Archive for Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Library rebuilding little cheaper than other proposals

Expansion at current site would cost $50M

May 16, 2006


So, you say, you just want a relatively simple library expansion at the current site.

That option wouldn't be much - if any - cheaper than plans put forth by four private developers, who each have proposed an entirely new library at another site that will spur adjacent retail and residential development.

That's what members of a city-appointed team evaluating the various expansion proposals were told Monday.

Rebuilding a library on the existing site at Seventh and Vermont streets would cost about $50 million, they were told. Each of the other plans would call for public spending ranging from $50 million to $75 million while promising to create varying degrees of new revenue for the city.

But the good news about the library-only plan at the current site, architects said, is that they were confident a "destination library" could be built without requiring the Lawrence Senior Center or Lawrence Fire Station No. 1 to move.

"It's a viable site," said Steve Clark, an architect with Gould Evans who was hired by the city to evaluate the property. "It could be a very viable option depending on what the city wants to do."

The evaluating team heard from Clark and representatives of each of the four private development firms, who made presentations about what they envisioned for a downtown library. At the end of the meeting, leaders insisted all the proposals were still in the running.

"Each one of these proposals really represents an opportunity for us to invest in downtown," said City Commissioner Sue Hack, who is on the evaluation committee. "They're all exciting. The tough part will be choosing one."

The four proposals from private developers include:

 This shows another option for rebuilding Lawrence Public Library.  Kentucky Street is on the right with the downtown skyline in the background.

This shows another option for rebuilding Lawrence Public Library. Kentucky Street is on the right with the downtown skyline in the background.

¢ a plan by the Fritzel family to redevelop a large portion of Vermont Street to accommodate a new library and residential and retail development;

¢ a plan by members of the Simons family, which owns the Journal-World, to put the library in the former Riverfront Mall and add hotel, office and residential space;

¢ a plan by Doug Compton and other developers to build the library and a new hotel northeast of Ninth and New Hampshire streets;

¢ and a plan by Jeff Shmalberg and other developers to build the library and condominiums immediately south of Ninth and New Hampshire streets; a portion of the building would be suspended over New Hampshire Street.

Parking challenges

Clark's analysis of the existing library site confirmed what library leaders have long thought about the location: Finding enough parking spaces is difficult.

Clark's analysis of the site showed it could accommodate 260 parking spaces. But that's fewer than the 400 spaces library leaders have said is desirable. It's also only 140 spaces more than currently exist for the library.

Another option would allow 460 spaces on the property but require multiple levels of below-ground parking. Clark said that option might require construction crews to dig so deep that they encounter groundwater.

A proposal to rebuild a library at the existing Seventh and Vermont streets location would cost about $50 million. The rendering above, which looks to the north along Kentucky Street, shows one proposed concept.

A proposal to rebuild a library at the existing Seventh and Vermont streets location would cost about $50 million. The rendering above, which looks to the north along Kentucky Street, shows one proposed concept.

"At that point, you might be digging a swimming pool," Clark said.

If city commissioners decide to consider the existing site, they'll need to review the parking situation carefully, said City Commissioner David Schauner, also a member of the evaluation committee.

"I would probably like to have more parking than that," Schauner said. "I think the northern part of downtown will need more parking."

But Schauner said he wasn't willing to scratch the current site from the list of possibilities.

"It is not a deal-killer for me yet," he said.

Cost comparisons

Clark provided three cost estimates for rebuilding the library at the current site. The first would involve remodeling the existing building and building a two-story addition with below-ground parking just south of the building on the library's current parking lot. That option, which includes 260 parking spaces, would cost $47.5 million.

Option two would involve demolishing the current library and building a new one with below-ground parking. That option - also with 260 parking places - would cost $48.3 million.

The final option would be the same as option two but would include an additional 200 parking spaces for a total cost of $52.5 million.

All the options for the existing site would produce a library that is about 135,000 to 140,000 square feet and require construction to be done in phases so the library could remain open throughout.

At least two of the private projects come in with public costs similar or less than those estimated for a solely public expansion of the existing site.

The Compton project in the 800 block of New Hampshire Street would require about $49 million in public funding, though developers estimate the project would produce $10 million in new government revenue to offset some of those costs. It would provide 570 parking spaces and a 130,000-square-foot library.

The Shmalberg project in the 900 block of New Hampshire has estimates ranging from about $47 million to $50 million, depending on whether the city wants to add 275 or 400 parking spaces to the block, in addition to the existing 500-space parking garage there. Developers estimate the project, which would include a 127,000-square-foot library, would generate a little more than $5 million in new revenue to offset the public costs.

The Simons proposal along the Kansas River would require about $75 million in public financing but is estimated to generate $25 million in new revenue. The project would provide 838 parking spaces and a library of 140,000 square feet.

The Fritzel project would require at least $75 million in public money, but developers estimate the project would generate $70 million in new tax money over 20 years. The project - over a 10-year period - would add nearly 1,864 parking spaces to the area. The library would be 126,000 square feet.

Those cost comparisons left some library leaders wondering about how much value the community would get by building on the existing site.

