Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Business deal may force closing of The Crossing

Building that houses bar sold, may become mixed-use development

June 22, 2006


Kansas University students and professors thirsting for an after-school beer may soon have to look farther down the road.

The property containing the popular campus watering hole The Crossing got a new owner Monday and, along with it, a new plan for the corner of 12th and Indiana streets.

Manhattan lawyer Robert Pottroff bought the property from former owner Leita Martin for an estimated $450,000 with plans to turn the site into a mixed-use development complete with residential, retail and commercial tenants.

"I'm working frantically to build a plan that works with everybody's expectation," Pottroff, a 1979 KU Law School graduate, said of his desire to have a development that meets the approval of the city and neighbors, including the university.

The Crossing, 618 W. 12th St., a longtime college bar and Lawrence institution, may be closing because the building was purchased by a Manhattan lawyer who has plans for a new mixed-use development.

The Crossing, 618 W. 12th St., a longtime college bar and Lawrence institution, may be closing because the building was purchased by a Manhattan lawyer who has plans for a new mixed-use development.

The tentative plan, Pottroff said, would include razing the current structures and replacing them with a single, mixed-use building that would act as a gateway to the university. The building would likely be called "The Rock Chalk," he said.

But whether those plans include space for The Crossing - an early incarnation of which was called the Rock Chalk Cafe - remains uncertain.

The bar business, which does not include the building, was for sale before Pottroff bought the property. And a pending sale of The Crossing has become complicated by the change in building ownership.

Andrew Lynn, a partner in Beanie's Crossing LLC, said he's now having second thoughts about his group's potential deal to purchase the bar from current owner Dave Boulter.

The Crossing

618 W. 12th St., Lawrence


"We were going to continue the business as-is," Lynn said.

But it is unclear what might happen with the bar's lease because the property has changed hands, Lynn said.

Without some kind of an extended lease in place, Lynn said buying the bar probably wouldn't be worth it. The current lease on the property was signed by Martin and Boulter, but it may not hold under the new owner.

Boulter said he and The Crossing's co-owners have their sights on other projects in town and are still looking to sell. But he said he didn't know what they'd do if Lynn steps away from the deal.

Pottroff said he was working with Lynn's attorney to hammer out details of The Crossing's lease.

The development project will also likely hinge on the property next door, owned by Jeff Morrow, which houses Yello Sub and a hair salon. Pottroff wouldn't comment on his contact with Morrow over the building.

Morrow couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Pottroff said he plans to continue meeting with Lawrence city staff, his architects, Kansas University officials and members of the Oread Neighborhood Assn. to develop options for what kind of a building and occupants are best suited for the property.

He said that he has heard concerns about traffic flow stemming from increased density on the corner, but said he would work closely with the city and the neighborhood to assure that everyone is content with whatever new development is built.

Pottroff wouldn't speculate about what might eventually happen to The Crossing, except to say that the building currently housing it likely will disappear.

But there's still some time for a few beers at the campus watering hole.

"You'll certainly see it open through the next year," Boulter said.


planetwax 11 years, 11 months ago

Ugh, just what I didn't want to read. It is sad, sad, sad. But, the place hasn't been the same since Tom left, anyway.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 11 months ago

"The property containing the popular campus watering hole The Crossing"

It's not really popular at all, considering it's location and provenance. It has become more of a landmark than anything. Maybe it has outlived it's worth and it's time for something new.

cutny 11 years, 11 months ago

Lawyers as landlords/ their mothers even love them?

dlstrohm 11 years, 11 months ago

"Not really popular?" Just try to get on that deck on a warm April afternoon. Or around graduation. Or around the start of a new school year. Or any nice day while school is in, really. I would argue The Crossing is one of the more popular, consistent bars in Lawrence, with the exception that it is unique in its peak periods. But that's why it's nothing fancy...low overheads to make money at specific times. I'll be sad to see the crossing go.

livn4it 11 years, 11 months ago

If anybody wants to keep this place around we should call the city and express our concern. It's a landmark! How many people have at least one memory at the place. It's been there for over 70 years! This doesn't belong to some lawyer/developer, it belongs to everyone!!!!

