Archive for Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Student apartment complex approved

December 19, 2007


Commissioners commit to repairing intersection

Lawrence city commissioners indicated a commitment to repairing a North Lawrence intersection next year. Enlarge video

A major apartment complex for university students cleared its largest hurdle at City Hall on Tuesday.

On a 4-1 vote, commissioners approved rezoning requests for The Exchange, an apartment complex that would put up to 750 units on the southern side of 31st Street, near Ousdahl Road.

"I think this will be an incredibly high-quality project," Mayor Sue Hack said.

Several neighbors expressed concern about the size of the project, the amount of traffic it would add to the area, and whether Lawrence's rental market was in a position to absorb the new units.

"There are some giant concerns for the public with this project," said Bonnie Johnson, president of the adjacent Indian Hills Neighborhood Association.

Developers with Texas-based Fairfield Residential said they hope to begin construction on phase one of the project in April. The first phase would include 324 units totaling 888 beds. Development plans would allow for a second phase of an equal size to be built farther south on the property.

Members of the development group said the Lawrence market was ready for an apartment complex that is designed specifically for students. It will place a heavy emphasis on amenities such as swimming pools, basketball courts, volleyball courts and other recreational areas.

"It really will be a resort-style type of design," said Zachary Johnston, a member of the development team.

Developers and some commissioners also said the community would benefit by having a large-scale development that specialized in providing student housing.

"I think there are a lot of students living in single-family neighborhoods right now who are causing concerns to some people," City Commissioner Mike Dever said.

Commissioner Boog Highberger cast the lone vote against the proposal.

"I'm concerned about the magnitude of it," Highberger said.

Commissioners also approved a smaller-scale apartment project for 23rd Street. Commissioners unanimously approved a site plan for Rylee Court Apartments, a 16-unit complex that would be built on vacant property just east of Checkers Food Store at 23rd and Louisiana streets.

Commissioners did express some concern about the project, in part, because it will create an additional curb cut on a busy portion of 23rd Street. But the development group, Lawrence-based First Management Inc., was unable to reach an agreement with a neighboring property owner to share access.


Richard Heckler 10 years, 5 months ago

Empty housing cost taxpayers money.

Another curb cut on 23rd hmmmmmmm

10 years, 5 months ago

"Members of the development group said the Lawrence market was ready for an apartment complex that is designed specifically for students."

we DO already have this in lawrence -- it's called "the legends". and isn't 31st & ousdahl where the wetlands "officially" start?

Oracle_of_Rhode 10 years, 5 months ago

Yeah I'm sure all students will flee the "single family neighborhoods" right around KU for this "resort" (heh) on the city's outskirts with no bus service. Families nearby KU are used to the students, they're part of the deal when you live in a college town and shouldn't be ghettoized.

chicklet 10 years, 5 months ago

i remember Jefferson Commons being for students only and THAT didn't work out very well

MCwzMC 10 years, 5 months ago

I don't understand how these developers (or whoever ultimately shoulders the cost of the project) plan to make a profit from this place.

Maybe if the development is incredibly nice, some of the students will move from the other 1/2 full commercial developments to this place. However, after working at one of these places while in school, I can't help but doubt that there aren't enough "rich kids" to fill all these places up.

The lack of buses will have zero impact on this place. This is a development built for kids with money to blow and nice cars to drive. The only downside, as far as these students are concerned, is the difficulty getting to and from the bars.

Its always a bit sad seeing freshman from from large metro-areas show up to check out apartments like these with their parents (usually one bedrooms). I can't help but think about the complete lack of a true college experience they are missing out on.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 5 months ago

There's already a glut of apartments in this town, and this will just make it that much worse.

But what else can you expect from a commission who have been hired to never say "no" to any development of any kind?

Sharon Roullins 10 years, 5 months ago

Ghettotized? Hmmmm, not going to go there. All I wanted was a decent library.

monkeyhawk 10 years, 5 months ago

"I think there are a lot of students living in single-family neighborhoods right now who are causing concerns to some people," City Commissioner Mike Dever said.

Since rental housing is under city control in above mentioned neighborhoods, at least there are only three unrelated individuals per unit to cause those concerns.

Perhaps someone could enlighten us as to how many persons are allowed in a multi-family dwelling? Could there be, say, 10 people allowed in a 2 bedroom? Do they have to be related? Are there even any requirements?

Why did the city only select single-family zoning for their imposition? Why shouldn't apartments and condos be made to conform, register, pay the yearly fee for EACH unit and open their tenants' doors to the city?

Think what a cash cow that would be for the city. Might even pay for a few gallons of "environmentally friendly" fuel for the empty buses.

MCwzMC 10 years, 5 months ago

Sounds like Hack is a bit delusional. It's a college student apartment complex not the Taj Mahal. Give me a break.

