Let the review begin.
Wal-Mart leaders and local developers submitted plans to City Hall on Thursday that would allow the megaretailer and five other businesses to locate at the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive.
"We want it to be something that the entire city will be pleased with," said Angie Stoner, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman.
The plans give a glimpse at what the Wal-Mart store may look like. As part of the required submittals, the company presented a draft of the architectural design of the store.
Company officials, however, said the design could change dramatically after they receive input from city planners next week. Part of an April court settlement between Wal-Mart and the city required that Wal-Mart submit a plan for the building that keeps with the "highest level of aesthetics."
In addition to Wal-Mart, the plan includes four other buildings. Those are:
¢ A 7,300-square-foot building that could accommodate a restaurant.
¢ An 1,800-square-foot building listed as a coffee shop-type of business.
¢ A 5,000-square-foot building that has no use listed.
¢ A building that is divided into a 4,900-square-foot space and a 2,500-square-foot space.
Bill Newsome, a partner in 6Wak Land Investments, said those buildings would be designed in a similar style as the Wal-Mart.
"This will be a first-class development," Newsome said. "It will send the right message for this intersection. It will send the message that Lawrence is a high-quality place."
The public won't get its first chance to weigh in on the project until August. Planners have a goal of presenting the project to the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission for review at its Aug. 23 meeting. The plans will have to be approved by city commissioners before construction could begin. It is expected to take 12 to 18 months to build the store.
The plans come after Wal-Mart and the city reached an agreement in April to halt a 3-year-old lawsuit on whether the retailer should be allowed to build on the site. The two parties agreed to suspend the lawsuit to give Wal-Mart time to submit plans for a store smaller than the 132,000-square-foot center it was seeking permission from the court to build.
The new store would be 99,985 square feet, which is about half the size of many new Wal-Marts.
Neighbors, though, are concerned that the plan submitted to City Hall is designed to easily accommodate expansion. That's because a large lot directly east of the store is left vacant on the plans.
"It looks like it would be very easy to punch out one of the walls and just expand," said Alan Cowles, president of the West Lawrence Neighborhood Assn., which has been concerned about traffic congestion in the area.
Such an expansion would require a future City Commission to rezone the property, but the April agreement does not preclude a future City Commission from considering an expansion request from Wal-Mart.
The ownership group for the property, though, said that was not the plan for the property. Newsome said the property was zoned for office use, and that had been the zoning for the piece of property well before the Wal-Mart project was proposed.
"There is no agenda for any retail other than what is on this plan," Newsome said. "If a viable (candidate) comes along and wants that lot, we're prepared to move forward on it today."
More about Wal-Mart at 6th and Wakarusa
- Joint statment about Wal-Mart lawsuit
- Wal-Mart back, with bigger request (10-28-06)
- Wal-Mart question up for city approval (10-23-06)
- Wal-Mart proposal hits another roadblock (09-01-06)
- Planning Commission split on proposed Wal-Mart (08-31-06)
- City gateway taking shape (08-19-06)
- Wal-Mart reveals design for Sixth Street location (08-15-06)
- More stories in our Wal-Mart on Wakarusa section Â»