Property owners at a northwest Lawrence shopping center soon will be getting checks - one for $317,000, the other for $50,000 - to compensate for property rights seized by state highway officials to help make way for a wider Sixth Street.
Westgate LC, Northland Venture LC and Domino LC all agreed to settle their disputes with the Kansas Department of Transportation over the price of a 25-foot-wide stretch of property along the south side of Sixth Street, east of Wakarusa Drive, for a street-widening project completed last year.
The property at issue - running in front of the shopping center that includes a Dillons, several smaller shops, a Peoples Financial Center and a Kwik Shop - remains owned by Westgate, Northland Venture and Domino.
The department didn't buy the land but instead acquired permanent permission to use the stretch for public purposes, such as sidewalks, street signs, underground utility pipes and other items.
Under terms of the settlements, however, the department now has confirmed that it will not use the property for an actual road - unless it first acquires the property as right-of-way, either through negotiations or condemnation.
The settlements, approved earlier this month, also include language outlining that the permanent easement would not hamper any future development at the corner. Westgate's partners previously had expressed concerns that the easement could have rendered the commercial site noncompliant with the city's zoning rules, therefore throwing the potential for an expanded Dillons or construction on a vacant pad site into jeopardy.
"This settles lawsuits, which is a good thing for everybody," said Jane Eldredge, an attorney for the property owners. "It means that the KDOT widening will not have had a negative impact on any expansion or redevelopment that takes place on those properties."
The settlements come after a Douglas County jury ruled, in July 2005, that the department had underpaid Westgate for the easement by $317,000. The department already had paid Westgate $260,000, and Westgate had sought $1.27 million.
The department had appealed the jury ruling to the Kansas Supreme Court, which had not yet ruled on the case. The settlement ends the department's appeal.
Northland Venture and Domino, owners of property closer to the intersection of Sixth and Wakarusa, had received $360,000 from the department; the settlement adds $50,000 to that total.
Managing member for Westgate is Tim Fritzel. Duane Schwada is managing member for both Northland Venture and Domino.