Archive for Monday, April 10, 2006

Proposal could alter city’s retail future

Planning commission considers new guidelines for development

April 10, 2006


Maybe the city has enough shoe stores. Maybe a new shoe store that wants to locate on the west side of town would cause other shoe stores in the city to go out of business.

Under a proposed set of regulations that planners will consider approving this month, city commissioners would have broad new authority to reject plans for particular types of businesses that would offer competition to existing businesses.

For some, the proposed policy is being hailed as a way to protect the city's valuable, but fragile, downtown.

"I have heard it said that downtown Lawrence is the envy of a 10-state area," said John Haase, a member of the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission and an author of the policy. "The reason we still have a strong downtown is because some strong-willed folks resisted a mall being built south of Lawrence. They resisted the 700 block of downtown being leveled to create an enclosed mall.

"Historically, Lawrence has taken care to preserve its downtown."

This new proposal - up for debate at the Planning Commission's April 19 meeting - would be in that same vein, Haase said. But others see it as a government-imposed damper on the American dream.

The windows at 1029 Mass. tell the story at one vacant downtown storefront. At its April 19 meeting, the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission will consider new rules regarding development that would require a study of the city's current retail climate - including vacant space - before allowing new businesses to open.

The windows at 1029 Mass. tell the story at one vacant downtown storefront. At its April 19 meeting, the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission will consider new rules regarding development that would require a study of the city's current retail climate - including vacant space - before allowing new businesses to open.

"How we approve business in this town is getting to the point that if you want to be in business, you have to go to the governing body and ask if I can be in this particular business," said Brian Kubota, a Lawrence developer and private land-use planner. "That's really concerning to me. We could create a whole set of economic problems for this city."

How it works

The proposed policy would be an addition to the city's recently approved Development Code, which replaced the city's 40-year-old zoning code.

As it is written currently, the addition would require a two-part study of new retail developments - everything from shopping centers to a single retail store - of at least 50,000 square feet:

¢ An independent consultant hired by the city must show the new project would not push the city's overall retail vacancy rate above 8 percent.

¢ A review of sales tax data from a yet-to-be created city database must show the city doesn't already have more of a certain type of proposed store than the city can support. That determination would be made by comparing Lawrence's per capita spending in each retail category with national benchmarks. If an oversupply of stores was found, commissioners could tell the developer of a shopping center those types of stores would not be allowed.

Reader poll
Should the city adopt a new policy that would allow it to be able to prevent a new retail business from coming to town because it might put similar stores out of business?

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Members of the development community have problems with both parts of the new policy.

Several developers and real estate professionals have said the vacancy requirement doesn't take into account how highly dependent retail stores were on being in the right location. In other words, if a shopping center in an older, less vibrant section of town has a high vacancy rate, that shouldn't affect the ability of developers to build a center to serve a growing area of town.

But Haase said communities had a valid purpose in trying to limit their retail vacancy rates. If large portions of shopping centers, for instance, remain vacant for extended periods of time, blight will begin to set in, creating problems for government.

"What we know is if market forces are the only thing allowed to prevail, you end up with a situation like Topeka," Haase said. "In the course of all the development that unfolded, downtown Topeka really suffered dramatically."

And others are reminding people that the public has invested significant amounts of tax dollars into downtown. Government, they say, has a responsibility to protect that investment.

"I don't think there is any effort to hold anybody hostage here," City Commissioner Mike Rundle said. "But we are trying to protect our public investment."

Opponents, though, counter that downtown Lawrence has thrived without these specific regulations.

"It seems like we already have the tools we need to protect downtown," said Kelvin Heck, a broker with the Lawrence commercial real estate firm Grubb & Ellis/The Winbury Group.

Free market concerns

Developers say the proposal also greatly hampers the free market.

"The competitive spirit would be completely eliminated," said Kubota, who is trying to develop property near Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway. "I think you are really playing with fire here. Once you start imposing on the free market with legislation, complacency will set in. People who are in business will not improve their prices, will not improve their customer service. Competition is what makes you do all of that."

Haase, though, said he doubted that was how it would work. He said the proposal would give commissioners the ability to limit uses based on sales tax data, but it did not mandate they do it. City commissioners always would have the ability to approve a project, especially if there was evidence that a particular sector of the retail market wasn't meeting the needs of the community, Haase said.

"It is not like we are passing a constitutional amendment that says they would never be allowed to come into the city," Haase said. "We certainly want to make sure that retail demand is being met."

Balancing act

In fact, Haase said he thought the database of sales tax information would be more useful in helping the community attract new businesses than keeping them out.

For instance, he said if the data showed the community was behind the national averages in certain retail categories, then planners could be attentive to ways to help attract those businesses.

And as far as using the policy to limit new businesses, Haase said he didn't think planners would choose to use the data to micromanage the retail economy. Instead, he said the information likely would be used only to evaluate large projects that could have significant immediate effects.