With the way these places are built, this complex will be a complete dump after 10 years (that may be very generous).

Unlike the dumps around campus where students want to live for the convenience of walking to school and the bars, this place is in the middle of nowhere. Absent growth in the student population, Long-term, this place is destined to join the ever-expanding number of 1/2 vacant apartment complexes dotting south Lawrence.

P.S. If Lawrence or KU hasn't grown in recent years, how can the commission honestly believe that this is a decent idea. Ohh wait, I forgot - paid consultants, damn they're good.

geniusmannumber1 10 years, 5 months ago

Okay. If any of you Harvard MBAs just posted anything about "Oh no! Yet another half empty apartment complex!", you never, ever, ever get to make a post about lack of affordable rental housing in Lawrence ever again. Can we agree?

bastet 10 years, 5 months ago

That space on 23rd has some of the only green space and trees all along that hideous roadway. So let's bulldoze those down and put up tacky student apartments that will create even more traffic problems.


blackwalnut 10 years, 5 months ago

Apartments are overbuilt in Lawrence. Every realtor will tell you so. Every apartment owner is stuck with vacancies in October.

Slums of the future, being created today by the developer-owned commission!

blackwalnut 10 years, 5 months ago

Who wants to bet that, when they cut the T-bus routes in half, the bus will be certain to run to this apartment complex so its owner can fill it with students?

Someone suspiciously like the mayor, or probably her best friend, claimed in these forums the T-bus was pushed by Doug Compton, to provide transportation for students from his many apartment complexes. Now that rumor has the ring of truth if any one ever did.

monkeyhawk 10 years, 5 months ago

Yes, when the bus is cut in half, (and not mercifully put to sleep), it will be the west side that will experience the cuts. The west side routes are the emptiest. But, it is interesting that the portion of the city which pays the greatest percentage of taxes will be subsidizing a service that they have no access to.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 5 months ago

This will become 1 big party place, one more place for the police to monitor. When I first moved to Lawrence, there was a shortage of apartments, and if you didn't have a lease signed in the Spring, you were going to have problems finding one. Now there is a glut, but apparently it is cheaper for these places to be left empty rather than lower the rent, because I don't see any cheap places to live.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 5 months ago

Ignoring the need for studies to determine a need for any new project is irresponsible and unacceptable. This type of action merely contributes to economic displacement in which the " real estate/development" anti economic growth machine has to its' credits.

Is this new complex using CEK Insurance?

staff04 10 years, 5 months ago

When I considered moving back to Lawrence about 3 1/2 years ago I was told by someone or read somewhere (can't remember the source) that there were 2000 empty rental units in Lawrence.

Has the population seeking housing grown that much?

I thought Lawrence was losing population?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 5 months ago

We have the type of commission that we had when the mess on 23rd street was created. Curb cuts everywhere! If they can't drive into Checkers, then that piece of land should be single family dwelling or a park.

OnlyTheOne 10 years, 5 months ago

I see references to 23rd St but the article says 31st St. Which is it? And who in the world really thinks Lawrence needs a 750 unit housing project for students?

Fatty_McButterpants 10 years, 5 months ago

This song should be sung at the beginning of every city council meeting (sung to the tune of "My Country 'tis of Thee): Our council is empty, voting very stupidly, again and again. Put up a Wal-mart here, approve a building there, we have no vision clear of what we are. Put in a roundabout, hope they don't figure out, we haven't got a clue what we should do.

Susan Mangan 10 years, 5 months ago

monkeyhawk - have you seen any of the east-side routes, or is there a study you're quoting from? I live in southeast Lawrence (just south of K-10) and an empty bus goes right by my house 4 times per hour every day (or every weekday, at least) wasting my tax money. Don't assume the west is the only side paying overinflated taxes for unused and inefficient social programs. Not many of us in the east are happy about subsidizing a small handful of people...we just don't assume that we're the only ones paying taxes and getting shafted by this city.

Grundoon Luna 10 years, 5 months ago

DollyPP, it's Cabrini Green, no "s", and Lawrence has theirs. It's called Edgewood and is townhomes instead of stories of apartments. The need for affordable housing doesn't necessaily mean we need more housing projects.

Or, maybe we do since more and more people are sliding in to poverty in recent times . . . . Thanks Dub.

Grundoon Luna 10 years, 5 months ago

Voice, Prairie Park is the end of the route. You will see more riders in between. The bus stops South of Harper and 23trd and East of Harper and 23rd usually have people waiting for the bus there. It not at all unusual for me to see people waiting for the bus at 27th and Harper.

CoAd 10 years, 5 months ago


I enjoy hearing all sides... especially in opposition but I didn't notice logic call you a name.

