The time for fantazising is over. The time for decisions begins today.
After a two-year process of outlining the hopes and dreams for an expanded Lawrence Public Library - and a week after local developers submitted proposals which included residential and commercial developments that would reshape downtown - city officials this morning will start evaluating the realities.
All the choices now on the table could cost taxpayers $40 million or more.
"I guess the biggest thing for me is I've got to figure what we can afford," Mayor Mike Amyx said.
Some of Lawrence's more active interest groups are keeping a close eye on the process but aren't ready to render judgments.
"We're very interested" in the library redevelopment, said Rick Marquez, executive director of Downtown Lawrence Inc. "I think we'd like to look at the plans, let our members look at the proposals and think about them a little while, before we decide. Whether we like them, we don't like them, like some better than others - we just need some time."
Gwen Klingenberg, president of the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods, agreed.
"More info is needed by the people I contacted," she said in an e-mail to the Journal-World.
The committee of officials and library leaders that meets today won't recommend a decision; instead, members will list the pros and cons of each proposal before sending the matter on to the City Commission.
"From there it could be a multiweek, multimonth process," said Dave Corliss, the interim city manager.
¢ Massive redevelopment of parts of the 600, 700 and 800 blocks of Vermont and Kentucky streets by the Fritzel family, owners of a local construction company.
¢ A proposal by members of the Simons family - which owns the Journal-World - to place the library along the Kansas River, in the former Riverfront Mall.
¢ Redevelopment by Lawrence developer Doug Compton that would turn much of the east side of the 800 block of New Hampshire Street into a library, retail-residential development and a large public plaza designed by artist Stan Herd.
¢ A plan by developers of the Downtown 2000 project to suspend a multistory library above a section of New Hampshire Street near Ninth Street.
¢ Expansion of the existing library, at Seventh and Vermont streets, into the building's current parking lot - parking would go below-ground. This is the only proposal with no additional commercial or residential development.
Any of the first four options, Amyx said, would amount to one of the largest downtown redevelopment projects in recent Lawrence history.
"This would probably be the biggest that I've seen," he said.
But those proposals could be whittled down, he said.
"When we started out, we were talking about a library," he said. "Then we did an (request for proposals) and started talking about more development. It's grown bigger than I thought."
The evaluation group meets from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. today at City Hall.
Here are some of the accomplishments of the four development groups competing to build a new, expanded library - and redevelop part of downtown. More details can be found at www.lawrenceks.org/currenttopics/library/
¢ 9-10 LC is led by Lawrence developer Jeff Shmalberg, and includes Bob and Martin Moore. Previous projects - individually and collectively - include construction of the downtown parking garage in the 900 block of New Hampshire; Berkeley Towers, the mixed-use building in the 1000 block of New Hampshire that is home to Lawrence Municipal Court; the DCCCA Center Headquarters in the 3300 block of Clinton Parkway; and the Independence Inc. Headquarters in the 2000 block of Haskell Avenue. ¢ Gene Fritzel Construction Co. is responsible, most recently, for the redevelopment of the historic Eldridge Hotel in the 700 block of Massachusetts Street. The company was also the force behind the redevelopment of the west side of the 600 block of Massachusetts Street, where Starbucks, American Eagle Outfitters and other national chains reside. The company also restored Cedar Crest, the governor's mansion in Topeka. ¢ 800 New Hampshire LLC is led by Lawrence developers Doug Compton, Bill Newsome and Terry Sutcliffe. Compton and Newsome already plan for a new Wal-Mart on their property on the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive; Compton's First Management has built and managed a number of apartment houses throughout Lawrence, and he and former Kansas University basketball coach Larry Brown have purchased a number of downtown properties in recent years. ¢ Riverfront Development LLC is led by the Simons family, owner of the Journal-World, and includes Lawrence contractor Bo Harris. The Simons family redeveloped the former Riverfront Mall into the current home of the Springhill Suites hotel; they also refashioned the historic post office at Seventh and New Hampshire streets into the News Center, which is home to the Journal-World, 6News and World Online news operations. Harris is best known, most recently, for his Hobbs Taylor Lofts, the luxury condominiums in the 700 block of New Hampshire.
More about the proposals
- Don't shelve current site yet, library director says (05-10-06)
- 6News video: Patrons discuss library proposals (05-09-06)
- Library expansion timeline
- Library plans unveiled (05-09-06)
- Poll: Which proposal for a new downtown library do you prefer?
- 6News video: City Commissioners discuss new site for library expansion
- "A New Direction" at 9th & New Hampshire Street (.pdf)
- "Town Square" at 800 New Hampshire Street (.pdf)
- "Eldrige Redevelopment District" at 600 Vermont (.pdf)
- "Riverfront Library" on Sixth Street (.pdf)
- City keeps Carnegie control (05-03-06)
- Commission weighing plans for library expansion (04-22-06)