"If Dillard's were proposed for the west side of Lawrence, I think that would trigger a very serious review," Haase said. "It could affect Weaver's (Department Store) ability to remain viable. As a community, we would really need to talk seriously about that."

Currently, the city would have to rely only on anecdotal evidence to make such a decision because it doesn't have a sales tax database, such as the one that would be created under the proposal.

The proposed changes - which ultimately must be approved by city commissioners before they would take effect - likely will spark significant debate among planning commissioners at their April 19 meeting.

Planning Commissioner Dennis Lawson said the broad goals of protecting downtown and other retail areas were admirable, but he said the proposed policy seemed risky. If government's protection goes too far, it could cause shoppers to leave for Kansas City or Topeka in even greater numbers than they do today.

"People in the community know what they want to buy," Lawson said. "And they certainly will find a venue that is to their liking to satisfy their needs.

"Trying to outguess the market can be risky business. If we guess wrong, it could cause people to go somewhere else to shop."


Steve Jacob 11 years, 11 months ago

This is funny as heck. Pretty much every retail store downtown items are overpriced, and the the city will protect them.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 11 months ago

Developers and real estate people have one thing in mind. It's their pocketbook and really they cannot complain as several have become wealthy mostly from the Lawrence home building industry and now spend a fair amount of time in Florida such as Brian Kubota. I contend this home building has created an inflated property tax situation. Brian doesn't care about our high property taxes as it is probaly an investment to him. He is not the only one and it's okay to make bundles of money but taxpayers must remain practical thinkers.

Out of town shoppers who come to Lawrence head for downtown for the most part because it is likely they have their own Wal-Mart. Also most of our big name stores at 31st and Iowa are small/downsized for a reason. There is not a large enough retail market to support a KC/Overland Park type of store. Large corporations know these things. If not for the state of Kansas and the city of Lawrence Tanger Mall and the Riverfront Plaza would be sitting basically empty. Both have yet still a fair amount of empty space.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 11 months ago

Also sales tax generation is important as well. Communities need to generate so much revenue per square foot of commercial space. There is this myth floating around that more retail space automatically generates more sales tax revenue. That is not likely in a small town like Lawrence. There are only so many sales tax dollars within this community and region. Topeka and KCMO rake in the lions share of sales tax dollars within this region. 12,000-15,000 exit Lawrence heading to work 5 days a week.

If low sales tax revenue is being generated at each location that translates into slow sales, probaly low wage jobs and high turnover in commercial property. This is not good for business or taxpayers. Local taxpayers need to be concerned.

Local developers would love to expand downtown retail because they understand our downtown is a golden cow. Doug Compton is willing to pay more than property value for his latest downtown ventures. Of course this increases property taxes for surrrounding business and rent for current tenants. KC/JOCO investors love buying downtown Lawrence property for a reason.

Competition surrounds Lawrence,Kansas. It's known as Topeka and the KC/JOCO metro area. They are not that far away and offer an extraordinary array of choices and lower prices. Do Lawrence residents shop there? Of course. Many buy vehicles from KC/JOCO vendors. Does anyone honestly believe Lawrence can compete pricewise with Topeka and KC/JOCO?

Lawrence is a small town therefore it is smart to do Economic Impact Studies/Statements before jumping off the cliff. When we moved to Lawrence 20 years ago it did not take long to realize that a shopping trip to KC/JOCO would be necessary from time to time. We were fine with that discovery and today we are still fine with that concept. Shopping malls on every corner are not necessarily beautiful.

What Lawrence needs more than more retail space is excellent paying jobs and light industrial development which includes stem cell research and bio science. Excellent paying jobs is economic development. 12,000-15,000 exit Lawrence heading to work 5 days a week. They eat and shop while away.

Heck/Bittenbender/Kubota Stem Cell Research Center sounds very encouraging.

If the majority of the planning commission are with John Haase they are on the right track. Once again: Lawrence is a small town therefore it is smart to do Economic Impact Studies/Statements before jumping off the cliff.

cowboy 11 years, 11 months ago

What a bunch of communists ! Get government out of the way.Who can state that this group of elected officials has any expertise at all in planning , it is a collection of government employees who know little about business.

More regulations , more bans , more big lines of BS

classclown 11 years, 11 months ago

Apparently somebody forgot to tell these guys that the root of the word progressive is progress. I hardly see how it is legal for the town to dictate what people can or can't sell based on whether or not one of the stores in their stupid precious dowtown(envy of ten states-HAHA) sells them.

What's next? Ban grocery stores from selling produce to protect the farmer's market? Close all bars that are not downtown so that the downtown bars don't have to compete?

I see many lawsuits in the future.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 11 months ago

Actually some of the Planning Commissioners do have planning backgrounds.

