Archive for Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Another shot for Sixth, SLT project

New leaders seem receptive to retail, commercial development

April 17, 2007


Lawrence city commissioners tonight will consider putting out the welcome mat for new shoppers in a big way.

Commissioners at their weekly meeting will consider approving a new shopping district at the northeast corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway.

"It looks like it would be a good gateway to our community," City Commissioner Mike Dever said of the plan that would add about 185,000 square feet of retail space and another 150,000 square feet of office and commercial space.

That hasn't always been the view of city commissioners.

The previous City Commission in November refused to approve the project after three commissioners said they were concerned the city's retail market was becoming overbuilt. They voted to delay the project.

But two of those three no longer are on the commission. Only Commissioner Boog Highberger remains from that trio. He said Monday that he's still concerned the development would overburden the city's retail market.

"I've become more convinced that our retail sector is overbuilt," Highberger said of the nearly six months that have passed since the commission last considered the project.

Highberger said he's seen numbers - but could not quote specific figures - that indicate Lawrence's sales per square foot are below regional averages and its retail square feet per capita are above regional averages.

He said those figures create concern that if new retail areas are allowed, they could hurt existing retail areas, which could lead to some older shopping centers becoming blighted.

But those concerns didn't show up in a report that the city commissioned in 2005. That report cited statistics that indicated Lawrence's retail vacancy rates were below average, and that the community was losing significant amounts of sales tax dollars to other communities.

Dever said he thinks this development - coupled with about 190,000 square feet of already-approved retail space on the southeast corner of Sixth Street and the trafficway - would serve as a new retail draw for Lawrence.

"I think it is going to add an opportunity for people outside of Lawrence to come shop from all the outlying areas," Dever said. "I think we're going to attract people to come to Lawrence who otherwise would be going to Topeka. That's what we need to do to shore up our sales tax revenue."

The project, which would be called Mercato and built in a Tuscan architectural style, appears to have the necessary support on the commission. Both Mayor Sue Hack and Commissioner Mike Amyx spoke in favor of the project when the commission considered it in November.

The development plans call for a single 175,000-square-foot building that could be the home of a new big-box retailer. Plans also call for two smaller retail buildings of 5,600 square feet and 4,000 square feet, and seven office buildings ranging from 5,700 square feet to 60,000 square feet.

The development group, which includes Lawrence businessmen Duane and Steve Schwada and Thomas and Tim Fritzel, has said it doesn't yet have a big-box retail tenant for the project. The timeline for the project will be dependent upon finding a tenant, the developers have said.


Bud Stagg 11 years, 1 month ago

Tanger was in a horrible place. You have to build stuff where people live. South Iowa is too damn far away. I don't think any of the new stuff on S. metcalf, 119th, or shawnee mission pkwy is bad.

IT's America people.

LogicMan 11 years, 1 month ago

Lowe's, Sam's Club, Golden Corral, and Red Lobster!

Hmmm, good! :-)

Mike Blur 11 years, 1 month ago

Go ahead and approve it, no questions asked. This is what Lawrence voted for.

Expect a complex of stoplights on 6th street at that intersection--and possibly on the SLT itself--to divert traffic to the shopping complex.

Install a 20,00 sq.ft. nightclub to attract patrons from Topeka who, every night, would undoubtedly want to patronize area businesses in the complex! Yay Topeka!

This is what Lawrence citizens voted for. Within 5 years, 6th and the SLT will be as fugly as anything on Wanamaker, Metcalf or Shawnee Mission Parkway. Right on!

Michael Capra 11 years, 1 month ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Bleufer 11 years, 1 month ago

What about the old Tanger Mall? There is plenty of empty space out there. Will this new shopping district look like Tanger in a decade, or will it look like Olathe?

