixth Street. The city plans to extend that road, which currently stops near Langston Hughes School, to connect with Sixth Street.
Kubota said he would like to have some homes and apartments completed by the time the extended George Williams Way is scheduled to open, which could be as soon as one year.
Preliminary plans call for 92 single-family homes to be built on the sites, plus an undetermined number of townhouses, condominiums, apartments and office suites. Kubota said developers hoped to meet a need for affordable housing.
For example, Kubota said many of the apartment units would be sold to residents rather than leased, which is the more typical arrangement available at apartment complexes.