Archive for Sunday, October 7, 2007

Homegrown wisdom

Manhattan’s bottom-up approach to downtown redevelopment might suggest a planning strategy for Lawrence.

October 7, 2007


Development in Lawrence should be about what Lawrence wants, not what a developer wants.

That's one of several lessons that can be gleaned from a recent Journal-World article about economic and retail development efforts in Manhattan. There was a lot of talk and little action on downtown redevelopment in Manhattan, said Lyle Butler, president of the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce, until the chamber decided to take a bottom-up approach to the issue.

Butler and a local architect went to 31 different groups in Manhattan and asked them what they would do with downtown if "money was no object." Their conversations fed into 41 renditions of possible improvements. Those ideas were boiled down into one plan that was submitted to city planners and commissioners. Work now is under way on the downtown development plan.

"We wanted to use a different approach," Butler said, "Instead of getting a development group in here that said 'this is what we want to do,' we wanted to go to the community first."

Going "to the community first" might be a good lesson for Lawrence. We've had the habit over the years of letting developers take the lead in how the city grows, especially in the retail sector. Some company tells Lawrence what it wants to do here and we say yea or nay. Lawrence being the town it is, that approach often leads to opposition that stymies new projects. The projects that do move forward often take a piecemeal approach to development that may or may not contribute to the best long-range strategy. An example of that is the project-by-project development that has led to odd and congested traffic patterns in the area of 31st and Iowa streets.

Developers - either from Lawrence or elsewhere - can come up with what they think is the perfect idea for Lawrence. Not coincidentally, those ideas also are what the developers believe will be profitable. But those plans usually represent the vision of the developer, not of the community as a whole.

Development plans in Manhattan have not been without criticism or apprehension, but they are moving forward. One has to think that community buy-in for the project is at least a little stronger because community groups had a role in setting the vision that is being pursued. Perhaps Lawrence should consider following Manhattan's model of inviting the community to dream and then working to try to make at least a few of those dreams come true.


Richard Heckler 10 years, 3 months ago

Parks, NOT superdomes are good for economic growth as are excellent public schools for new industry puts these items on their list when considering locating.

Hobbs-Taylor and Old East Lawrence revitalization are excellent uses of existing resources thus keeping new overhead in check which makes for greater probability of economic growth whereas blind support of any or all new development increases overhead and/or creates economic displacement both of which increases taxes to cover the community tax bill.

Sprawl and developments such as proposed for North Lawrence ignite tax increases which indicates no need.

These polls are merely a reminder of how many polls consistently disagree with the sprawl mentality of this new commission. These polls also indicate the new commission is not on the right track and suggests a vote of no confidence.

No support for tax increase:

Why is Lawrence Lagging?

Downtown is a golden existing resource which would continue to pay back with new investment. Or maintaining the infrastructure.

Old east Lawrence neighborhoods are also treasured existing resources which would continue to pay back with investment which is not mean make it look like west Lawrence. East Lawrence loves the old time charm of the real lap siding and front porches.

Green Collar employment should address several issues than are of concern locally.

Lawrence could use jobs that will sustain our community and take us into the future. Polluting industries cost taxpayers money as the polluter walks away and/or files bankruptcy. Not a good deal in the end. Let's find a new collar for our community over and above white and blue. It is a green collar a color quite appealing to the eye. Small business is good for communities as they keeps dollars in town, pays property taxes and provides new employment. The article below presented this subject in a clear and concise fashion. I believe Lawrence,Kansas should give it serious thought.

Go Local!

Richard Heckler 10 years, 3 months ago

Green-Collar Jobs for Urban America by Van Jones and Ben Wyskida Oakland looks for a greener path toward prosperity

Union electricians hung out with Youth Against Youth Incarceration. A poet parsed words with a permaculturist. Two seniors and a spoken word artist debated the coming election. Community college students communed with a council member, while an architect broke bread with an immigration attorney. On the third Thursday of September 2006, in a college auditorium in Oakland, California, 300 people came together to launch a new movement: a campaign for "green-collar jobs" as a path to economic and social recovery for low-income communities. A "green-collar job" involves environment-friendly products or services. Construction work on a green building, organic farming, solar panel manufacturing, bicycle repair: all are "green jobs." The green-collar economy is big money, and it's booming...


B. C.

nelson_engle 10 years, 3 months ago

Take a look at the archives at Manhattan redevelopment is plagued with problems. The developer hooked Manhattan with promises of stores like Kohl's and is trying to substitute a Hy-Vee. I like Hy-Vee, but Manhattan has a lot of grocery stores, and not much big retail.

classclown 10 years, 3 months ago

Focusing on what Lawrence wants is what got the town in it's current predicament. How about taking the novel approach and focus on what Lawrence needs.

Bruce Bertsch 10 years, 3 months ago

This is more BS from Dolph. The redevelopment is NOT in what people in Manhattan have considered as downtown. It is akin to Lawrence calling 23rd and Louisianna "downtown." Downtown Manhattan died when they put a mall at the end of Poyntz.

Kookamooka 10 years, 3 months ago

What about the design charrette that took place last year. There were tons of stories about it in the ljworld.

Is the person who wrote this letter just not paying attention? Lawrence has been there and done that and the whole story can be found on the pages of this newspaper.

Godot 10 years, 3 months ago

Dolph presents the reason his own proposal will not work:

"Developers - either from Lawrence or elsewhere - can come up with what they think is the perfect idea for Lawrence. Not coincidentally, those ideas also are what the developers believe will be profitable."

Even if the citizens could reach a consensus on the perfect redevelopment plan, developers will not step up to the plate if they cannot make a profit by building this vision. That is where tax increment financing, or some other form of public/private financing, enters the picture. The taxpayers pick up the tab and shoulder the risk, guaranteeing the developers will make their profit, and, no doubt, retain control of the property, to boot.

That is the purpose of editorials and stories like these; it is foreplay for what is going to happen to the citizens of Lawrence when taxpayer funded downtown redevelopment is forced upon us.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 3 months ago

Forget about Manhattan! This is Lawrence. No one moved here because they like Manhattan better.

What is the sales tax rate paid by Manhattan citizens? State of Kansas sales tax = 5.3% Both Riley County/Pottawatomie retail sales tax = 1.0% City of Manhattan sales tax = 1.0% USD 383 sales tax = .25% Total sales tax rate = 7.55%

Wal-Mart Transportation Development District sales tax = .50% Total sales tax rate for Wal-Mart shoppers = 8.05% ========================

We must beware as local Lawrence government may try to BORROW and SPEND as a backdoor means to an end run around taxpayers.

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