"I'm overwhelmed. I think all the plans were really quite ambitious," said John Nalbandian, a library board member and former city commissioner. "I think my least favorite is building on the existing site. I think it costs too much money for what we get."

But Clark said the site had some natural advantages: People already use the location for library services, it is adjacent to Watson Park and it is part of a larger public service area that includes the senior center and the outdoor aquatic center.

"The site can work well," Clark said. "It basically comes down to the City Commission deciding how it wants to address parking and whether it wants the library to be a direct catalyst for additional downtown development."

- 6News reporter Laura McHugh contributed to this report.


Richard Heckler 11 years, 11 months ago

We don't take homes away for a new library. There is vacant space at 9th and New Hampshire that would require no money to be spent on demolition,relocating no business or homeowner and a parking garage that has never been used to its capacity sitting across the street.

A library as the only tenant in a building seems most practical.

Kelly Powell 11 years, 11 months ago

I'm no engineer , but even I could tell you what would happen if you tried to dig an underground parking lot in those locations.....The clue was THE FREAKIN KANSAS RIVER NOT1/4 A MILE AWAY! how did it jump from 40 to 75 mil?

Katie Van Blaricum 11 years, 11 months ago

yeah, I thought the 4 new proposals capped out at 40-50 million the other day. Now they're 75??

KsTwister 11 years, 11 months ago

Since when is a library a revenue generating business? This is no cash cow, they invest their money in new books and items for the library. OMG, its the citizens who are the suckers with the commission in your pockets. I highly doubt this would pass on a ballot. $50 million---are you stupid!!!!! It would be bigger than Bartel Hall. Bill Gates is building a computer science building that costs the same and it is huge.

paladin 11 years, 11 months ago

These proposals are much less about a library and much more about publicly funded, upscale development. Wealth for a few at the cost of the many. The library is being used as a device. The objective seems not to be the practical planning and construction of a functional library, for use by the people, but the beginning of the creation of a Byzantium on the Kaw for the glory and benefit of the Kings of the city. Paid for be the commonfolk. Isn't that, historically, the way its always been? Deceit, manipulation, and exploitation of the little people by the powerful. Contemporary American is no different from any other civilization, throughout time. Greed and lust for wealth and power and subsequent moral corruption, usurping the common interests of a subservient population . The only difference is, this population can do something about it, if it chooses to. But, first it must be aware of what is really going on. Then, it must act.

lunacydetector 11 years, 11 months ago

when, oh when will this lunacy stop? come on. so what if there will be 150 computer terminals? just who doesn't own a computer these days anyway?

is our commission trying to get in the developers' good graces, since they have shunned them for the past 4+ years? is this library based on a guilt trip?

with the technological advances these days, a book based library will be obsolete in 10 years, if it isn't already. are people from other towns going to be using OUR library (if this is what they refer to as a 'destination library')? - i'd like to see the proof if people from other towns will be using our library.

it's only OUR money. put it to a public vote with the option to vote for 'none of the above.'

how many libraries does KU have anyway? any kansas resident can use those libraries already.

cowboy 11 years, 11 months ago

Dole Center 7.5 million bid Free State High School 25 million bid Library priceless

What a potential scam this whole process is. Whatever happened to having an approved needs plan , construction specs and formal RFP's. Why not just hand out some blank checks.

Rhoen 11 years, 11 months ago

There are quite a few large buildings sitting empty ... the old Furr's Cafeteria, for example. The Tanger Outlet Mall, for another example...

Of course, as many others have noted, this is NOT about expanding a useful public facility; it is NOT about the best use of resources; it is NOT about performing as a functioning and sane community to achieve a goal that will benefit the majority ...

It IS about more profit for the profiteers.

It IS about the few acquiring EVEN MORE than they have already accumulated at the expense of the many.

It IS about YET ANOTHER back-room, done-deal being foisted off on the passive, sheep-like "host organism" that is the body politic of Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas.

This scheme, too, will fly very high, encountering little if any opposition from the very flexible (having SO consistently bent SO far over) People of Lawrence ...

gaiapapaya 11 years, 11 months ago

There are children in this town whose families cannot afford computers. As state testing now takes place on computers, these kids are at a huge disadvantage when they take their tests. The computers are unfamiliar and the kids have problems navagating the tool bars. The library needs to have computers for people without computers.

And books are not going to disappear. I don't want to curl up with my laptop and a mug of cocoa or coffee and read a good book. I'd imagine many people feel the same. When I'm into a good book, I can stay up all night reading. I'd never stare at a computer that long. It makes my eyes sore. The library needs books and a place to house them.

I like the library next to the pool, but parking for the library is just like the rest of downtown. I never expect to park really close to where I'm going, I just feel lucky if I get a space near my destination. We ride bikes most of the summer to avoid the parking situation at the pool/library area. It's always rock-star parking with bikes. Even if you live farther away, you can put your bike on the bus and it's still cheaper than the parking meter.