Bradley Kemp 11 years, 1 month ago

"Tuscan style" and "175,000 square feet" are mutually exclusive.

bluerose 11 years, 1 month ago

hi folks! welcome to AnyTown USA! it has taken a while, but we have finally caught up with the rest of America! see?! here at our front door, we have our "european shopping village" (a trend that is about 15 years outdated, but HEY, better late than never, right?). here we have miles of comfortably identical housing for the upscale sheep - lovely establishments for their procreation, mind-numbing relaxations and most importantly, places to park their large showy vehicles.

driving along (of course), we see yet more shopping opportunity, even a large landscaped box that one can pretend is not really WalMart. however, of course, that is where the shopping really takes place. that European stuff is just a front. ( that's an insider's secret!)

eventually we will come to the historical area, which is important for any town to keep prettied up, even when no longer useful. further along, to the North and East, and we won't bother visiting there, is where the sheep wish the more undesirable creatures would remain and be quiet. unfortunately, even undesirables need to procure, so they must drive their distasteful vehicles for miles to do so. but HEY! keeps that economy happy, doesn't it?

yes, indeed! finally Lawrence Kansas has caught up with the American Dream - a spacious and spread out town where one can drive and drive and shop to one's heart's content. wheeeeeeee! now let's go have some fun! got your pocketbooks out? baaaaaaa!

OnlyTheOne 11 years, 1 month ago

Bluerose, I wish I could have said it so well!

Bladerunner 11 years, 1 month ago

Bluerose is that historical area thats sooooooo important to keep, the same one that cost over a quarter million to lay a one block brick street a few years ago? You can have it. I for one welcome Lawrence embracing the 21st century. You're welcome to move to Oskie or McClouth where you still might have a few good years without chain stores. Plenty of brick streets for you too.

KansasKel 11 years, 1 month ago

Just one Fazoli's, that's all I'm asking.

tolawdjk 11 years, 1 month ago

So "big box retail" counts as a "good job"?

Baille 11 years, 1 month ago

Metastatic retail. Woo hoo! I can't WAIT until Lawrence looks like Olathe. Run-down downtown, abandoned strip malls, long stretches of dated and poorly kept retail sections, a decaying residential core, and bright and shiny outskirts. This is going to be AWESOME!

You go, Dever. Tear 'em up, buddy.

alm77 11 years, 1 month ago

bluerose, kudos to you!!

If there MUST be this sort of thing, then 6th and STL is the place for it. I say move the proposed new Walmart to this location. A Tuscan Walmart, how charming...

Toto_the_great 11 years, 1 month ago

I think the new retail center is a stupid idea, but if you create it, how about bringing in Biaggi's? - Chillin' in McLouth where we enjoy Gambino's pizza.

JSDAD 11 years, 1 month ago

hey everyone who wants to spend extra needs a place to stop on the way to the new walmart

jonas 11 years, 1 month ago

I guess it's the WV shooting thing, but I read this headline as the SLT project caused someone to actually get shot.

Packman 11 years, 1 month ago

Can we put this thing to a vote?

I'd like to see a shiny, new Wal-Mart with an Eldridge Hotel facade at the corner of Inverness and Oak Tree Dr. A tangy taste of the new with a hint of the old.

There are lots of people in this neighborhood that would love to walk to the store to do all their shopping. Right Mike?

gontek 11 years, 1 month ago

Get a Bass Pro Shop or a Cabelas outlet there folks - and a Whole Foods - they are Tuscan style sometimes.

jayhawkinpa 11 years, 1 month ago

Tuscan-style? That's Olive Garden's new motif. Somebody should just ask, nobody is going to go to the trouble of getting funded and approved with out the anchor in place.

Rationalanimal 11 years, 1 month ago

Awesome. In two weeks Chestnut and Dever have done more for job creation than the former SLC has done in 4 years.

average 11 years, 1 month ago

Norma! That's the most Tuscan parking lot I've ever seen!

PeteJayhawk 11 years, 1 month ago

Golden Corral and Red Lobster are your idea of great developments? Wow, way to aim for the stars there pal. Save up long enough and you might just be able to take the family out to a TGI Friday's someday.