With long term interest rates on the rise the Lawrence high dollar home market may slow down. Something else to think about.

classclown 11 years, 11 months ago

Also, what happens if one of the businesses downtown wants to relocate? Will the city disallow it?

cowboy 11 years, 11 months ago

Please oh great knowledable commissars may I have the priveledge of investing MY money in MY own business and take all the risk MYSELF to open a business in the the great province of Lawrence , Ukraine. Oh yes and thank you for increasing the complexity of this to the nth degree so I'll have to spend a small fortune before I will even know if I can open a business because Lord knows that ME , MY BANKER, are too stupid to make this decision on our own. WE need your all powerful approval and guidance. Oh crap I'll just go somewhere else !

Richard Heckler 11 years, 11 months ago

David Burris has economic and/or planning background.

Lisa Harris has planning background.

lunacydetector 11 years, 11 months ago

the root of the problem is they are afraid World Market might come to lawrence and mess with the precious Merc.

haven't they curtailed retail enough as it is? as long as the city keeps out a mall, the downtown will keep on trucking. the reason for all the vacancies downtown is the rent is too high and there isn't enough traffic.

this is lawrence, ks. why not hoist the former soviet union flag down at city hall?

lawrence, kansas business UNfriendly

ps. just imagine some retailer wants to come to lawrence, but they have to check with the city commissioners (who have absolutely ZERO experience in business let alone the city of lawrence -failed golf course, failed transit system etc.) and so the retailer goes onto another town -probably any other city in the country. i have never heard of anything like this proposal.

leave it to the anti-growth nimrods. i can't wait for the next city commission election.

lunacydetector 11 years, 11 months ago

i need to correct myself - i always mess up when the communists p*ss me off.

what i meant was: the root of the problem is they are afraid WHOLE FOODS might come to town and mess with the precious Merc.

okay, carry on.

actually, i was hoping Bozo would've responded already since i think HE or SHE thinks they are a city planner.

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

Sales tax receipts are not a valid measure of how much Lawrence stores sell. The sales tax follows the PURCHASER, not the SELLER. People who come to Lawrence from out of town to buy stuff simply generate more sales tax for their city and county.

Are the city commissioners also going to ban internet sales, too?

Better start asking Gov Sebelius to repeal her precious destination based sales tax measure if you want to increase sales tax revenue in Lawrence.

dthroat 11 years, 11 months ago

Besides all of the arguments already presented here, has anyone noticed the first part of the plan. AN INDEPENDENT CONSULTANT HIRED BY THE CITY to review vacancy and whatnot. More ways to SPEND money the city doesn't (claim) to have.

I think I am going to retire and hang a consultant shingle on an office. I can get rich just off the city.

monkeyhawk 11 years, 11 months ago

Gee, city leaders, I guess you can see you've come up with another one the citizens of Lawrence can really embrace!! Just when I thought there some light at the end of the tunnel, you do it again. Who is putting the pressure on you now?

Thank God for this forum so you can catch the drift of what us little people really think. What ever happened to trying to make Lawrence a bit more business friendly? It doesn't matter how you impose yourselves into my life, I will still feel free to spend my dollars wherever I want (and I spend massive dollars weekly). You need to fact the fact that downtown is primarily a tourist area, with tourist prices, and reverts to a college hangout at night. When I need goods, it never enters my mind to go downtown. Besides, I love low prices.

If I do not find what I want here, I go to Johnson County or Topeka.

optimist 11 years, 11 months ago

Restricting competition will only serve to give Lawrence shoppers less for more. Nothing like making the alternatives (KC, Topeka) more attractive.

While it may be well intended (or not in some cases) this policy can and probably will be harmful. Downtown has survived this long without it. Restricting retail development elsewhere in the city will only serve to increase the costs of retail space downtown.

Bottom line, this policy is un-American!

lunacydetector 11 years, 11 months ago

i want to thank the majority who post on here....we might not agree on everything, but we all agree that the city commission has got to go....

i hope this isn't reason to have my comment removed ....oops, i guess the PLC isn't advertising on the JW website just yet. until that happens, we should all enjoy our freedoms while we have them until we get forced into being censored (by either not being able to comment on PLC items for months, or we get removed - just like the last election) by the luny leftists.

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

This is a recipe for corruption, the type of antics one would expect from a third world country.

Look at it this way: the city commissioners have now admitted through proposed policy that downtown cannot compete, and that the only way it can survive is through government protection.

Boycott downtown.

Sigmund 11 years, 11 months ago

This is truly scary. Prices downtown are high and now the City Commission is going to protect and extend their retail monopoly! Can you imagine how much more valuable that space downtown is going to become! Windfall profits for property owners downtown. Bad news for those of limited income.

Well thankfully they can't control KC, Topeka, or even Eudora. I already buy most things, at least those things I can't get at Walmart, in Kansas City. I hope to spend even less in Lawrence in the future. I feel sorry for those who don't have cars or can't get out of Lawrence regularly.

