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Archive for Thursday, October 18, 2007

Businesses take advantage of city’s sprinkler rebate

75 percent of installation cost returned to downtown companies

October 18, 2007

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New sprinklers for downtown buildings

Fire safety becomes a reality for more downtown Lawrence buildings as a new city program aims to get more sprinklers installed in more properties. Enlarge video

Luke Linnville, a Conley Sprinkler Inc. employee of Kansas City, Kan., puts a sprinkler pipe in place Wednesday at Buffalo Bob's Smokehouse, 719 Mass. The restaurant is taking advantage of a city program that gives rebates of 75 percent of the cost of new fire sprinkler systems.

Luke Linnville, a Conley Sprinkler Inc. employee of Kansas City, Kan., puts a sprinkler pipe in place Wednesday at Buffalo Bob's Smokehouse, 719 Mass. The restaurant is taking advantage of a city program that gives rebates of 75 percent of the cost of new fire sprinkler systems.

When Jim Connelly remodeled his property at 715 Mass., he found evidence of a fire in the past.

"There were some timbers that were charred up above," said Connelly, who owns Silverworks and More.

But now, Connelly feels more confident his building will never see a major fire again. This fall, he had a sprinkler system installed in his two-story building, with help from the city of Lawrence.

"You would be absolutely stupid to turn something down in which the city is giving you a helping hand," Connelly said. "A small business like ours could not afford to do it."

Connelly is the first business owner to take advantage of a city program that will pay 75 percent of the cost to install a sprinkler system in a downtown Lawrence building. In Connelly's case, he'll receive a $21,916 rebate and pay about $7,000 out of his pocket.

"You still have to come up with thousands of dollars on your part of the bargain, but hopefully other property owners will appreciate the fact that you're protected," Connelly said.

It's definitely appreciated two doors down at Buffalo Bob's Smokehouse, where workers are installing a system.

"It's really nice to know," said assistant manager Patrick Arveson. "If it starts at the business next to us, we'll know that they have sprinklers there so we'll be protected, too."

That was the city's goal in launching the program earlier this year: to get more downtown buildings protected from a fire. More than 150 of the 200 downtown buildings don't have sprinkler systems.

"I think we were all reminded about what kind of devastation can occur in a historic downtown by what happened in Fort Scott a few years back," said City Manager David Corliss. "It was a good reminder that it can be pretty devastating to a downtown, and we want to do it to try to prevent that kind of catastrophic fire loss in our downtown."

In 2005, a fire in Fort Scott quickly spread through downtown, destroying about 10 historic buildings and significantly damaging at least another five.

In Lawrence, the plan is to tackle the issue one building at a time. There's $250,000 available for the program in 2007. Of the 35 applications received, the city selected eight businesses to receive the incentive, including Silverworks and More and Buffalo Bob's Smokehouse. Others include Teller's restaurant, Lawrence Masonic Temple, Goldmakers, The Bayleaf, The Casbah and Hobbs.

The properties were selected based on their locations, historical significance and whether they have residences in them. Corliss expects another $250,000 may be available for other interested property owners in 2008.

"The ultimate goal is to get as many properties as possible protected by fire sprinkler systems so that we'll get to enjoy our downtown as we know it for decades to come," Corliss said.

Comments

Nick Combs 7 years, 2 months ago

Glad the vacant Masonic Temple was selected....

Alfred_W 7 years, 2 months ago

Getting sprinklers in the Masonic Temple might actually help get it sold to someone who will put it to use. We can always hope, anyway...

BigPrune 7 years, 2 months ago

What about buildings that had them installed already? Are reimbursements in order at all?

Godot 7 years, 2 months ago

The Masonic Temple deal is unbelievable. The Temple will have to be remodeled, and adding sprinklers will be a requirement. Compton knew that when he bought the building. And, the sprinkler job for the Temple will be the most expensive of all. So, the taxpayers are subsidizing the required modeling of a purely speculative purchase made by one of the richest guys in town. I hope to see my "thank you for helping me out " card in the mail from Compton, and all those downtown building owners, this weekend.

lamb 7 years, 2 months ago

I do not understand why our tax money is going for this. The owners of these buildings are NOT poor. They can afford to do improvements, why should our tax dollars be spent to help improve a building that the owners will be able to sell someday for more money because of the improvements. My kitchen needs improving, do you think the city will kick in for it?

Dominic_Sova 7 years, 2 months ago

I guess I don't understand why sprinklers aren't a requirement.

Godot 7 years, 2 months ago

Dominic, sprinklers are required for new construction and major remodel jobs. Other downtown building owners have already paid for their own sprinkler systems.

Haiku_Cuckoo 7 years, 2 months ago

My kitchen needs improving, do you think the city will kick in for it?

Possibly. The Kansas State Tax Credit has provided funds to many home owners for home improvement projects. A guy on E.19th recently received a $90k grant to make improvements on his home. The dollars are out there; it's up to you to find them.

toefungus 7 years, 2 months ago

I wonder if the addition of the sprinklers will raise the tax assessment on the properties? Watch next year to see.

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