Mackadoo 11 years, 1 month ago

Rationalanimal, these are not the kinds of jobs we need to create to keep the commuters working in town. I currently work in Topeka, my husband is lucky enough to work at KU, and we live in Lawrence. I tried like hell to find any job that wasn't a $9/hr retail job in town when I graduated college 5 years ago.

And again I tried and failed just 2 years ago when I left my job in Kansas City, eventually having to settle for working in Topeka this time.

We commuters don't just need "jobs" in town, we need CAREERS; something that building more retail space does NOT significantly contribute to.

roger_o_thornhill 11 years, 1 month ago

Just integrate residential and you have an ok notion. Look at all the retail suggestions here. Would be nice though if it weren't surrounded by a sea of parking lots and there was life there even after business hours. Seems like that is one of the new trends in development anyways. And I always have to here how "progressive" and "forward thinking" this town is, but then I don't often see it. How much area does 335,000 square feet take up anyways? 9.3 acres. Why can't some of that be vertical space (multi-level for the dunderheads)? What is the required size provided parking? Isn't there a better way of providing these things and more without resorting to the cookie-cutter parking lot wastelands of other towns? Of course, I'm sure $hortterm $$ interests will prevail. But I shouldn't be so pessimistic.

bugmenot 11 years, 1 month ago

Wow. I hope hawkperchedatriverfront never has to go through a tough job search, or, God forbid, loses his job. What a nasty thing to say to someone who only spoke the truth; $9/hour retail jobs don't build a community. Careers do. What a jerk.

naturalist 11 years, 1 month ago

This is infuriating. Good bye to our old, eco-conscious commission and before you can blink an eye the money-grubbing developers who care not about carpetting green space and habitat with concrete, with large retailers who don't care about products or employees, and with resultant traffic problems. We had a few peaceful years with a great city commission but alas those days appear to be over. Wonder why we need to build more retail space in Lawrence anyway? Has anyone taken a look lately at how many empty buildings in strip malls we have in Lawrence? The Tanger Mall is only the tip of the iceberg; then there's that strip of emptiness along N. 3rd that a developer recently built for no good reason. Apparently owners are getting big write-offs on those properties since not one of them will drop their rent to accommodate organizations and businesses that cannot afford to pay their over-inflated prices. And big chain restaurants have already complained about Lawrence and left--remember the Hereford House? (Has that space been filled yet?) Lawrence is a special town because it doesn't cater to these businesses. If you enjoy traffic congestion and chain stores/restaurants you can drive to Topeka or Overland Park. Leave our town alone.

Mackadoo 11 years, 1 month ago

Oh hawk, thank god you know all the details about my situation so much better than I do! Your argument is just so convincing -- you must be a motivational speaker. At least you've dropped that ridiculous 3rd person "The Hawk says ..." thing that you used to do.

I'm not stupid. I know all about where my taxes (and my husband's) are going, and please believe when I say that I don't like paying taxes to Topeka instead of the community I live in and love! Right now I don't have another feasible option. When Mike Dever knocked on my door during his campaign he told me one of his priorities was to bring GOOD jobs to town, not just another retail complex.

bugmenot 11 years, 1 month ago

No, I'm not on the public payroll. I work for a private corporation. Pretty sure I make more than you do by a lot. I'm by no means looking for a handout for me or anyone in this world. I'm just saddened by the future the Lawrence seems to be securing for itself. Lots of hourly wage jobs for the transient college kids, no good careers for the adults in this city. It will make the city even more of a commuterville, where people who live here aren't putting back in what they're using because their employers are out of town.

She has to live in Lawrence because her husband secured a job with the University. It's hard enough to find one good career nowadays, let alone two.

I don't want a handout, and neither does she. She didn't demand a job. She just lamented the lack of truly career-oriented jobs in Lawrence and stated that a Lowe's or Olive Garden wasn't going to bring in more.

You are seriously a jerk. Nice assumptions, though.