Downtown Lawrence may be the envy of ten states, but the Lawrence City Kommission is quickly becoming the laughing stock of the nation. They can't plan a sewer system but they can plan a retail economy down to how many shoe stores we need.

Sigmund 11 years, 11 months ago

Oh, BTW, will you now please vote these Kommie idiots out of office??

bankboy119 11 years, 11 months ago

I say we all ban Lawrence, I already have. When I come back I make sure to spend as little as possible...except on Pizza Shuttle or El Mezcal.

monkeyhawk 11 years, 11 months ago

Yes, I will vote for anyone who is not them (as I did in the prior election).

You people have got to quit messing with our pocketbooks, our rights and our freedoms. We are not living the happy lives we expect to live in this idyllic little town.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 11 months ago

If we look around lots and lots of cities are doing whatever is necessary to bring back or revitalize their downtowns. Locally Kansas City and Topeka are in the process. Tulsa and Baltimore have done it as well. Baltimore did a fine job and included lots of new street lights to increase safety. California cities are also on the bandwagon.

Construction and architecture of old downtowns is truly superior otherwise they would have crumbled by now. Apparently these other cities learned a thing or two which is why it is important to spend money on downtowns. We must be money ahead by not allowing our downtown business sector to crumble. Instead it is best to take care of this exisiting resource.

College towns consistently cost more to shop on some things but it's not everything.

Cities need to help save downtowns:

monkeyhawk 11 years, 11 months ago

...or the difference between a theif and a politician - the theif takes your money and leaves, while the politician takes your money tells you why you should feel good about it.

rhd99 11 years, 11 months ago

You know, the thing is & this will surprise everyone here, but you know who I blame for all of this regulation & BANS: RUNDLE! This man does not represent capitalist society. I believe in downtown Lawrence, but competition is a necessity in the business world. Rundle doesn't support the business world. No, he is a SOCIALITE!

Kookamooka 11 years, 11 months ago

Small businesses WANT to get established in downtown but CAN't AFFORD to. I'm furious that great local shops like Her Father's Daughter, Crafty and Co, The Children's Bookshop, Children's Orchard, and Play it again Sports, have all gone out of business. If you ask these former retailers why...the answer for many is RENT IS TOO HIGH! The Landlords are the ones SCREWING our city. They make it impossible for established businesses with good clientel to expand into downtown. They wait for a big name like Banana Republic to pay out the wazoo for space in our "precious" downtown but guess what....even Banana Republic knows rents are out of sync with revenue. Just ask Eddie Bauer. Cities like Baldwin, Eudora and Tongie are poised for what I'm predicting will be Lawrence "Flight" of small businesses. Until the landlords set realistic rents and start caring for the buildings, small businesses with a "dream" will BUY buildings in other towns.

Kookamooka 11 years, 11 months ago

How does $300,000 a year sound for rent on an ancient building near downtown with no a/c? Check out the old Reuter Organ Building. Even the J-World won't touch it! They'd rather wait for it's sale, tear it down and expand.

Jamesaust 11 years, 11 months ago

There's nothing wrong with being cautious over large retail developments. As we all could see with the Payless Cashways building on South Iowa, extremely large properties, when they fail, can sit idle for years and years, dragging down the entire area's economic vitality.

Anyone who believes the issue is 'the American dream' (whatever that is supposed to be) can wander around downtown Topeka to get a preview.

Sigmund 11 years, 11 months ago


Unless you own poperty downtown, its not "your or our" downtown. It's a handfull owners who are trying to protect their property values by restricting competition. The way to keep it from "crumbling" is to allow those values to reflect reality which in many cases is lower than what they now charge.

Cut those values in half and you will have the most vibarant downtown you can imagine! Why? With cheaper rents businesses can charge less and still make a profit. Protect them from competition and what happens? Values will continue to artifically rise keeping prices high.

I suggest you look at the history of centrally planned economies and their lack of success. Further, as lunacy_detector pointed out, this much power to protect or prevent bussiness in Lawrence can only lead to corruption and graft.

rhd99 11 years, 11 months ago

If the landlords are screwing business owners OUT of lots of money, where are these landlords from? L.A., Chicago, NYC?! If we have some here in Lawrence, let's track them down. Wait, we don't have the resources or the backbone to initiate such action, because if Rundle's record proves true, he imposes ordinances & bans & has no spine to enforce those regs.

BJ 11 years, 11 months ago

As long as the property taxes are as outrageous as they are in downtown, no plan will work including Haase's or Rundle's (no matter what you think of them). Work on that, and I assure you that we won't have as many empty buildings as we have, and less people will go (read: have to go) to KC. And if the argument is that lower property taxes will bring in less revenue for the city, then let's stop spending money on the rediculous projects that the City Commission underwrites (i.e. "the Wet Shelter"). Have a nice day. BJ

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago


Not true. It would affect a 50,000 sq ft shopping center, that could be home to many small businesses.