Lydia Diebolt 11 years, 11 months ago

I'll be sad to see it go. I spent many Fridays at the Crossing drinking beer and soaking up the sun. I missed a lot of class too! Sigh.... I am getting old.

admills 11 years, 11 months ago

Have any of you been in there recently? It's definitely not a "well kept" building. The only attractive thing about it is the deck and lots of bars have that now. Also, you can't even buy real beer there. Just that "near beer" 3.2 stuff. All that does is make you fat and have to pee more.

livn4it 11 years, 11 months ago

I think the major issue is that it is the only bar that has a view of campus. It has been grandfathered in because of age. Now with zoning, if the building goes so does the license. which====not one bar in town with view of campus.

freudian_slip 11 years, 11 months ago

"This doesn't belong to some lawyer/developer, it belongs to everyone!!!!"

Actually, it belongs (or will) to the lawyer. Hooray for an individual taking the initiative to update/improve our surroundings with money out of their own pocket and not more of our tax dollars. Hopefully he will put in another deck or outdoor seating.

I'm sure the beer will still taste the same!

usaschools 11 years, 11 months ago

The Crossing is part of Lawrence culture. It may not be part of YOUR culture, but it means a lot to a lot of people. It is more than a bar, it has been a gathering spot for certain kinds of folks since the mid 1800's. It would be a terrible shame to tear down this landmark. Those of you who are callous toward those who cherish the Crossing clearly have no personal interest in it. Can't you see that many people in this community do? Just because you don't care doesn't mean no one should.

freudian_slip 11 years, 11 months ago


If this is such a landmark, how come all of it's supporters have not come up with a plan to keep it around? If one lone man can buy it and rebuild, how come the staunch supporters and "culturalists" can't? It's called progress. The bigger picture is what is good for Lawrence. If you people care about Lawrence, you will support the new building too. The beer tastes the same, it will just be in a different "wrapper".

Are you serious about the "callous" remark. It's like we tore the head off of your kitty!

Melissa Kounelaki 11 years, 11 months ago

This is sad. Though I don't have any particular favorite memories of the Crossing, it is a Lawrence institution. And Yello Sub better not be a part of the deal! Leave YS alone! Maybe this is just the progression of Lawrence...let the rich and souless take over and those of us who cherish this as a "special" place might need to move on, since we can't afford to buy a house here anyway after 20 years of renting and paying taxes.

Emily Hadley 11 years, 11 months ago

I have held out hope that someone could revive the awesome spot in the back, which hasn't stayed open long since Sebastian's closed.

I suppose people probably complained when Rudy's opened downtown as well, like I did when I couldn't buy music on the corner while waiting for my sandwich, but it really is nice to look down the block from the Union and see those invitingly weathered, homey buildings rather than a shoddy new pre-fab building like so many new places.

Give 'em hell, Subhumans! Don't let 'em push you around.

I am worried about the erosion & losing the trees when they raze the building, but I guess we should hold off the full scale attack until we see some ideas or designs...

usaschools 11 years, 11 months ago

freudian, Don't be condescending. Tearing down something many Lawrencians love is not progress. Every time a new structure is built it is not evidence of progress. It could be a huge mistake.

The question you pose is ridiculous. You wrote,"If this is such a landmark, how come all of it's supporters have not come up with a plan to keep it around?" No one in the general public knew about this until today! The rumor around town as of yesterday was that the Crossing might have live music again. This is a huge surprise. Most people will feel powerless to do anything due to the private property issues; that doesn't mean the loss of the Crossing would not be a blow to many people and to the spirit of Lawrence.

There is nothing bad about the Crossing that would make it's continued existence bad for Lawrence. There is nothing inherently "good" about the proposed new project that would make it "good for Lawrence." You seem to have the illogical view that anything new is good and an improvement. That is a circular logic.

It is pretty obvious that you couldn't care less about the crossing, so maybe you should just move on.

freudian_slip 11 years, 11 months ago


I actually heard of this potential change in ownership at least two weeks ago from a commercial realtor and from a patron inside the Crossing on Saturday. I guess the staunch followers who frequent the place don't talk to people while they are there?

I didn't make a blanket statement saying all new construction is good and old is bad. I actually purchased a very expensive home recently in an older neighborhood here because I can appreciate the charm and history of it, and I know new home construction is typically crap. I'm not black and white on old versus new. Get the facts before accusing someone of making a blanket statement.

Once you wipe away your tears you can read the next line...I am a former realtor and current architect. I can appreciate "progress" when I see it in our community. I don't know what the plans specifically are for the new site, but you don't either. How do you know it won't be good? Another blanket statement.

staff04 11 years, 11 months ago

From what the article says, it sounds like Yellow Sub goes down too. It mentions tearing down "buildingS," not just a building. Besides, how would there ever be enough space there for a "mixed use" property?