Mackadoo 11 years, 1 month ago

You're right, hawk. My property tax and sales tax dollars sure are a drain on the economy. I'm such a terrible person. Sucking the very life out of Lawrence with my volunteer time and my propensity to buy local!

Get serious. Not many people would choose to live and raise a family in Topeka over Lawrence when presented the option.

concernedparent 11 years, 1 month ago

Blue73harley, I think its kinda like the Yankee's/Red sox. You never like both teams you only like one. The Depot is my personal choice. I hate going to Lowes in Topeka. I find the employees very rude and not very helpful. I actually wouldn't go to Lowes except they are the only place that we can find our carpet pad that we need.

deec 11 years, 1 month ago

They also overhire for the big grand super-duper opening, then after the hoopla is over, start cutting employee's hours so they won't qualify for benefits.

deec 11 years, 1 month ago

So just because everybody does it, that makes it all right?

drewdun 11 years, 1 month ago

The wingnuts just can't stand that Lawrence might be a little different from the rest of Kansas, so they want to turn it into their DREAMLAND: Olathe, Kansas. What I say to them is: "If you like Olathe so much, WHY DON'T YOU MOVE THERE?"

zimmerman 11 years, 1 month ago

Three words come to mind when reading this article. TANGER OUTLET MALL

snowWI 11 years, 1 month ago

For all those who do not like the fact that Lawrence is different, how about MOVING TO OLATHE. You can enjoy your BLAND and BEIGE house filled with strip malls and suburban sprawl in every direction. Many of these cookie cutter houses have very cheap construction. I agree with what logrithmic said at 9:11AM.

KsTwister 11 years, 1 month ago

Sometimes even when you win-you lose. But this approval was started August 19 of last year. I also saw that ECO2 made this one of its recommendations. I guess if whether this areas choice is industry or retail then I would have to choose retail. Who wants to breathe industry?

Richard Heckler 11 years, 1 month ago

We are told chain stores generate economic growth. Local officials often get dollar signs in their eyes at the prospect of a new chain store coming to town. This is not economic development, however. It is economic displacement. Unlike new manufacturing facilities, which do generate added wealth, new retail stores simply displace sales at existing, often locally owned, businesses. These businesses in turn will experience reduced sales tax revenue, job losses, and potential failure. Several studies confirm that the end result of new chain store development is at best marginal overall improvement in taxes and jobs, and, at worst, a decline. On top of this, communities will lose the tremendous economic benefits of local ownership.

snowWI 11 years, 1 month ago

Posted by bd (anonymous) on April 17, 2007 at 11:36 a.m. (Suggest removal) "piggly wiggly" LOL , do those grocery stores even exist anymore!

KsTwister 11 years, 1 month ago

I didn't like it last year either.

Now, please point out it to Wal-mart(as previous poster said), they can't help but make more money off of the I-70 corridor(give them their sign so they will),after all Tanger has its sign.Change that ordinance for outlying areas and bring in the others it kept out,Cracker Barrel,Red Lobster... If they go out of business we can use the parking lots for tennis and basketball courts. can move a Olive Garden and 4 more banks to the 6 th & Wakarusa intersection. We always have room for more restraurants and banks. Sheesh..........

snowWI 11 years, 1 month ago

I agree with you on that one merrill. You can see first hand examples in JOCO concerning how much retail was overbuilt in certain areas. Now, in the central and northern areas of Overland Park their are many closed stores and abandoned strip malls dotting the landscape. All of the newer retail gets displaced further to the south which means a lot of the older shopping areas decline. This in turn just keeps adding to the suburban sprawl problem there.

Eric Beightel 11 years, 1 month ago

Is wanting a professional job done in an office such a bad thing? You clearly are associating that with negative conotations but I'm having a hard time understanding that.

I was born and raised in Lawrence. Graduated from LHS and from KU. Upon graduation I was unable to secure a position in my field in Lawrence so I took a job in Overland Park and commuted. Eventually I took a job with the state and commuted to Topeka. I would have loved to work in Lawrence and cut out that drive time and fuel costs but the reality of the situation is that there simply aren't that many professional jobs available in Lawrence.