Jamesaust 11 years, 11 months ago

At what point does the City even consider that building a new library in the most congested, high-priced spot in Lawrence is cost-prohibitive?

It has been clear from Day One that no other possibility would be entertained by the powers-that-be (no group of ordinary citizens made this decision). Thus, all the potential outcomes were preordained as 'boondoggles'.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 11 months ago

How about taking over the current post office, and expanding into some or all of that space, with an elevated "bridge" connecting the two buildings? A new, smaller retail PO could also be included in that facility.

commonsense 11 years, 11 months ago

Recently a group I belong to sat down with an architecture firm to discuss a new building. The building will be approximately 58,000 sq. feet. The building will be modern, environmental friendly, tech savvy, and very attractive. This project was estimated between $7.5 and $10 million w/ a new parking lot. And this space is 43 % the size of the proposed 135,000 sq. ft. library. If we can build for $10m, then the city can build something twice as large and have parking for less than 30M.

commonsense 11 years, 11 months ago


Nothing to do with a library. Just making an analogy based on what we went through with our bldg. and trying to compare costs.

i_have_only_valid_opinions 11 years, 11 months ago

The more I think about this topic, the more I think the satellite location idea is a valid option. Spend a few million to renovate the current building, maybe add a floor, and lease some outside locations as options for people around town. You can keep most of IT related stuff at the main branch. Just offer Internet at the satellites. I really can't understand why any option, other than renovating the current building and adding parking, is being considered (other than to line the pockets of the contractors). I wonder who is the one taking the kickbacks from the contractors and pushing this through. I bet their kickbacks are % based!

If the purpose of this project is to better serve the people, then let's provide convenient options for them by adding branches. I'm not supportive of building a big fancy library just to brag that we have it. Not worth it.

KsTwister 11 years, 11 months ago

With the water runoff problems Lawrence already has it is absolutely stupid for anyone to suggest an underground parking lot. Lawrence as Dumb as it gets. Throw the bums out,there is no common sense in City Hall. Tanger mall was your last folly, hit the road.

Redzilla 11 years, 11 months ago

Wow...the whole thing is starting to remind me of The Simpson's Monorail episode. Every idea is bigger, more elaborate and more expensive than the last. Worst of all, as Marion observes, there are a dozen shill men lurking behind all the new developments, waiting to pocket a bunch of unearned money.

i_have_only_valid_opinions 11 years, 11 months ago

Renovations vs. New Development

Work for a living and pay taxes like everyone vs. Charge too much and give part of it back to the person who let you charge too much.

It's so obvious that this is all about politics and not about what's best for Lawrence. Does "liberal" in politics mean that we are overly wasteful of our tax dollars? I haven't been in Lawrence long enough to know the ins and outs of the political maze, but I'm learning little by little.

Sigmund 11 years, 11 months ago

Total Cost: $75,000,000. Total Population: 80100. Percent Population over 18: 81.43% Population Over 18: 71957. Cost per 18+ year old: $1,042.

I can buy alot of books for that. Students who need computers can use the ones at school, remember the school bond issue last election included new money for technology and computers? This cost does not include interest on the debt, salaries for additional staff, cost overruns, or the cost of new library materials.

If we need to increase the capacity of the current library, I am for a branch libraries that can accomodate and adapt to neighborhood needs. Decentralization brings the library closer to users. If we have a lack of parking downtown, why increase traffic and parking downtown by putting a huge library there? Just so we can build another parking garage???

Lawrence is being told they need a library but it seems like this project is being designed more to benefit developers and property owners downtown rather than the citizens who will be asked to pay for it.

bmw 11 years, 11 months ago

It makes sence to tie the new library into a larger developement because libraries don't expand the tax base but new buisiness and new residents and more people staying in hotels downtown will generate more revenue for the city and add to the economy of Lawrence, not to mention all the work a big project like this would give people. A development like the one the Fritzel's propose would be tremendous for Lawrence!

i_have_only_valid_opinions 11 years, 11 months ago


We are talking local politics and tax dollars. I'm not talking about the war. And I'm not comparing liberals and conservatives. I was just making a point that Lawrence claims to be liberal in most respects, so I was joking about the tax dollars.

The "private sector" you mention includes all people. It is a portion of the sector doing the exploitation. But in the end it is the fault of our local politicians. I don't buy it that the politicians (i.e. the city) are being taken advantage of or being exploited. How can you say not to politicize it too much? They are the ones considering the proposals, and they will ultimately be the ones to decide. And then they will ultimately be the ones to reap the benefits that we pay for. It's ALL politics and politicians. If not, what are you claiming it is then?

i_have_only_valid_opinions 11 years, 11 months ago


And the city isn't being naive...they are knowingly going along with it.

Sigmund 11 years, 11 months ago

For $75,000,000 you could buy every man, women and child in Lawrence a great computer! You could buy every student who doesn't have access to a computer for a heck of a lot less! I doubt sincerely that the percent of students without access to a computer necessary to complete their schoolwork numbers anywhere close to 1%.

