Archive for Monday, November 20, 2006

Let market rule

November 20, 2006


To the editor:

I am perplexed and disappointed at the latest attempt to control retail development by this "no growth" faction of the Lawrence City Commission. This group, by a 3-2 vote, decided to defer the approval of a proposed shopping center on the northeast corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway.

This project had already been approved by a 9-1 vote by the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission. Property owners and developers were ready to begin construction, and many proposed tenants were committed to opening new retail businesses and offices there.

Normally, if property is properly zoned and tenants conform to building codes, usage codes and accepted business practices, they can open for business, while depending upon their potential customers to choose them often enough to sustain their cash-flow requirements.

I have personally owned and operated more than 150 retail businesses in 14 states, plus Canada and Mexico, and at no time was this "protectionist" attitude ever encountered.

Our capitalistic system assumes developers and entrepreneurs are willing to risk their assets to open or expand businesses. If they are willing to proceed with this project, why would politicians have veto power over what should have been strictly a business decision?

We deserve to have a continuing choice of new, innovative products, which the proposed merchants were prepared to risk their time and money to furnish us choices in our purchases.

Let the free market rule, not Big Brother.

Richard M. Hassur,



just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 7 months ago

Actually, it's the "market" that led to this decision. Lawrence is currently saturated with retail developments, so the addition of this development really isn't because the "market" demands it.

If it is allowed to go forward, there is a very good chance that it will lead to the closure of retail stores elsewhere in the city. This will lead to even more empty storefronts than we already have, potentially leading to blight that is a very expensive problem for a city to deal with.

Maybe these developers are willing to risk that it is their development that fails because of the lack of sufficient retail demand in Lawrence, but the majority on the city commission has decided that since the city's taxpayers will eventually have to pay for blight wherever it happens, they have at least temporarily tabled approval of this new development.

Whether that is appropriate or not is debatable, but the commission is, in fact, paying closer attention to market demands than these developers are.

Jamesaust 11 years, 7 months ago

"Whether that is appropriate or not is debatable, but the commission is, in fact, paying closer attention to market demands than these developers are."

By what method would a bunch of hippies manage to channel the demands of the market? ESP or magic mushrooms? In fact, this is a decision already made in the developers favor that is now being welched on. The developers have delivered on 100% of the City's demands. Yet, the Commission has disregarded the opinions of all involved - including their own tax-payer-financed consultant who gave the "wrong" answer.

In fact, they're as clueless as Bozo. Indeed, one of them has an overwhelming financial interest in preventing economic competition to their own local business and ethically shouldn't be casting any vote on such issues. In Washington or Topeka, we'd call that an obvious conflict of interest, a/k/a, corruption and toss the bums out. In Lawrence, it masquerades as haughty, disinterested wisdom.

BTW - what is this Commission's bias against Northwest Lawrence. Again and again, people write in to the LJW complaining about how distant retail options are within the city but again and again the Commission looks down its nose one Northwest Lawrence development after another.

The voters just got done say "Enough!" to corrupt politicans. They're going to have to say it again this spring locally. The power of City government does not exist to line the pockets of City officials and zoning powers do not exist to allow officials to pay off their supporters with favors. Its not the City's business to pick "winners" and "losers" but it is the VOTERS' business to pick "winners" and "losers" at the polls!

Vote out the "do nothing" Commissioners.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 7 months ago

Just because speculators purchase property does not guarantee that construction will be allowed for it is NOT the duty of the taxpayer or local government to maximize profits for speculators. Speculating=gambling. Land speculators know these things.

New retail is suppose to create NEW ADDITIONAL revenue and NEW ADDITIONAL employment for a community NOT merely spread current retail dollars to the point where nothing NEW or ADDITIONAL is realized. Certainly it is not to replace existing retail for nothing is gained. Otherwise taxpayers realize TAX INCREASES to cover the cost of additional demand on community services.

Specific projects should be accompanied with independent Retail Impact Studies,Economic Impact studies,Traffic Impact Studies etc etc.

12345 11 years, 7 months ago

It seems that Walmart and others who want to open new businesses in Lawrence should be given incentive to use the existing Tanger "Outlet Mall." North Lawrence actually needs a source for groceries and sundries. Why build another shopping area off the turnpike if the first one has yet to live up to it's potential?

I live in NW Lawrence and can, within 5 to 10 minutes, access 3 different grocery stores, Westlake Hardware, Walgreen's, and Dollar General. And if I truly need to visit the four corners of hell (31st and Iowa) it takes less than 15 minutes to get there.

I remember when Jack Graham plowed up the last virgin prairie land in the county so that it could be developed, and now it looks like his insensitivity is to be rewarded. That sucks. Yeah, I know he owned it and he had the right, but I wish he could have found it in himself to do something for the greater good of the community instead.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 7 months ago

"By what method would a bunch of hippies manage to channel the demands of the market?"

Which bunch of hippies are you referring to?

The fact is that the three commissioners who took this vote are as well educated, and probably better educated, than the developers who are so certain that this new development is required by the "market."

Their concern is based on the fact that for several years the rate of growth in retail has been more than double the rate of growth in the city's population, and the rather large number of empty retail locations around town clearly show the result of that imbalance.

That said, I'm not sure that a city government has the tools at its disposal to do much about this problem other than limiting the amount of property with retail zoning. I think about all they can do now is let this development go forward, and clean up after the developers' mess (the almost certain blight that will result) somewhere down the line.

But by this time, we're getting pretty used to cleaning up after developers, although there are a lot of clueless posters on this forum who will gleefully blame this commission for the blight that will almost certainly result from the actions of these development "free marketeers."

Wallabe 11 years, 7 months ago

Personally, I don't think that retail is growing at an uncontrollable rate, I think it is the type of retailers that are doing business that represents the problem. If Lawrence wishes to stand out then lets be more distinct in what we demand. For God's sake people, lets be more creative with the retail space that is available for development. Why can't we have something like the Legends in Kansas City.

Wallabe 11 years, 7 months ago

Bottom line is that we need to start providing and experience and not just places to sell things at! If Lawrence isn't anymore creative than apartments and bland retail space then I will be really disappointed.

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