I was not an interloper or carpet bagger - I was a Lawrence native who loved his hometown but had to leave during the day to afford to live there. I sincerely hope that the commission is successful in attracting well paying professional jobs to the area. Hopefully some environmental consulting...I may just move back.

Michael Capra 11 years, 1 month ago

blah blah blah blah ding ding smart growth blah blah blah

Michael Capra 11 years, 1 month ago

merrill go hug boogy tonight tell him what to say,blah blah blah smart growth ding ding

KsTwister 11 years, 1 month ago

...."fancy KsTwister drinks." ???

I never considered Jack&Coke on the rocks a fancy. But maybe this weekend I may make time for a couple, its been awhile and vacation is almost over.

But I agree believe it or not hawk,"Lawrence and any other community do not owe their residents a job of their liking. " No, they don't, but they should not bleed us and our families for tax money and then turn our town into the ground while they build the roundabouts, load it up with $6 hour retail jobs, glass libraries, and lofts either.

KsTwister 11 years, 1 month ago

Gas prices only bother me when I look at my mower and think it should have a windshield and a backseat with that tank of gas. But I don't whine about it cause it doesn't need any alignment from running it on these streets. So I guess I still come out ahead.

bearclaws 11 years, 1 month ago


Why not put something out there that will actually draw people from the region?

I'm sick of driving to Minneapolis just to shop there.

snowWI 11 years, 1 month ago

How about MEIJER! A superstore that is from the Great Lakes region. However, their are no locations in this part of the country yet.

Godot 11 years, 1 month ago

I love the phrase "cookie cutter houses".

What are they, really? Are they High Chapparell? The really ugly houses being built by Habitat? The neo-Euorpoean houses proposed by the New Urbanism crowd?Or the eyesore of Delaware Commons? Or how about the exremely ugly Lofts downtown and their counterparts at Bella Sera?

Or are they any housing structure that the loyal leftitsts of Lawrence oppose?

blackwalnut 11 years, 1 month ago

Godot: Look west of Wakarusa. They all look the same. Then look in the older part of town. All the houses look really, really different from each other. Everyone knows what "cookie cutter houses" means - except you, apparently.

blackwalnut 11 years, 1 month ago


Very well said. Lawrence is first and foremost a college town, and always has been. People who want to turn it into Kansas City would be better off just moving to Kansas City, because apparently they do not appreciate what is unique about Lawrence (and would be lost if Lawrence imitates KC).

It's sad that many cities have lost their individual character. It's about to happen to Lawrence, too.

blackwalnut 11 years, 1 month ago

hawkperchecatriverfront: All the Subway sandwich shops in town are owned by a company in Leawood. I'd wager most of the chain restaurants in Law. are not locally owned. That money flows right out of this town and enriches another town.

snowWI 11 years, 1 month ago

Cookie Cutter House= look alike, lots of beige, vinyl siding, oversized garage, and generally cheap materials. A good example of cookie cutter houses would be anything built after 1990 in Olathe.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 1 month ago

30% over built in retail, according to Placemakers and others, plus adding a huge sum of retail last night is not strengthening downtown or will do anything to curb the retail vacancy rate in Lawrence. Placemakers was paid $250,000 and spent one week in Lawrence. It seems odd that Mayor Hack and former Mayor Amyx would ignore that warning when in fact Mayor Hack was most instrumental in the hiring. Dever , Chestnut, Amyx and Hack say they disagree while offering nothing to substantiate their disagreement.

There has never been a Retail Impact Study specifically associated with Mercado or the "New Urbanism" retail project. This is a tool that could provide such specific data. Speculation is not good enough for our city.

Economic & Community Impact Review

A number of communities now require a comprehensive economic and community impact review before approving any new retail construction. Typically, the review is triggered when the proposed development exceeds a certain size (e.g., a retail store larger than 20,000 square feet or that will generate more than 500 vehicle trips per day).