Are there huge lines at the current library of students just waiting to use the computers to do homework? No, there is not. A $75,000,000 solution for a problem that doesn't really exist. Don't you have any other arguement for this library than "Think of the childrens"? I stopped falling for that liberal bromide a decade ago.

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

I wish some "developer" would come up with a proposal to build a state of the art library somewhere other than downtown, in a place that would allow for ample above-ground parking, and that wouldn't require the destruction of existing buildings. I'd like to see that cost estimate thrown into the mix. If it came in way under the current proposals, what would the Commissioners do?

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

What is the cost estimate for the new Walmart?

KsTwister 11 years, 11 months ago

Will we need a bigger convention center because a library was built? hahahahahahahahaha ,Visitors will stay and spend because of a library? hahahahahahaha WHAT ARE YOU THINKING??

Sigmund 11 years, 11 months ago

New Library: $75,000,000 Cost to future taxpayers: $75,000,000 + interest Appealling to your "progressive" base, making friends with wealthy developers, your name on a commerative plaque: Priceless

girly 11 years, 11 months ago

I would like the library to be located somewhere other than downtown, I agree, it's too congested and I think more people (besides the homeless) would use it if it were in a more convenient location. Last time I went in there the homeless people smelled so bad I had to leave. It was really bad!

vivid_scene 11 years, 11 months ago

Here is a definition of a library: A place in which literary and artistic materials, such as books, periodicals, newspapers, pamphlets, prints, records, and tapes, are kept for reading, reference, or lending.

I don't see within that definition any mention of the grandiose plans/needs described by the various development proposals...I would think that a two-story box with a roof would more than meet library requirements. Such a development would likely cost less than $75 million...although, by the time the city, library administration and developers finish the box plan, modifying it so that would meet unique and newly identified community "needs" while also meeting ever-escalating industry standards, it would likely be similarly priced to current proposals.

Perhaps a future citywide vote on the issue could ask how much city residents are willing to pay for a library, specified in increments of $10 million? This would identify a much needed price ceiling and would inevitably result in a realistic, financially prudent, voter- approved library facility.

Rationalanimal 11 years, 11 months ago

Tony, Tony, Tony, and you were giving me such a hard time the other day about my insisting the cost was going to keep escalating. If you recall, we were discussing the overnight jump from 30 million to 40 million. Hate to say, but I told you so. This thing will be 80 - 100 million by the time this dogmatic ideological spend happy commission is done. 50 million for a library is utter government waste. When a family needs a new car, they don't go buy a Lexus when their on a Camry budget. Especially when the house and yard are in desparate need of repair. The infrastructure of Lawrence is in shambles, i.e. roads, sewers, and the bozo commissioners are fixated on ramming a 50 million dollar library down our throats. No worries, just wip out the credit card and put it on the bond account. After all, Topeka and JoCo are driving Lexus and Benzes. This is the epitome of government waste resulting from ideological dogmatism.

i_have_only_valid_opinions 11 years, 11 months ago


Let's say "benefits" if you want to get your technical panties in a wad. This has to benefit the politicians in some way otherwise they wouldn't consider irrational and overly expensive proposals even to this initial point. There are no valid arguments for going to this extreme, so the logical jump is that it is a purely political decision. It's called an opinion. A suspicion. If you want to bash someone's opinion because of a lack of evidence, then you better go back through this entire conversation thread and bash everyone. And if you don't agree with me, what do you think is driving this "pure" decision? What is the benefit to Lawrence other than a few more books and computers and a pretty building? Wouldn't it be cheaper to pay staff to keep computer labs open in each of the schools through the evening so kids could do their homework? Wasn't this part of your argument?

I think you are being pretty naive about what is happening, just like you think the city can be naive enough to let contractors scheme them into millions of dollars. Have you not been watching the national news lately? Corruption (and yes, kickbacks) are rampant in all levels fo government.

funkdog1 11 years, 11 months ago

Okay, braniacs. First off, lots of discussion has gone on about a new library for the past year and a half or so. The library has held several open-to-the-public sessions on the matter. The majority of the feedback they received was that people didn't want satellite libraries. They wanted to keep the library downtown.

The architecht consultant put forth a pricetag that was far less than what's being proposed now. (Unfortunately, I can't find the exact figure, but Bruce Flanders would know.)

The commission then asked for plans from developers. It's not the commission whose pushing these new plans. It's the developers. The commission NEVER asked ANYONE to put forth a $75 million plan.

i_have_only_valid_opinions 11 years, 11 months ago


a debate is all about arguing sides and points.

i_have_only_valid_opinions 11 years, 11 months ago

How 'bout the commission start by letting the developers know what the strict budget will be and then take only proposals within those constraints. Why are they letting the developers drive this bus? Just because the developers all submitted such expensive proposals, now we are considering them?

conservative 11 years, 11 months ago

While I don't think that printed books are going to disappear. I do think that there are 3 main reasons to go to a library.

  1. To check out the books and periodicals. This will continue to be a reason.

  2. To use the public computers. This will continue to be a reason, but can be accomplished at many different points instead of a central library, and would be more cost effective and create easier access.