This is special interest protectionism at its worst.

rhd99 11 years, 11 months ago

Then it's time for the Commission to rein in property value price gauging. Real estate prices are OUT OF CONTROL. The prices for houses & other property values are determined how? Through detailed analysis of economic indicators here in Lawrence & Douglas County? Are you kidding me? Prices are artificially pulled out of thin air. That is why the Children's book shop & Play it Again Sports went bye-bye. Who is determining these STUPID prices? I don't think it's us. YOU who engage in property value price gauging in Lawrence take heed: There is a a price on YOUR heads. Amyx & the city commission say they want downtown to be a vital engine in our economy. It's time for these people to put their money where their mouths are. Investigate & stop the property price gauging, Commission, or you all will be out of a job!

rhd99 11 years, 11 months ago

This one's for the planning commission as well as the city commission when guiding our city's retail future: PUT UP OR SHUT UP!

SpeedRacer 11 years, 11 months ago

The last 3 times I have been downtown to "shop", I have ended up buying nothing. Most of the stores have overpriced stock or are geared to the college crowd. The future of downtown would best be to gear it towards more of a restaurant and entertainment district.

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

rhd99, the city commissioners have no control over the price of real estate or rent. It is simply a matter of what people are willing to pay.

The appraiser uses recent sales to determine market value, and sale prices for downtown property have been high in the last several months.

Ten years from now, downtown will be nothing but lawyers, bankers, accountants, brokers, restaurants and high dollar boutiques, catering to the wealthy.

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

Billyflay, the Maharishi people are doing just what you propose in their Vedic City near Fairfield! They have established their own currency that will be viable there and in the other cities they plan to establish.

lunacydetector 11 years, 11 months ago

lawrence isn't some hayseed city where a walmart will remove a downtown. look at the business mix downtown...mostly bars/restaurants, and second stores or arts & crafts stores. some of those stores are owned by rich guys who want to give their wives something to do with their free time.

notice how there are vacancies downtown but essentially nowhere else? downtown is high priced because their property taxes say so.

so, we are going to go even further in subsidizing the downtown by limiting any new shopping or large retail stores.

notice all the JW stories regarding the downtown? first there was the lawrence arts center - built based on 'suspect' attendance figures of 350,000 visitors a year. does this mean that 1 out of 9 cars that travel on massachusetts street daily is going to the lawrence arts center? that must mean that 2 out of 9 cars MUST be going to the lawrence public library - because surely they get twice as many visitors a day - surely justifying the $30,000,000 price tag we the taxpayers will be forking over. who woulda thunk that?

the air is thick with smoke if you cannot see yet another subsidy for the downtown, courtesy of the lawrence taxpayers.

when will the city take the time to stop and smell the $80,000 worth of roses. :)

Sharon Nottingham 11 years, 11 months ago

Do the communists. . .I mean, commissioners just sit around "inventing" new ways to piss the general public off? Next election my vote will not go to any of these idiots.

Kookamooka 11 years, 11 months ago

Hey! I really like the idea of the gondolas, lets use the KAW!

If property taxes are setting the price of rent downtown, then why doesn't the city come up with a tax incentive that is dependent upon the landlord lowering his rent to the retailer? Based on some formula of rent to revenue?

Is there a board of downtown land owners who gather to discuss these issues? Even if they are in California. There has to be a solution that can help the small businesses downtown get a competitive edge on the strip malls WITHOUT restricting competition. How about lowering rents, offering tax incentives (just like you would with a big corporation!) and offering seminars for the retailers on customer service. I shop in KC simply because there isn't enough product choice in my price range. Limiting that choice further is a BAD IDEA!

rhd99 11 years, 11 months ago

Godot, thank you for the clarification, but City Hall does have something to do with this retail controversey. Why? Well, it's all about tax policy. The Commission is supposed to set a tax policy into place. That policy then determines how much one can afford to locate a business or buy a home or rent here in Lawrence. So far, the tax code for Lawrence is BROKEN. Why are the large corporations getting the tax breaks while leaving the downtown merchants like Play it Again Sports high & dry with no place to go, but out? I know, it's about the appraisal process, & that some are willing to go high dollar for a high price, but where does that get us? Is this the kind of American dream Lawrence's elected leaders want for all of us residents? If so, then as one person put it, each of the idiots who seek re-election to the City Commission will have an uphill battle in their bids for office, won't they? This issue does not represent the promise of the American Dream. It doesn't even come close!

Rationalanimal 11 years, 11 months ago

I thought the manure stench in air this morning during my walk was Pendleton farms. Turns out it was the stench of chronism wafting ripely from City Hall.

I'll concede there are at least 10 states that envy Lawrence's fine philosophy of how government should control an economy. Among them are Cuba, China, North Korea, Vietnam, and all the old Eastern European countries.

