Bob Moody is getting plenty of new neighbors: more homes, more businesses and more activity in North Lawrence.
After 28 years in the neighborhood, it's quite a welcome - and somewhat worrisome - switch.
"There's a proliferation of homes being built," said Moody, who spent two terms as a Lawrence city commissioner, including a year as mayor. "I think North Lawrence is being discovered, and there's good and bad associated with that.
"Obviously, the more homes that are in North Lawrence, the more it increases the chances of attracting a grocery store in the area, and getting some of the services over here in the area that we want. But it also exacerbates existing problems. It's kind of a 50-50 wash."
North Lawrence, the city's low-lying area north of the Kansas River, is only part of the increasing investment going on in and adjacent to the northern reaches of town:
¢ ICL Performance Products LC, a subsidiary of Israel Products Ltd., an Israeli conglomerate, last year purchased the former Astaris phosphates plant at the edge of North Lawrence, injecting stability and capital into an operation that employs 160 people.
¢ North Town, located on the 5-acre site of a former asphalt plant along North Second Street, is giving small businesses a chance to own their own space in a communal setting. The "business condominium" concept is considered a first for Lawrence, and already has attracted several tenants: Combs Custom Cycle, a crop-insurance office and a church.
¢ O'Malley Beverage of Kansas Inc. bought the former Classic Eagle Distributing LLC, making it the new distributor of Anheuser-Busch products in and around Lawrence. The business is at 2050 Packer Court in northern Lawrence.
¢ Dozens of new homes are popping up on lots in North Lawrence, where residential lots tend to be larger and more affordable than elsewhere in town.
Such business projects come as the area's future is very much in focus for leaders in government and economic development.
City commissioners continue to study drainage issues in North Lawrence, an area that relies largely on roadside ditches to remove water that doesn't have time to seep through its fertile, sandy soil.
The city hired HNTB to review the area's drainage conditions and recommended projects to solve problems. The firm's conclusion: The city needs $41 million to address drainage problems, both present and future.
Simply upgrading existing systems would cost $16.2 million, the firm said in a report. The remainder would address problems farther upstream, such as the area near Teepee Junction, which is near the intersection of U.S. Highways 59 and 24-40.
Commissioners have yet to set firm timelines for any of the projects included in the report.
Another report, this one from the Lawrence-Douglas County Economic Development Board, calls for developing a business park on agricultural land near Lawrence Municipal Airport.
The board has been working for months to identify options for boosting the community's supply of industrial land, particularly in lots large enough to accommodate expanding Lawrence businesses or draw new owners from out of town.
Board members consider the area near the airport attractive, given its proximity to the airport itself and to the Kansas Turnpike, a prime transportation route.