  3. To do research. Research is increasingly being done online and if it is necessary to do it at a library the ones on campus will continue to be superior to the Lawrence library.

I feel that the proposals are way out of line for the needs of a public library in a town the size of Lawrence.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 11 months ago

Maybe it's time to bring in outsiders to present a proposal just to see what numbers surface.

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

If the current library doesn't fulfill the needs of the community, then build a new one somewhere other than downtown. Downtown is too crowded, it is too hard to get to, it is a very inconvenient location for the majority of people.

Causing the taxpayers to spend $75 million to protect the property investments of a few people (yes, there are only a handful of individuals who own the downtown now), is just wrong.

bangaranggerg 11 years, 11 months ago

why don't they redesign the library as one computer- total cost 3,000 dollars. This is a terrible idea, we can't spend as much money on this as the Royals want for their stadium renovations. It's stupid, want more access to books allow Barnes and Noble to put in a store at 6th and Wak.

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

Maybe hiring consultants isn't such a bad idea, after all. Look what we get when we let committees and commissioners do the planning!

Rhoen 11 years, 11 months ago

A good plan was suggested here: Start with a firm budget ceiling and THEN ask for bids.

Note that this article about the projected cost to reconfigure the existing library is built around a lot of "were told" passive-voice statements.

WHO is doing the telling? Aside from the name and place of employment, what are that person's credentials? What is that person's interest in the proposal? What information was that person asked to provide when that person's opinion was soliticited? What information was that person given upon which to base this $50 million projection?

A sane, informed, and ethical "city-appointed team" - IF such a combination of traits could actually exist in a "city-appointed team" in this City - would also solicit bona fide bids and plans for working with the existing building. It would not solely focus on the developers' wish-lists for their new fiscal year.

...Of course, following such a course of action would undoubtedly put too much of a crimp in these developers' plans for their estates, retirements, and vacations.

(And I wonder if any of the developers or their families have actually visited our library to check out a book in the last year? Was any info provided on how well this Gang of Four understands the functions and needs of a LIBRARY facility? Do they appear to realize that the building should serve actual library functions, and not just be an art gallery forum, a cocktail party space or a soiree area for seen-and-be-seen social events that will show up on the photo page of the Saturday paper?)

Another note: the "liberal" - "conservative" dichotomy is once again brazenly mooning the discussion. This baseless, useless side-track cannot possibly further any sort of productive exchange.

That "liberal" - "conservative" gambit pulls anyone who pays any attention to it into the mental weeds so fast that it may actually be a plant on this board by developers to keep people away from discussion of the more salient issues.

princess 11 years, 11 months ago

$50MM plus for this is absurd.

How about we put a measure on the ballot for THE VOTERS to decide on at a fraction of the cost? Let's say $15MM although it could be done with $10MM even.

These funds are then set up as a trust, putting the assets into high yield accounts. Then in cooperation with the School District these funds are dolled out as needed for use for home computers for our students. There is already a system in place that considers a family's economic situation when deciding on reduced or free lunches. Use that same system to determine the reduction rate and/or free rate on the computers as well so as not to further tax the district.

This would greatly reduce the need for further School Bond measures due to increasing technology needs. People can still use the library as it is now and there would be no need to greatly expand it's technology or parking lot.

With the funds set up properly in a trust the interest would help to feed the program for years to come.

I am sure that there are holes with this plan that I am not seeing so feel free to expand. This was just an idea that I had.

Sigmund 11 years, 11 months ago

Branch libary systems work in lots of communitiies. If they don't have a book there is always inter-library or intra-library loans, you can even call ahead to see if or when the book will be available and have it held. The computers, books, magazines are closer to the people who will be more likely to use them.

Collections can be tailored to match the needs of the local neighborhood. More "Martha Stewart Living" in one branch, more "English For Fast Food Workers" at another. A different developer can be chosen for each branch. Further, the branch system balances traffic across the City as opposed to further adding congestion to our precious downtown that we must preserve and protect for a handful of owners.

Whenever I hear proponents of the library bring up Bush, conservatives, the religious right, and the War in Iraq, I get the feeling they have run out of persuasive arguements. Anyway for you amusement (just so Tony88 feels loved).

CONSERVATIVE, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others. (Ambrose Bierce)

POLITICS, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage. (Ambrose Bierce)

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. G. Gordon Liddy

Confrontation 11 years, 11 months ago

The second illustration is interesting. It shows a man wearing blue inside the library staring out the window at a woman in too-tight clothing. Are these women part of the final cost?

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

The Gould Evans drawing shows the "downtown skyline" in the background. Looks like "downtown" is going to have a lot more tall buildings than we have now.

What are the real plans, anyway? What will all of downtown look like by the time this "library" redevelopment and reconstruction plan gets done? What is the real vision for, say, 10 years down the line?

Sigmund 11 years, 11 months ago

Maybe we do need $75,000,000 library. These quotes make for good story-telling but popular myth has falsely attributed them to Churchill.