I keep telling everyone the agenda is to build a socialist great society. This is what you get: crumbling roads and public works, stoned people, pay-offs, kickbacks, chronism, high cost of living, low wages, and government sponsored monopolies. What a utopia. All you Das Kapitalites out there just can't seem to let it go that socialism has failed or is failing any place it's been tried. Like all other socialist experiments, Lawrence's current coures is the Titanic on course with an economic iceberg.

If this goes through, I swear I will never spend another dime in the downtown district. I will go out of my way to shop outside of Lawrence, and in the event I just have to buy something in Lawrence, it will be from a big-box store or a chain restaraunt.

rhd99 11 years, 11 months ago

Rational, I know what you're saying! How then do you suggest that we get rid of this socialist behavior? The people of Lawrence who voted for the two numbskulls (Rundle & Schauner) want Lawrence to go in flames. How do we take back Lawrence, so that we are our OWN community, & not some bedroom city to K.C. or Topeka?

lunacydetector 11 years, 11 months ago

kookamooka, if there was some sort of tax incentive for downtown businesses like offered to big corporations then the stores would have to pay a LIVING WAGE! bwahahahaha, but that wouldn't happen because blatent tax incentives can only be used for manufacturers.

don't forget the sprinkler system paid for by the taxpayers proposal even though the water lines being installed cannot handle the extra water necessary - making that idea even MORE costly. .

i always wondered what happened after the soviet union crashed and burned. their leaders moved to lawrence.

WANTED: some thick skinned business people to run for office who can handle the harrassment of the lunatic fringe. must be mean spirited and divisive. :)

brfts 11 years, 11 months ago

To all of you right-wingers complaining..I say get out of Lawrence if you don't like it! It is and always will be the liberal bastion of Kansas! There are tons of other hick towns around to choose from.

Rationalanimal 11 years, 11 months ago

rhd99. The "keep the downtown identity perfectly as it is" camp falls into fallacious logic. That is, they assume that downtown is the identity of Lawrence. Folks, we have a little institution here called the University of Kansas. Sorry to dissappoint some people, but Lawrence's reputation and influence traveling outside of the city limits is due to KU, not the dilapidated roads and downtown district. What the City Commission proposes is a vicious cycle: stunt the growth so the cost of real estate goes up; when the cost of real estate goes up $8.00 an hour wage doesn't go as far, resulting in wage inflation; wage inflation requires owners to increase prices raising the cost of living, including increasing real estate; the cycle then starts all over.

The best solution that has been proven over and over is to let reasonable competition keep the economic herd healthy. Competition then creates growth which in turn creates more pie for everyone to share.

There's nothing wrong with a City planning out its future. But planning is a qualitatively different thing than micro-regulating down to the last shoe who can have what business and where. This proposal will kill any small entrepreneur wanting to open a store on Mass or anywhere else in Lawrence for that matter. This proposal will effect the small entrepreneur wanting to open a running shoe store out on 6th and Walkarusa because they will effect the shoe store on Mass. The net effect is that the small entreprenour will be at a fatal disadvantage while the old chronies in the downtown area will never have to worry about any legitimate competition. The result, college students will pay $60 for a pair of running sneakers that cost $30 at Costco.

As to the maintaining the City's identity. Overland Park, Lenexa, and Olathe are all examples of growing communities that are actually increasing their identities' presence in this region. Why? Because they are growing. The fate of Lawrence's identity lives and dies with its growth. Evidence, look at all the ghost towns in southwest Kansas. Their all in the history books and all but forgotten because they stopped growing. As long as Lawrence is growing, our identity will do so as well. Incidentally, Topeka is a prime example of a city losing its identity for the opposite reason, lack of growth.

rhd99 11 years, 11 months ago

Lunacy, don't forget the roundabouts that cost you me & others here an arm & a leg.

Rationalanimal 11 years, 11 months ago

Thanks Marion. Just trying to fulfill the human duty of being rational.

rhd99 11 years, 11 months ago

This is way off the subject, but now Fred Phelpps & his followers are protesting outside Walter Reed Army Medical Center in D.C., claiming that the soldiers injured who are staying there are being punished for defending a country that supports gay rights. I don't care how one feels about the war or gay rights, but I am greatly offended that this group wants to taint the military's image & mock our wounded veterans. HOW UNAMERICAN IS THAT?

Richard Heckler 11 years, 11 months ago

This commission nor any past commission has stunted Lawrence growth. One of the two major industries,which is housing, has been free to grow plenty. The end result thus far is high property cost most everywhere in Douglas County and high personal property taxes in Douglas County both of which become negatives when some light industrial may consider locating in Lawrence.

Downtown real estate is seen as a healthy investment which is why there is no shortage of investors no matter what the price. Some local investors are perfect examples.

There is plenty of new retail with a green light in SE Lawrence and the New Urbanism project on west 6th. Lawrence, Kansas is not one step from the morgue.