In order to pass, the proposed project must meet certain criteria outlined in the ordinance. These vary from place to place, but may include impact on the downtown business district, employment (jobs gained versus jobs lost), wages, tax revenue, roads and other public services, historic resources, air and water pollution, and traffic. As part of this process, cities typically require that economic and fiscal (tax) impact studies be conducted by independent consultants chosen by the city council and paid for by a fee assessed on the developer. In most cases, there's also a public hearing to gather citizen input. In the end, if the city council (or planning board) determines that the project's overall costs outweigh the benefits, then the developer is denied a permit to proceed.

Now we'll have a Wal-Mart,New Urbanism and Mercado all approved without a Retail Impact Study for each project as should be customary in tight retail markets.

Failure to use proper tools will provide retail economic displacement NOT retail economic growth.

prioress 11 years, 1 month ago

blackwalnut: It's sad that many cities have lost their individual character. It's about to happen to Lawrence, too.

Individual character? Really? Drive to Ottawa and look at their downtown, or for that matter Lyndon or Burlingame. Lots of nice, civil war era obsolete brick buildings with fancy fronts. I'm not advocating downtown be bulldozed and replaced with more crap like the new front on the old bank building complex at 7th and Mass, but we are deluded if we think anyone can 'save' downtown. Downtown will save itself through free entreprise and economic principles, AKA bars and clubs and eateries where people can try to make real money.

conservative 11 years, 1 month ago

Hey Jack,

What about us long time lawrence residents who live and work here, and just want to stop seeing so much of the retail dollars that could be spent here going to other cities?

Kathy Gates 11 years, 1 month ago

For a city that tries to promote itself as open and liberal, this thread makes me think that Lawrence is as close-minded as any other city. I live in the evil west of Iowa area. I commute outside of Lawrence to work, as does my husband. Moving to be closer to your job isn't as easy as this thread makes it seem. My job is in KC. My husband's job is in Topeka. Lawrence is a commuting compromise for both of us. Before you flame me...neither one of our jobs exist in Lawrence! Give us some credit here--I'd love to work in Lawrence, as would he.

Another the last year we've spent almost $12,000 on home improvement projects. About $2500 was spent locally. We tried, but what we needed to do to our home was simply not available locally. You can fight to keep out big box retail all you want, but the reality is that we paid a lot of tax money to other cities that I wish we could have sent to Lawrence.

davisnin 11 years, 1 month ago

Perhaps we need to set fire to Topeka so people won't be so torn and forced to live in such a s#@#$ backward town.

davisnin 11 years, 1 month ago

smgkag, that wasn't specifically at you, it's merely an oft stated reason for living here. It would be fine if that situation didn't almost always involve people desiring changes to Lawrence that in all reality will destroy it. A parasitic infection of bland suburbia. These next four years are the end, it was all said last night. Have fun with all the $9/hr jobs that Dever will bring in.

Don Zimmer 11 years, 1 month ago

Show me one community that does not have what you call "urban sprawl".

It's called reality. unless you have unlimited resourses you buy what you can afford.

Just as in the West I do not see any significant non cookie cutter houses downtown except for a few, just as in the West.

If you follow some bloggers on this site you will see that nothing pleases them, they complain about anthing What a life.

Lawrence was never a utopia with all unique housing.

BigPrune 10 years, 5 months ago

It will be years before something gets built. It is too far out to think about. Plus, it will have to compete with another new attraction, The Legends. Lawrence doesn't have the population to support something so far off the beaten path.

In time, it might happen.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 5 months ago

Hey, this is the patriotic thing to do.

Without mindless consumerism, we wouldn't have our massive trade imbalance with China.

Without the trade imbalance, the Chinese couldn't buy up our all the government bonds that cover all our deficit spending.

Without the borrowed money from the Chinese, we couldn't fund the war of terror for Iraq's oilfields.

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