"If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain." There is no record of anyone hearing Churchill say this. Paul Addison of Edinburgh University makes this comment: "Surely Churchill can't have used the words attributed to him. He'd been a Conservative at 15 and a Liberal at 35!

Confrontation 11 years, 11 months ago

tony88: It wouldn't surprise me if "male needs" were included in this cost.

Rhoen 11 years, 11 months ago

Hey, keep in mind that this is LAWRENCE! Not only the MALES enjoy looking at the sexy ladies in too-tight clothing! Get with the program, will 'ya?

betti81 11 years, 11 months ago

branch libraries rock! i currently reside in a larger city in KS and it has a plethora of branch libraries (which right now they are reassess the locations based on population and projected areas of growth and reassigning some of the branches). it works great. i go the one closest to my house or business and pay a quarter for a book to be moved if I don't want to/can't drive to the other branch. super sweet!

Lawrence needs branches! i love downtown for all that it is and all that it isn't. these proposals seem so over the top. VOTE NO!

Also someone asked about people from other towns using the Lawrence Library, I did in high school often, as did my classmates. I grew up in a small town and went to the LPL for just about every report.

And for the person who said most research has moved online, from a recent student's perspective, this is not entirely true. most teachers limit the number of internet sources for a report/paper and still require the use of hardcopy (books/encyclopedias/etc).

there's my four cents worth. happy day.

i_have_only_valid_opinions 11 years, 11 months ago


you are funny. you suggest that some people's posts are not adult, then you go into an "adult" themed post that has nothing to do with the topic except being a poor attempt at humor.


keep up with your goal of letting everyone know when they get off the subject completely. i think sex is about as far off as one can get from the topic - at least more so than politics!

i_have_only_valid_opinions 11 years, 11 months ago

branch locations does not mean "tiny, ill equipped, non-stocked shelves" branch locations. overland park is a good example of having multiple locations with a very good selection of books, audio/video, childrens activities, computer stations and other resources.

YourItalianPrincess 11 years, 11 months ago

I'm at the library every weekend with my son. I go there to gather materials for the upcoming lesson plans I have here at my home daycare. When we are there I have never noticed it to be overly crowded to the point we need a bigger library somewhere else.

I also talked with someone who works there and she said the library was built in a way if they needed to go up and build an expansion they could.

My biggest complaint would be the parking in the summer. When the pool is open parking for the library is crazy. I do like the post about using the post office area and moving it elsewhere.

It seems like money is being spent around Lawrence like its water.

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

I like IP's idea. Add another floor or two to the existing library, and then turn the pool into a parking lot. Problem solved.

monkeyhawk 11 years, 11 months ago

I was having a smoke and a cocktail with my Kansas City friends yesterday at the great, new "Granite City" restaurant, located in the fabulous area near the racetrack. The subject of this "library" came up. I asked them if we build it, will they come?

They laughed...

I tried to convince them that it was going to be a real destination with all kinds of stuff to make folks from all over the region drive to Lawrence.

They laughed even harder.

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

Monkeyhawk, great story. "Destination library" reminds me of "Science City." That went over really well, didn't it?

monkeyhawk 11 years, 11 months ago



(taken from LJW, May 9, 2006. "Library Plans Unveiled":)

Thomas Fritzel, a member of the family that owns Gene Fritzel Construction, will urge city commissioners to think big. Fritzel said his family's proposal - in addition to giving the city a larger library - would add enough new retail, parking and residential development to allow downtown to compete with the Plaza area in Kansas City and the rapidly developing retail area near the Kansas Speedway.

"Downtown Lawrence needs to refocus and really become a destination point again," Fritzel said. "If the downtown and the city do not unite on a project, market share for downtown will continue to decline."

YourItalianPrincess 11 years, 11 months ago

I never said turn the pool into a parking lot. I said the problem with the pool being so close is that there is never enough parking for the library.

Would there be a problem with relocating the senior center. Maybe building a new senior center next to the art center, making more room for a new parking area for the library and pool combined. Having a new senior center would be wonderful and having it next to the art center would be even better. Its close to downtown and parking is available across the street from the art center.

Having the fire station close to downtown is good, so moving it may not be a good thing. I'm not sure where they could be relocated to keep them close enough to downtown.....anyone have any ideas?

Building up I think would be the best idea. Why spend millions of dollars to build elsewhere when you can expand up using what is already there. There seems to be enough vacant unused buildings all over Lawrence now. If I had the money I would turn the old Food 4 Less into a family fun center. It would be nice to enjoy entertainment in our own city without having to travel elsewhere.