We have three major industries in Lawrence. KU, home building and basketball. Yes there are people on the planet that love to come shop downtown Lawrence. It's the social and friendly atmosphere of Lawrence, Kansas.

What will prevent new business from succeeding will be lack of retail shoppers, high property cost and high property taxes.

I would rather imagine other communities use Economic Impact Studies and consultants before making business decisions. If the Lawrence retail market were so hot we'd likely have a full size Dillards and a Jones Store and very large expansive car lots. Lawrence may have a low image which is not attractive to retail.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 11 months ago

Almost forgot to mention new retail activity in Old East Lawrence is on the table as well as new housing. New housing at 15th and Haskell well underway to become neighbors with The Woods a new housing project in the Barker Neighborhood. Brian Kubuta has lots of new development on his plate off west 6th.

No stunted growth in Lawrence except for good paying jobs.

girly 11 years, 11 months ago

It's okay, limit the number of shoe stores in town, we all go to Overland Park to Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW) anyway! All the shoes in this town are marketed towards college kids, are chunky, ugly and overpriced!

Richard Heckler 11 years, 11 months ago

What I meant to say was that Lawrence may have a low wage image which is not attractive to retail. Most all retail is directed at the KU population so there you have it. They must be the big spenders.

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

Hipgal wrote: "Do the communists. . .I mean, commissioners just sit around "inventing" new ways to piss the general public off?"

Maybe. The purpose of the PLC is to promote the national agenda of the far left, those who are tied to Moveon.Org. As proven by merrill's link, which I will repeat, and I hope you will investigate. Once there, continue following the links, and so on.....

Linda Aikins 11 years, 11 months ago

Dangit, BlueHarley. Now I have that song in my head. And yes, I know all the words.

dviper 11 years, 11 months ago

Change the name of the city of Lawrence to Moscow in the above news article and you would likely believe this was just another piece of Russian, communist news.

People, please get out and vote in the next local election. Please tell all your neighbors who work outside of Lawrence to vote. If the current city commissioners are not voted out, we the taxpayers are in for a lot more of these types of communistic ideals, ignorant policies, and tax increases. These commissioners and their political appointees like Haase and Burris do not have the experience or knowledge to be making important decisions affecting the city of Lawrence and its future. These people need to be voted out before it is too late.

Most everyone I talk to would love for Lawrence to have a nice mall, preferably on the south or west side of Lawrence. It seems the city commission and their radical Liberal / Communist base of supporters would rather have the government control all business instead of the free market. They would rather see 120 small stores and numerous strip malls scattered all over the city instead of a nice mall. And of the 120 small stores they of course would have to meet the subjective control of the local Liberal / Communist commissioners, and their radical left wing supporters.

People please get out and vote in the next local election.

classclown 11 years, 11 months ago

Gootsie that song is in my head too. I didn't need to click the link to know what it was about. Although I probably should. Are the lyrics there? If I have to have a song stuck in my head, at least it should be the whole song and not just a small portion playing over and over like a broken record.

MyName 11 years, 11 months ago

Right, this is a dumb idea. I guess that's the nice thing about a democracy: if someone has a dumb idea, you can shoot it down and move on.

bthom37 11 years, 11 months ago

Man, you guys are awful. You've totally driven up the price of tinfoil in Lawrence!

What am I supposed to make my hat from now, saran wrap?

Jeesh. Some people.

Jay_Z 11 years, 11 months ago

So when will the Russian architecture be erected downtown? All hail the Kommission!

bthom37 11 years, 11 months ago

Is that what it was Marion?

Because I can tell he's using English words, but they don't seem to mean anything the way he's strung them together.

It's like instead of an infinite number of monkeys typing, he's the 23 monkey version.

And that is not Hamlet he's produced.

bthom37 11 years, 11 months ago

I've been exposed!


Quick, imagine I just threw down a smoke bomb, and dashed out the side door!

More to the point, I felt my infinite monkeys vs 23 monkeys was actually pretty funny.

And even more to the point, I don't find truthlawrence's posts to be worth the effort to decipher his ravings, since they're presented in a format that automatically says 'none too bright'. 90% of life is presentation, for better or worse, and he presents himself terribly. On the other hand, I always read your posts in full Marion. 80% of the time I don't agree with you, but your posts are almost always worth reading.

And I have no dogs in this fight, as I have no idea what the PLC is (Popular Lawrence Center? Puppies Loving Chicken?).

Just having some fun. Hope everyone else is too!

cowboy 11 years, 11 months ago

Eliminate Redundant Commission Approvals Ban any spending on consultants , if you can't do your job , quit Move the homeless out of Lawrence Create an architectural standard and then get out of the way , let the developer invest and build

Ban the use of partical board siding in the city, no more townhome ghettos

Allow demolition of rickety and old properties and infiling for 1000 sq ft homes built by a newly formed non-profit , many of us tradespeople are slow in the winter and might work for a little less for a good cause

License and inspect ALL rental property to meet minimum code and safety requirements. condemn those that are not repaired.

