Archive for Saturday, February 3, 2007

A vision of the city’s future

Residents see downtown grocery store, shopping center ideas at workshop

February 3, 2007


The ideas are flowing now.

Visitors who attended the second day of a weeklong planning workshop hosted by the city were greeted with ideas that included a downtown grocery store, a new neighborhood for the 19th and Haskell shopping center, and a large area south of the Wakarusa River that mixes neighborhood shops with nearby large rural spaces.

"I think we have had some meetings that have produced a few 'ah-ha' moments," said Ben Brown, a member of the PlaceMakers Consulting team that is in town through Tuesday to help the city develop a new code that would allow projects to be built using a Traditional Neighborhood Design concept.

The group hosted an event Friday afternoon at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott for the public to see how the work is progressing.

Among ideas on display:

¢ Redeveloping an area of New Hampshire Street between Eighth and Ninth streets to accommodate a 40,000-square-foot grocery store, a three-level, 360-space parking garage, and a four-story building that would feature offices and apartments or condominiums.

¢ A 1,000-acre development south of the Wakarusa River, east of U.S. Highway 59, that would feature a mix of housing types, a small neighborhood commercial center that would be within a five-minute walk of most homes, and several hundred acres of rural, green space.

¢ Redeveloping the shopping center at 19th Street and Haskell Avenue into a new neighborhood that would include 30 to 40 residential lots, a convenience store and about 20,000 square feet of retail space built to look like a mini-downtown block.

Consultants were stressing that all the ideas were just concepts, and that the plans didn't actually constitute a proposal that was set to happen.

But the concepts did create interest with some property owners. Laura Chaney owns the center at 19th and Haskell with her husband, John Chaney. She said they were eager to explore the consultants' ideas.

"I love the idea of residential housing there," Chaney said. "I think it would be beautiful, but we never would have thought of doing anything like that."

The key to making the project work, consultant Howard Blackson said, is realizing that the project doesn't need nearly as much parking as it does today. Instead, he said, the commercial areas could get by with about half as much parking as exists today because much of their business would come from people who live nearby and would walk to the neighborhood shops.

People interested in the work that the group is doing can talk individually with consultants from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. today through Sunday at their studio in the SpringHill Suites, 1 Riverfront Plaza. The group will be making its final presentation to city commissioners at their 6:35 p.m. meeting Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.


lunacydetector 11 years, 1 month ago

"new urbanists" = "smart growth" = consulting firm doing the $250,000 taxpayer subsidized study.

...a grocery store downtown....get real. remember the A & P on Mass (where allen press is now). the population hasn't increased at all in that area since A & P left the area in what year, like 1974 or so?

dream on.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 1 month ago

These are only ideas for the areas to expose what could happen at any one of the locations. The problem I detected is a few of the developers do not want to accept the number of residential units associated with the plans...they want to squeeze in more which = over build. Private money is the only way for any of the projects. More residential would likely raise our taxes no matter where it pops up.

WE need light industrial type thinking and jobs. This is not what they were contracted to do. Their multi use neighborhood designs are very cool however new neigborhoods are not what Lawrence needs.

According to the Placemaker reps this is not smart growth.

budwhysir 11 years, 1 month ago

An "ah-ha" moment. I had one of these when I first heard of the idea to have this little meeting. Just another way to increase taxes and throw up a few areas that look appealing and solve the problems of today while creating the headaches of tommorow.

A grocery store downtown?? People in this town dont go downtown to buy food, they go downtown to drink,

A 1,000 acre spot by Wakarusa river, this will attract hundreds of people from other towns.

Redevelop 19th and Haskell????? This is already a one stop shopping center with the check cashing, liqour store, conv. store, and PAROL OFFICE all right in a row. Why not just change the type of shopping in the exisiting mall??

I sure hope these redevelopments prove two things, one, they can do this without raising taxes, and two, they can do this without effecting the affordable housing costs in the areas they are looking at.

Oh, I hope there are no dangerous intersections created by this brilliant idea

cowboy 11 years, 1 month ago

1000 acre devo below the wakarusa , please keep your planning in lawrence and leave the country alone

News_to_me 11 years, 1 month ago

Nice, reality check. Your post was chock full of ideas. You're one of the consultants perhaps?

No one is suggesting we don't plan, just that we don't need people from out of town telling us what we want or need.

Another grocery store within a five mile radius of downtown would be nice. I'm tired of heading out west to do my shopping. North Lawrence needs a grocery store (among other things, i.e. a fire station) but heaven forbid that happening.

Did I see you at a meeting?