CoAd 10 years, 5 months ago

Nevermind, I see now.

Let's all play nice.

blackwalnut 10 years, 5 months ago

Anonymous user

staff04 (Anonymous) says: When I considered moving back to Lawrence about 3 1/2 years ago I was told by someone or read somewhere (can't remember the source) that there were 2000 empty rental units in Lawrence.

I heard something similar from more than one realtor when I was considering investing in rental property in 2004. I was discouraged, based on the oversupply of rental units in town. Unless the city has grown a lot since the, the city cannot support more apartments.

Susan Mangan 10 years, 5 months ago

Azure - I certainly won't say that ALL of the buses are ALWAYS empty...I'm not watching them constantly. But I live just down the street from 27th and Harper ("closer in" along the people getting on at 27th and Harper would be on the bus by the time they passed my house) and I have never seen a bus go by with more than 2 people on it. It goes by just after 6 am and goes by every half hour, thereafter, until sometime at night (and back the other way twice an hour, as well). While I'm sure, at some point, there have been people on that bus, I have been outside at every time of day...from 6 am until 10 at night, and every time in between, at some point, and I have never seen more than 2 people on board at a time. Our neighborhood, out of concern for numerous area kids around during the summer, even did an informal survey last summer to guage the number of riders to take their cocerns to the city (Harper, south of 25th, is a narrow road for a bus route...the bus routinely has to stop to allow a car coming from the other direction to pass) and we took shifts over 2 weekdays watching the bus go both ways and counted the number of people on board. Over the course of an entire day, there were a total of 14 people on board. I can't remember what time the bus stops running, but it's at least 6 pm (I believe it might be 8, though). For just 12 hours, that's 48 buses going by, with a total ridership in our area of 14 people. The point of our "study" was to show that going deep into certain neighborhoods is not economically feasable or safe.

My point, with my original post, however, was that this isn't an east-west issue. I live in the east and the majority of my neighborhood is not happy about a generally empty bus driving up and down our neighborhood streets. It should run on major thoroughfares, only...27th, 31st, 23rd, etc. If the taxpayers are being asked to foot the bill for a few riders, they should be willing to walk an extra block to catch the bus.

laika 10 years, 5 months ago


I am a current student and I agree with what logic says. I live in a house in the Oread area, as do nearly all my friends. It's great, really convenient, I can ride my bike or walk everywhere. Now I'm not saying all students want to live here, obviously that's not true. But it is surely a fallacy to say that no students want to live in "run down" houses, seeing as it's really convenient and you're surrounded by other students. So it looks like some students, crazy as this might sound, do like to live near downtown.

Also, are you a student? Why do you claim to speak for students and then accuse others of trying to speak for all the citizens of Lawrence? Seems like a double standard.

monkeyhawk 10 years, 5 months ago

VoiceOfReason -

The reason I surmised that the biggest cuts would come to the west side is because that was the implication in Mr. Galante's presentation to the CC last night. He targeted the area west of Iowa claiming that most were homeowners with two cars and that those routes seemed to be the least used. He also cited the demographic of bus riders and most (if any) did not fall into the same demographic as those west of Iowa.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 5 months ago

oneonone, Read the whole article. They also talked about a complex behind Checkers. That is the reference to 23rd street.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 10 years, 5 months ago

Considering the location, they should call it Mosquito Bite Townhomes. That swamp is a breeding ground. Ever play a softball game at Broken Arrow in June?

Godot 10 years, 5 months ago

Are they being offered a tax rebate or TIF? Will they have to pay for their own infrastructure improvements?

black_butterfly 10 years, 5 months ago

The students will want to move in there when it is "brand new", but after a year or two it will lose it's newness and luster and start to empty out. Then the owners will register it with the housing authority since they won't be able to fill it up any other way, and it will become another section 8 haven. And life goes on.

kansas778 10 years, 5 months ago

The apartment construction is not because there is greater demand for more units, but because the prices are so high in Lawrence that they want to get in on it, even if they won't have a 100% tenancy. Remember, this is Kansas, not exactly the top real estate market of America, and in the rest of the state apartments are much cheaper. Think about this, while a similar home on the East coast can cost two or three times as much as it would in Lawrence, apartments are only about 20% more expensive. From the few people I know that went to K-State, they tell me that apartments are much cheaper in Manhattan.

So as long as they can get away with charging so much, they will continue to build more apartment complexes in Lawrence.

cowboy 10 years, 5 months ago

Many of the students moving in want new apartments and the parents want them in something clean and new , all these little rich kids showing up each year with their 50,000 dollar SUV's want their bowheads in a nice place , that said you'd think there would be enough of these here already.

With KU consistently raising housing costs it only makes sense for the kids to live off campus

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