Create a incubator biz district off downtown for locally owned startups with special consideration for those that can teach a trade or specialty skill.

Fire the C of C

Instead of growing the city budget each year , demand efficiencies that will save labor , lower costs , and improve service to the customer !

Remove the hideous roundabout at Clinton Lake

Make 31st as big as you legally can , extend it to K 10

Send these whackos packing

Sharon Nottingham 11 years, 11 months ago

Here are the lyrics, blueharley!

When you're alone and life is making you lonely You can always go - downtown When you've got worries, all the noise and the hurry Seems to help, I know - downtown Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty How can you lose?

The lights are much brighter there You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares So go downtown, things'll be great when you're Downtown - no finer place, for sure Downtown - everything's waiting for you

Don't hang around and let your problems surround you There are movie shows - downtown Maybe you know some little places to go to Where they never close - downtown Just listen to the rhythm of a gentle bossa nova You'll be dancing with him too before the night is over Happy again

The lights are much brighter there You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares So go downtown, where all the lights are bright Downtown - waiting for you tonight Downtown - you're gonna be all right now

[Instrumental break]

And you may find somebody kind to help and understand you Someone who is just like you and needs a gentle hand to Guide them along

So maybe I'll see you there We can forget all our troubles, forget all our cares So go downtown, things'll be great when you're Downtown - don't wait a minute for Downtown - everything's waiting for you

Downtown, downtown, downtown, downtown ...

Wilbur_Nether 11 years, 11 months ago

I don't think the City Commissioners exactly qualify as "Communists." At least, not the way I've read Marx. And they certainly lack the violet interpretations of Lenin.

However, I do suspect that Adam Smith is rolling over in his grave right now. Not that I'm going to dig him up to check.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 11 months ago


Economic and Fiscal Effects Burden to Taxpayers. Over time, population growth in and around cities almost invariably raises the tax burden on existing residents to pay for more complex infrastructure, larger facilities, and more services.73 Per capita taxes rise more or less proportionately with city size.74 Water and sewage systems exemplify facilities that are typically collectivized as an area urbanizes - and are funded by raising property taxes or other assessments on residents and property owners. Although rural residents often have their own drinking water wells and septic systems, these private facilities are usually replaced with much more complex public water supply systems (including reservoirs, treatment plants, water tanks, raw and treated water transmission mains, and distribution lines) and public sewage collection and treatment systems (including sewer lines, sewage treatment plants, sludge disposal operations, etc.) as the area grows. All of this comes with a hefty price tag.

Oregon planning consultant Eben Fodor estimated that in Oregon, each new single-family house cost taxpayers more than $33,200 to pay for the expanded public facilities and infrastructure needed to accommodate this permanent increase in the size of the local population. This comes to about $16,300 for each new resident. Items included in this tally were schools, sanitary sewerage, transportation facilities, water systems, parks/recreation facilities, stormwater drainage, fire protection facilities, library facilities, and electric power generation and distribution facilities.75 Only the capital costs of these public sector facilities, not the operation and maintenance costs, were included in Fodor's analysis. Other types of costs - such as police, jail and corrections facilities, solid waste disposal facilities, and general government facilities were omitted from the study due to budgetary constraints. Privately-funded costs, such as local streets, sidewalks, water and sewer lines, were also excluded. Fodor concluded that existing communities acted as "cash cows" for the new development.76

Carrying Capacity Network extrapolated Fodor's findings to 730 municipalities around the United States.77 The national average cost of each person added to the population was approximately $15,400, or $31,400 for a typical, new three-bedroom single family house. Costs per new resident ranged from about $12,600 in several towns in the South to almost $24,000 in King

Much much more even on Outsmarting Smart Growth

boatman8325 11 years, 11 months ago

This has got to be a joke, right. There is no way the city would stop a business from coming into town because a similiar business is already here. Oh, I forgot, this is Kansas the home of intelligent design and now the home of abstinence only for sex education. And now you will need the government to allow you to risk your own money on your own business. This is just plain nuts!!!!!!!!!!!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 11 months ago

I'm skeptical of the plan being floated at the planning commission by Haase (originally appointed by a republican County Commissioner, not a PLC City Commissioner, BTW.) But not because he doesn't have legitimate concerns.

The "market" and developers run amok will almost certainly guarantee oversaturation of certain retail sectors, with resulting failure of some of those retail establishments. This will almost certainly result in some level of blight somewhere in the city, and when that happens, everybody pays in one way or the other-- everybody except for the developers who never saw a bad or unnecessary project idea.

But I'm not convinced that the planning and city commissions can be given the tools to fairly decide which businesses can and can't be allowed to establish themselves. I think all they can do is decide the amount and intensity of retail in any given location, such as they have attempted to do with walmart's prospective new store (and we really don't need another walmart.)

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