Jamesaust 11 years, 1 month ago

These pie-in-the-sky dreamers were sitting around at the Springhill Suites thinking up spots to place a downtown grocery store, and the answer was across the road: the very inappropriately located World Company headquarters (publisher of course of LJW). Why again is this massive-footprinted building that 'manufactures' newsprint (so much so that a disruptive train must cart in material) be located in the middle of the most urbanized part of the city?

How can LJW keep pushing this topic of "new urbanism" and various other commentary on the quaintness of downtown Lawrence when their own building - the northern end of the 600 block between Mass and N.H. - is an forbidding, windowless, tall, out of character, wall of brick? (And the attached, flat-top parking lots next door that I note now has its own pedestrian crossing in mid-road to disrupt the flow of traffic all the more.)

Sigmund 11 years, 1 month ago

Surely our quarter-million dollar consultants will show us where there is a the multi-million dollars in investment for a downtown grocery store. What, no? Well let us just raise taxes and subsidize The Merc so they can build downtown! In case no one noticed, this was a huge waste of money and I hope the two remaining PLC Kommissioners are removed from their positions in the next elections.

Sigmund 11 years, 1 month ago

The most expensive game of Sim City, ever. BTW, do you think any of the great Cities in the world were built by outside consultants? Which ones?

Jamesaust 11 years, 1 month ago

"I think it looks just fine."

I do too -- OUTSIDE of downtown. Its as much an eyesore as the bank tower.

(And a useful reminder to those who complain about any questioning of development plans - development mistakes, once made, are virtually impossible to correct later.)

Richard Heckler 11 years, 1 month ago

Some cities keep real city planners on planning commissions rather than overload them with the construction industry thinkers. Considering our demographics they find Lawrence has a bit too much retail(over built) which construction industry thinkers over look. Their game is building and making money in spite of the consequences.

Placemakers come with acceptable concepts. Walkable communities are likely the direction the future will take for a variety of reasons. Pollution and cost of fuel are too factors. Old west and East Lawrence neighborhoods come quite close to meeting their vision for walking and biking.

It appears that this group does more than sit around instead they move about our town taking a real hands on approach. Considering our demographics

Lawrence may well lose a few thousand commuters due to the cost of fuel and high property taxes at some point in time. The lions share of good paying employment is still KCMO metro and Topeka.

Even if Lawrence does not adopt this package it would be a great idea to keep in mind the substance with which they have shared.

Sigmund 11 years, 1 month ago

Merrill, as you are so good at predicting the future, why not play the lotto or invest in stocks? The truth is your "predictions" are no more than WAG (Wild A$$ Guess)? The problem, if your WAG's are WRONG then all of Lawrence pays the price with zero or negative growth, ever increasing property taxes, and no growth in the jobs you claim you want here.

Topeka and Kansas City are realities and despite your sincerest hope, many in Lawrence are going to commute. Lawrence was a sleepy little college town/ bedroom community that evolved into a larger bedroom community/college town. Your vision of stunting Lawrence's growth and being able to walk to a grocery store downtown with no need of the automobile is little more than a drug induced hallucination for 99.99% of Lawrencians.

You need to let go and let Lawrence grow up. You might not like the choices your little town makes, but it isn't yours anymore.

Jamesaust 11 years, 1 month ago

"Walkable communities are likely the direction the future ..."

Yeah, and soon we'll give up this settled agricultural society fad and return in the future to following migratory animal herds.

The last thing we need is some New Age, religious Uniformitarians telling us that what's old will be new again ... in the future... and for the same price as snake oil. Repeat after me: thesis, antithesis, synthesis.

not_dolph 11 years, 1 month ago

Reality_Check - your 9:02 am post makes you my new hero.

New2KU 11 years, 1 month ago

Interesting all the consultants could come up with are plans for building retail space. I agree with merrill in that Lawrence needs to atract good paying jobs. People in West Lawrence commute to Topeka, while those on the East go to KC.

What will it take to atract industry and jobs?

Sigmund 11 years, 1 month ago

The "We must plan to plan" crowd ignores the reality that life is not linear. Your assumptions about tomorrow based upon today will probably not be accurate in a year, let alone 20 years. The key to natural growth is the rational decisions made in real time, not years ago, as those unpredictable but important changes occur in the economy, culture, and global conditions. Changes that were not foreseen years ago nor predictable years in advance.

Putting Lawrence into a straight jacket and limiting its ability to adapt to that future is little more than planning to be obsolete and irrelevant. Living in the past, nostolgic for a decade that is long sinced passed us by, in a culture and society that is experiencing an ever increasing rate of change, is idiotic.

white_mountain 11 years, 1 month ago

Now we're paying consultants to plan our economy for us?