BROWNIE 11 years, 11 months ago

I have read the blogs on this all day and I must comment. Most of you have pinned the bad guy label on the developers, the city, library, etc. One person did correctly mention that this process has been going on for years, not weeks. The library board spent thousands of hours debating the branch libraries, their cost, the impact on the city, downtown, etc. If you wanted to whine about all of this, where were you when they were holding open public forums to discuss these issues? I'm not suggesting you don't deserve to express your opinions, just try and be a little better informed before you pontificate your brilliant ideas. The facts are: 1. The library (after years of deliberating), has decided it needs to be expanded, at one site, and that site needs to be in downtown Lawrence. 2. The library asked that a study be done to determine the feasibility of expanding on site or elsewhere within the confines of downtown. The study was completed and then a request for proposals was sent out to over 50 different developers, citizens, companies, real estate professionals and entrepreneurs. 3. Four proposals, besides the one to keep the library where it is, came back. Why were there so few? There's a lot of risk and the possibility of profit is not huge. There were actually a couple of out of town developers looking at the deal, but it is just too hard to find ground, buy property, get neighborhood alliances in place, and make the deal work and not lose your shirt. The developers who did decide to take a shot at it will have been working on it, spending money on architects, engineers, financial planners and only one of the four will possibly be allowed to take it to the final stage, where it could ultimately die for lack of public support.
4. The developers are not "piggy backing" onto the library for the city's help in making a profit. The scope of this project demands that the city raise the funds needed to pay back the price tag on the library. The private development is not just for grins, it has to be there in order for the whole thing to work. That's why this project is so much harder to accept as just a city library project with no private side involved. There is no property tax collected, no sales tax created by a public entity. The creation of the money to make this thing work must come from the private sector. The bigger the project, the bigger the private sector involvement must be. 5. No one can argue that the price for this thing is not enormous, nor can one argue that this will not be a huge library which we may or may not need. But to say that this is some evil developer driven plot to screw up Lawrence and steal its money is sophomoric. 6.If you don't want a new library, fine. Just don't berate the library and the business people trying to make the thing a reality. They're just trying to deliver a product that they have been told Lawrence, (or the users of the library) want and need.

lunacydetector 11 years, 11 months ago

tony88, from May 16 at 10:29 a.m.

there was an impartial study done recently that completely shoots your study down -that you linked to. in fact, i would like an explanation (not from you, but from your study's author) of how that original biased study was so convoluted when compared to the recent unbiased study done for the city.

paladin 11 years, 11 months ago

The big money developers seen as benevolent and altruistc? Balderdash. A wolf clad in sheepskin so that the little piggies will open the crack of the door just a little bit further, so that he can slip on in and have his way with them.

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

Brownie, if the only people who should be allowed to have input on the future of the library are the ones who use it and who pay attention to notices about meetings and have the time to attend them, then those people should be happy to foot the bill themselves.

I am going to get involved, now, with the intent of putting a halt to this project.

Ward 11 years, 11 months ago

The cost of building at the current site is the most attractive option. Forget the public/private business. Lawrence lacks the necessary density and demand for the scale of a truly beneficial public/private enterprise where TIF monies could make a substantial impact.

I cannot fault the teams for pitching their ideas since they were invited by the city to do so. Like day old catfish waiting for a tomcat. It almost seems the city has played a game of three card monty (is that what its called?) with everyone: 1. Look here. We're building a library. It will cost a lot. 2. Developers, please make proposals for public private library condo hotel meeting riverboat things. This will cost a whole lot. (Can you even see the library?) 3. Now that you're distracted, at the Library site, a new Library can be built, and it will cost a lot. AHA! And look! No private interests!

see them all here

lunacydetector 11 years, 11 months ago

tony88, here is a link i found

Just as a comparison........

click on this link and see what a $42,500,000 building that is 512,593 square feet looks like.

It is 438 feet high.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 11 months ago

How many designers were asked to submit bids on this project? All we need is a library and not a concept that includes an opportunity to impulse shop. There are plenty of eating establishments,coffee shops and general shopping all within walking distance.

BROWNIE 11 years, 11 months ago

What the proposal for the library on site does not include, (at $50,000,000) is the costs to issue the bonds. That will add another $9-10MM to the deal.

The board (and all of you outraged citizens) should be specifically asking that all of the proposals be compared on a level playing field, and show exactly where the costs come in and what the "all in" cost of the project will be.

I think in the end you will discover that the property tax and sales tax produced by the private/public partnership makes the most sense. Otherwise, you are correct, the entire cost of the library will be on the bond and we will pay a big ticket. And in the end, there won't be a better, expanded library, because the public won't support it.

BROWNIE 11 years, 11 months ago

And I might add, to those people who are saying let the 1000 people per day that use the library pay for the library;

If you don't have kids does that mean you don't believe in supporting the schools?

If you live in a brick house, does that mean you wouldn't support the fire department?

Only 11% of the population actually "needs" police protection. Does that mean we shouldn't support them?

The library is a public service. It is there for the public education and enjoyment. We need to support it.

BROWNIE 11 years, 11 months ago

There will be nothing hidden, and the fact that five different groups working on the same thing are coming up with the same numbers tells you something.

You can easily point to other buildings and say, "This is way out of line," but the numbers generated were from national averages for libraries based on price per square foot. Do we need a library that is two HyVee's large? Personally, I don't think so, but that is what the library asked the developers to bid.

Tony88: Yes, the new developments will generate new tax dollars. New loft apartments will generate new property tax. New retail will generate new sales tax. Over the 20 years that the bonds will be issued, these new taxes will "bring down" the cost of the libary by as much as $20MM.