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

USAschools wrote, " No one in the general public knew about this until today! "

Um, there have been ads in the classifieds. I inquired about it more than a year ago.

Not everything is on the front page, dear. Sometimes you have to dig a little.

fletch 11 years, 11 months ago

staff04: I think the "buildings" the article refers to are The Crossing and the small coffee house behind it (the name has changed a lot recently). It references that YS's building is owned by somebody else.

I really hope they don't demolish The Crossing, if for no other reason than the building looks great in combination with Yello Sub. You look down Oread and see these great old style buildings that blend nicely with the neighborhood and trees. I remember when I toured KU, I thought it was so cool that there was a sandwhich place and a bar right off of campus that I could walk to. During my undergrad years, I went to YS almost every single Friday for lunch. When I turned 21, I got my first legal after class drink at The Crossing.

Those buildings hold a lot of memories for almost everybody that went through KU. It would be a shame if some pre-packaged strip mall got built there. It would be utterly un-Lawrence and un-KU, definately not a good "gateway" to the University. I really hope this developer looks into places like Ames, Albuquerque, and Austin where the areas surrounding the Universities still retain their authentic buildings and look while being home to retail businesses. Better yet, keep the building and put in a greasy spoon restaurant that serves beer. The Crossing's grandfather clause regarding alcohol sales is probably worth a lot to keep going.

usaschools 11 years, 11 months ago

When I said no one knew about it, I meant that no one knew that the crossing would be closed or the building destroyed. This was not public knowledge until today. It is ridiculous to suggest that those who love the Crossing would somehow band together and buy the property.

The reason, of condescending freudian, that I know that tearing it down won't be good is the loss of the current landmark structure. Duh. I know you didn't make a blanket statement, so you can backpedal now, but your bias toward the new construction came through loud and clear.

c_hope 11 years, 11 months ago

freudiam_slip..ive been told the lawyer is not buying the crossing to make improvements. he wants to buy it and the housing around and tear it down to put up luxury condominiums...which means yellosub is most likely gonna go at some point too. very sad.

justmehere 11 years, 11 months ago

Ahh bless...I too remember seeing many a band play at the Crossing. Anyone remember Hammergod? LOL..It IS a shame to see it go, however, you do have admit that once a person is done with college, they most likely won't frequent the joint as much. It's also a shame to see that the KU kids today don't have much respect for salvaging a campus icon. I have to remind myself that these kids are from suburbia and really don't care too much about the place. Maybe if it resembled a Starbuck's or something? Oops, sorry..that wasn't very nice. A shame not everywhere can be a "Little Westport." <~~ saecasm. I know! Maybe we can petition for them to build the biggest roundabout Lawrence has ever seen and plant some pretty flowers on it? Then we can put a memorial in the middle "Here lies the remains of the Crossing. RIP." Hahaha...sorry. Well, at least if it's torn down, it can't become a strip club like the Outhouse did. ;) Have a good one all!

usaschools 11 years, 11 months ago

Fellow Posters, I apologize for being grumpy about this. I realize it is more of an emotional issue with me than a rational one. I am very fond of the Crossing, particularly during the time period when the owner of Conroy's pub operated the bar and the "rock chalk" period prior to that. It really will hurt if they tear down that building and I know it will hurt many others as well. Many of us started many long-time friendships there and I know more than one person who met their spouse there! This is hallowed ground to many and the idea of some sort of upscale development there is irritating.

Is this Manhattan investor the same one who was involved in the quite questionable sale of "Rocky Ford" the PUBLIC fishing area north of Manhattan that the State sold with virtually no notice? The name sounds familiar.

freudian_slip 11 years, 11 months ago


I am biased. Towards anything I believe in. I can't argue for or against the specifics on this redevelopment, but I don't have a lot of tolerance for people who think that property should remain unchanged because they "remember it well" from their college days. I'm not arguing with anyone that the current architecture adds character. No one has said that YS is not coming back as tenant in the new building. There are plenty of locations for YS to move to if they need to that are just as convenient.

Must I say again...progress.

"You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing new ideas."

usaschools 11 years, 11 months ago

sasquatch, you are an ass. BTW, the Vietnam Memorial is on the drive that passes by the Campanile but further up the hill to the west.

If 1% of Lawrence regards the Crossing as a landmark, then that is a pretty large number of people. It obviously is not part of your culture. Your association of frats and the Crossing shows that.

Ask students from the last 20 years where the crossing is. They will know.

