Archive for Thursday, September 7, 2006

Cautionary tale?

September 7, 2006


To the editor:

I am referring to the Sept. 2 Saturday Column concerning "Strengthening downtown is more vital than 'protecting' it."

The writer has a very good point. I am from Independence, Mo. In 1951, when I moved there, we had a drugstore on every corner, Jones Store, JC Penney's, Emery Byrd's, Kneopker's, Duvall's, several shoe stores and several clothing stores. You could buy anything you needed. The thinking in Independence was to not grow and not let any industry in that might dirty what they had.

The result was a bedroom community that, therefore, did not have the tax base it needed to support the infrastructure.

In the late '50s the Blue Ridge Mall came. People went to the mall because there were not parking meters. Instead of removing them on the Independence square, they raised the price of the meter. That really chased everyone to the mall. Now, most businesses are gone and they have empty storefronts. It is a sad demise for such a nice town.

Towns are like ponds. They need fresh water or they stagnate and die.

We need a new kind of thinking in this lovely community.

Dana Prijatel,



Richard Heckler 11 years, 4 months ago

Parking meters chased consumers out? Gasoline is and always has been more expensive than parking meters. in the 50's pennies bought time on parking meter.

Is Blue Ridge Mall still alive? Malls die sooner or later with few exceptions such as Oak Park Mall. Dead malls leave behind big empty spaces which are difficult to resell and no longer produce sales tax revenue or employment.

I sometimes wonder if some people moved here to live or to shop. Why did they move to Lawrence and leave all those shopping wonders behind? Surely probable new residents noticed there was not a shopping center at each major intersection as we did. That was a significant beauty of Lawrence in our eyes which we determined would not be an inconvenience but rather something to behold.

Blue Ridge Mall killed their downtown business district and left behind buildings which are NOT providing sales tax revenue or jobs. This kind of thinking does not seem like a worthwhile venture. Actually a new kind of thinking is realizing that small communities cannot support tons and tons of retail for there are only so many retail dollars on the Lawrence planet. Last night part of a discussion was about many vacancies aka turnovers in the west Lawrence(6th and Wakarusa) retail strip malls.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 4 months ago

TIF Commission endorses Blue Ridge Mall plan Kansas City Business Journal - October 14, 2004

The Kansas City Tax Increment Financing Commission on Wednesday recommended the diversion of $25 million in property, sales and earnings taxes to help finance the $88.2 million redevelopment of struggling Blue Ridge Mall.

The mall's owner, MBS Mall Investor-98 LLC, said in June that it intended to demolish the present indoor mall and redevelop the 63-acre site with a new Wal-Mart Supercenter and two other anchors yet to be signed.

Andi Udris, CEO of the Economic Development Corp. of Kansas City and executive director of the TIF Commission, said Thursday that the 600,000 square feet of new retail proposed by the mall owners won't happen without TIF.

Kansas City TIF projects, which allow taxes to be diverted for construction costs that provide public benefits, must also be approved by the Kansas City Council, which is expected to take up the Blue Ridge Mall issue within two weeks.

Union representatives spoke against TIF for the project, calling it a subsidy for Wal-Mart. But Udris said Wal-Mart and other retail tenants will pay full taxes. The diversion of part of those taxes will reduce redevelopment costs for the mall owners, he said, but that savings is needed to put them on a level playing field.

"Normal suburban developers do not incur costs from having to demolish existing parking structures and buildings," Udris said.

The Blue Ridge Mall, which opened in 1958 as one of the area's first shopping centers, has suffered from increased vacancies amid mounting competition from newer malls.

Such a project can be declared blighted and thus eligible for TIF, Udris said, if it is deemed economically obsolete, and the Blue Ridge Mall is.

"The tenants and shoppers have voted with their feet," he said, noting that the mall was 80 percent vacant.

TIF Commission Chairman Peter Yelorda said full property taxes still will be collected from the mall. But the city has lost significant earnings and sales tax revenue as mall traffic has shifted to projects in Independence, Lee's Summit and Overland Park, he said.

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