To answer why developers haven't pursued these kinds of developments, frankly, they have. Hobbs Taylor Lofts is a good example. When they brought forth the plans for that, the public smirked and chided. They are sold out. Don't underestimate the drawing power of Downtown Lawrence.

BROWNIE 11 years, 11 months ago

$300/sf for a new library is pretty average. You may have a means guide for cost estimating, but I'm guessing it is for general estimation purposes, and not libraries. I could be wrong.

Do you understand that these private public partnerships are specifically designed for the purpose of raising revenue for the public use? They are Tax Increment Financing bonds, or TIFs. The TIF is designed to take the new private development generated in the area of the new public venue and use the future revenues derived from the sales tax and property tax to pay back the bonds. So if the cost of the new library is $50MM, the bonds pay down the actual cost to the city to maybe $35MM. Yes, still lots of money, but stuff is expensive.

The other thing that people need to remember is, this is a long process. The library told us what they wanted ... in a perfect world. That doesn't mean they will get their 140,000sf library. It means that is what they are shooting for, and that is what was bid. It's very early on here. This library may change into something completely different and more affordable before all is said and done.

BROWNIE 11 years, 11 months ago

I also should add, that the information reported in the Journal World was somewhat misleading. That is why it is important that each group, including the existing site, show exactly what the costs and potential revenues are, so that we can compare appples to apples.

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

Don't underestimate the taxing power of downtown Lawrence. If they want it, they will get it.

Remember the sales tax increase that was levied to pay for the pool and other parks and recs projects? After those bonds were paid off, the sales tax remained in place. Why can't that be used for this new benefit district for downtown property owners?

No matter what you say Brownie, you can't make this look or sound like anything other than it is - it is a huge land and money grab by the city and certain property owners.

BROWNIE 11 years, 11 months ago


I respectfully disagree. The money to be made will be hard fought.

Who is grabbing the land?

I have a preference as to which plan I prefer, but I don't think any of them involve "land grabbing."

BROWNIE 11 years, 11 months ago


Okay. Just take everything you are reading with a lump of salt, because the numbers are not exactly as they have been reported. In some cases, they have shown the numbers with bond costs included, some without, some they have reported with the buy downs in, some they have left that out. The information is not equal to all sides. This will hopefully all come out within the next few weeks, and certainly will be a hot topic on June 8th.

Keep in mind too, that a library in Perry Kansas might cost $100/sf and the new Seattle libary was something like $500/sf. We should be somewhere in between. I think Topeka spent $130MM on theirs.

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

Brownie, you yourself said, "There were actually a couple of out of town developers looking at the deal, but it is just too hard to find ground, buy property, get neighborhood alliances in place, and make the deal work and not lose your shirt. "

If the ground was not available to out of town developers, how is it available to in town developers? Are you stating that you know, for a fact, that no private property will have to be purchased by the city in order for this deal to go through? And that no private property purchased by the city will be converted to use by other private entities?

And, you said, "The scope of this project demands that the city raise the funds needed to pay back the price tag on the library. The private development is not just for grins, it has to be there in order for the whole thing to work. "

If that is the case, then you have just successfully made the argument that the project should not be undertaken.

If the library cannot be expanded downtown without a virtual redevelopment of downtown at taxpayer expense, then it just wasn't meant to happen.

Responsible government would find a workable solution that would not require the destruction and reconstruction of a historic district and millions and millions of dollars of taxpayer money.

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

Brownie wrote: "To answer why developers haven't pursued these kinds of developments, frankly, they have. Hobbs Taylor Lofts is a good example. When they brought forth the plans for that, the public smirked and chided. They are sold out. Don't underestimate the drawing power of Downtown Lawrence."

I wonder why Harris is still paying for that virtual ad "reinvent the way you live" that shows there are several vacant lofts for sale.

BROWNIE 11 years, 11 months ago


I have not checked back on this for a couple of days, so I'm sorry if I seemingly ignored your points.

I understand that this process is frustrating and I don't expect everyone to just lay down and say go ahead and do it. And you make some excellent points about condemnation of existing properties.

Some of the plans do require condemnation of certain properties and that may cause a problem for those plans. There is at least one plan though, that does not require condemnation.

I'm not saying that any of the plans are perfect, but some are more viable than others.

The issue regarding the need for private development as an assistance to this is still one that I stand by. It will effectively bring down the cost of the library and at the same time be a positive investment in Downtown Lawrence. Just because a developer might someday realize a profit from it, doesn't automatically make it a bad idea.

As for Bo Harris's deal, he may have a couple left, but many people thought he would have a hard time selling even half of them. All I'm saying is; you might be surprised how many people are still interested in loft apartments in Downtown Lawrence.

Finally, you said; "If the library cannot be expanded downtown without a virtual redevelopment of downtown at taxpayer expense, then it just wasn't meant to happen."

The taxpayers will not be paying for the private development. They'll just be paying for the part of the library that the private development generated tax dollars cannot cover, which will be less than just redeveloping on the current site with no private invovlement.

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