Archive for Saturday, July 26, 2003

Plan seeks to raze nursing home, build condos

July 26, 2003


A Lawrence developer has filed a plan with the city to tear down a vacant nursing home to make way for a new condominium project along West 27th Street.

Greg Cromer, president and broker of American Real Estate & Investments, is leading a group of investors that wants to tear down the former Southwinds Rehabilitation & Care Center at 1800 W. 27th St.

The group wants to rezone the 3.8 acres to allow for construction of 26 condominiums. The site now is zoned for single-family housing.

The request is scheduled to be heard by Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners at their Aug. 27 meeting. The project also would have to receive approval from the Lawrence City Commission.

Cromer said the project, tentatively named Knollbrook, would include seven buildings, each with three to four living units. Because the units would be available for purchase, Cromer said he wouldn't classify them as apartments. It is possible, however, that some investors would buy units for use as rental property, he said.

"We're not looking to put in a place that fills up with kids though," Cromer said. "This is in a neighborhood that was developed in the late '60s or early '70s and the folks that live in the neighborhood are generally in their late 40s or early 70s, and that is kind of the target that we're going after to sell to."

Cromer said he hoped the development would appeal to "empty nesters" or young professionals who wanted the benefits of owning a property but didn't want the maintenance or upkeep. Cromer said property owners would pay a fee to belong to an association that will handle all maintenance on the property.

He said each living unit would be two stories and have a two-car garage. He expects the condos to sell for about $200,000 each.

The Southwinds building has been vacant since late 2000 when the nursing home closed because of troubles with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Cromer said the building, which has a partially caved-in ceiling and asbestos problems, would be difficult to redevelop as a nursing home.

"It would cost more to renovate the building than it would to tear it down and start over," Cromer said.

He said he thought a condominium project would fit in well with the city's desire to promote infill development.

"We're really intrigued by the idea of this new urbanism philosophy of increasing density with infill development but not doing it so much that it impacts the neighborhood," Cromer said. "We're trying to keep in line with this smart growth philosophy that everyone is talking about."

Neighbors will have their chance to offer comments on the project. Planning staff member Brad Hauschild said the office would send out written notification of the project next week to all neighbors within 200 feet, and they'll have a chance to file a formal protest petition against the project.

Hauschild said he hadn't yet heard any opposition from neighbors.

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