Kookamooka 11 years, 1 month ago

Why don't they think of ways to provide more jobs for the people who live here so they won't have to commute? If they can't do that, they should consider a light rail line to KC so people who commute can hop on the train and head into KC or Topeka.

Add a couple of wind farms, a la "Zephyr" energy, an ice skating rink, a botanical garden and a city museum and we could compete with other towns twice our size for those big corporate headquarters!

Lawrence just isn't glamorous enough for the rest of the world. Most people who live here, don't care. Keep Lawrence a civic secret.

budwhysir 11 years, 1 month ago

Yep, thats right, put a grocery store right downtown and the biggest selling item will be BEER. This will take care of any problems that exist there already. And the parking, that would be city owned property so we could arrest people with guns and let them go. After all these violations are rarely prosecuted.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 1 month ago

"In case no one noticed, this was a huge waste of money and I hope the two remaining PLC Kommissioners are removed from their positions in the next elections."

I've heard that it was Sue Hack and the Chamber of Commerce who brought these consultants in, and not the "PLC" commissioners. Is that correct?

TruthSeeker 11 years, 1 month ago

I believe it was Sue Hack, Corlis, Ermeling and others. They put flyers everywhere to get the complainers on this forum and in Lawrence to come and give their ideas. Some did come and were surprised that they were actually listened to. What was really cool was that the school district didn't realize how much input from them that planners and developers really wanted (which was a lot). Pleasantly surprised were a lot of sides.

So if you didn't go to give your ideas and listen to the ideas of others so that differences could be addressed then "Doom on You, doom on you, doom on and shame on you".

roger_o_thornhill 11 years, 1 month ago

So consultants get a quarter million; the CofC gets to bolster its rolls; Harris, Fitzell, Compton, et. al. get millions upon millions, and what do the rest of the folks get?

Kat Christian 11 years, 1 month ago

I guess my concern for a grocery store downtown is overcrowding. Parking is becoming more and more difficult as it is. Perhaps a small grocery such as a convenient type store that sold more food items instead of junk food items. I would not go downtown to grocery shop - it would be too much trouble to haul groceries to my car which I would have to park so far away. Not a practical idea. Lawrence needs to get rid of the party scenes that seems to linger downtown. Get rid of Last call for one. ALSO, we need a roller/skating rink in this town. I think this would serve as a great outlet for young people in developing a competitive sport and family entertainment. I've asked for about this to many people and they agree.

cerealmom 11 years, 1 month ago

Just a couple Question: Who is going to collect the grocery carts Downtown? Where are we suppose to park? Why doesn't the city just put one back in North Lawrence where we need it?

budwhysir 11 years, 1 month ago

In a sense couldnt the little grocery store on the otherside of the river that is no longer there be considered as on the edge of downton????

Why didnt the city put up some money to clean that place up and make the grocery store there.

jafs 11 years, 1 month ago

It seems to me that we could improve Lawrence without continuing to create new developments, which mostly benefit developers and real estate agents.

The mini-mall at 19th and Haskell could be greatly improved without "redeveloping" it.

Existing older housing stock could be changed from rental property to owner-occupied housing, perhaps with some assistance from the city with necessary maintenance/repairs.

Lights on 23rd St., for example, could be timed.

The real unmet need in Lawrence is for good full-time jobs with benefits for adults who wish to settle here and perhaps raise a family. Why not plan to improve this situation?

roger_o_thornhill 11 years, 1 month ago

I say we take all property within the city limits with "eminent domain" statutes and give the city to private developers to come up with better tax revenue properties. Isn't that how it works now?

budwhysir 11 years, 1 month ago

to answer the question of who would bring in the shopping carts, I believe this downtown grocery store would be more full service offering a delivery service to your home thru a taxi servie that is currently delivering cooked food from fast food place.

As for parking, when we all start riding scooters around, you can park anywhere you want. Scooters take up less room but the fines for not paying parking meters are alot higher.

And finaly, north lawrence doesnt have a grocery store now so why would the city put one there and make an improvement? Thats not how our city works.

As for trains, I wouldnt want to take a train to another town to buy my groceries, I use alot of meat and ice cream and they would melt prior to getting home.

budwhysir 11 years, 1 month ago

Hillcrest shopping center????????????????

This isnt anywhere near downtown. And the hawk you speak of would fly didnt have to move so far away, there are plenty of food places downtown.

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