My previous apology does not apply to you. You can just STFU dick.

Hawk007 11 years, 11 months ago

Sasquatch, you didn't get out much in college did you?

space_rabbit_kerosene 11 years, 11 months ago

A lot of students know where Joe's Donuts and Burger king is...Does that make them landmarks too?

livn4it 11 years, 11 months ago

What is everybody's deal??? I think this article was supposed to get the public opinion about a building/bar that has been around for sometime. No matter what side you are on, I don't think there is any argument about the fact that there is history there, and it is the last bar with a view of campus. I just think that it is sad to see a building that could very easily be remodeled and made to look new, but keep it's original charm be torn down. Some things are great new, but I have to say in Oread, it is much better old. And the city has made it that way on purpose. And by the way....Joe's Donuts and BK didn't ever have WW II soldiers stopping by for a drink after they just got back from fighting in Europe. Say what you want but the place has been around forever and it has some importance. I just think the owner should be sensitive to the area and try for something that keeps it in tact while improving the area. Get a petition going, maybe the owner is open to suggestions....Good Luck to all!!

usaschools 11 years, 11 months ago

So you are in your upper twenties and all grown up now! No wonder you don't know what the heck you are talking about. I spent plenty of time at the crossing and still graduated twice! You never made a point about "what type of people" consider it a landmark, but you have clearly pointed out that you are too young to even comment on the Crossing, since it's heyday was before your time. If you think it's "just a bar," then clearly you missed out on the good times.

fletch 11 years, 11 months ago

Let's remember that the Crossing also played a big role in the civil rights events of the 60s and 70s. The building itself has a lot of history to it outside of just drinks and good times.

moveforward 11 years, 11 months ago


You still buying that hgih school mentality? 3.2 by volume or 5% by weight - it is the same thing. The only thing you can't do in the grocery or at the crossing is buy liquor or malt liquor.

moveforward 11 years, 11 months ago

The crossing has been a great place to sit and drink a beer while watching... uhm, the college traffic. I used to live across the street and it has a legacy orth preserving.

The university has long sought to rid the campus of watering holes... if the tear it down and rebuild, will the beer licence be grandfathered? My worry is that the university will use its might to nix the beer.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 11 months ago

I think the equation is 3.2% by weight equals about 4.0% by volume, since alcohol is not as dense as water.

livn4it 11 years, 11 months ago

the zoning of the building doesn't allow for a bar. Right now it is a grandfathered, non-conforming use. If the building goes away so does the license. No more bar that views campus.

usaschools 11 years, 11 months ago

Sasquatch, My bad, I apologize. I am having a bad day (which is no excuse for being an ass*$#) and I got too cranky and overreacted. My remarks were out of line. Sorry.


bert 11 years, 11 months ago

well, i had to make sure i was logged on. sorry. the rock chalk cafe has quite a history. things change, but the destruction of that place will be a loss. underneath that disgusting wodden ship business, the orginal stucco building is still there. the bar was ruined in about 1973.
virgil cooper was one of the very best men whoever lived. he was a mentor to so many of us. he had such a great laugh. died in 1993.
he bought the place in 1952 and he and peggy lived in the house behind. i lived there, too, later. if you weren't there, you just wouldn't believe the stories. or maybe you could. dudley was the bar dog. oldest on site location in lawrence, if i am correct. and, if not, who cares?

davisnin 11 years, 11 months ago

It sounds like this guy wants to build a strip mall. Yay, a new place for a Starbucks! Finally west Lawrence is making significant inroads into Oread!! I am constantly amazed how some people in this town are so adamant that Lawrence needs so-called progress. New highways, second down towns, luxury town homes, the harshest bans (of one sort or another) in the nation. They have those in Overland Park, along with the jobs people bitch about commuting to. Go there, its everything you imagine Lawrence can one day become. If you didn't go to the Crossing, you won't go to this new 'improvement', but the people who remember it will have lost it forever. You have no reason to champion its destruction.

neverwrong 11 years, 11 months ago

I fear we have just lost the last bar "on" campus. Next in line for destruction will be the Wheel and Jayhawk. Going to college must be really lame these days.

Kelly Powell 11 years, 11 months ago

And who mourned the passing of the sanctuary?

LTownKU 11 years, 11 months ago

If anyone would like to sign the "Save The Crossing Petition" it is at the website below:

mikeditka 11 years, 11 months ago

ill take 10 years of 1st round losses for the basketball team to keep the CROSSING open!!!!!!

-Mike Ditka

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