Advertisement

Archive for Saturday, September 22, 2007

Growing Manhattan attracts Lawrence economic leaders’ attention

Manhattan is doing what Lawrence is talking about when it comes to development. The town of about 50,000 residents and home to Kansas University's in-state rival Kansas State University has a number of economic development initiatives under way. Of particular interest to Lawrence is the $190 million development that is downtown and near the mall, in photo at center right. Best Buy is among several retailers that have moved into the new retail area.

Manhattan is doing what Lawrence is talking about when it comes to development. The town of about 50,000 residents and home to Kansas University's in-state rival Kansas State University has a number of economic development initiatives under way. Of particular interest to Lawrence is the $190 million development that is downtown and near the mall, in photo at center right. Best Buy is among several retailers that have moved into the new retail area.

September 22, 2007

Advertisement

Javier Galaviz, front, and Satanas Salcido cut through concrete Wednesday near Manhattan's downtown mall. The development includes 250,000 square feet of retail space and 180 apartments and condos. Manhattan leaders hope the development entices consumers to shop downtown.

Javier Galaviz, front, and Satanas Salcido cut through concrete Wednesday near Manhattan's downtown mall. The development includes 250,000 square feet of retail space and 180 apartments and condos. Manhattan leaders hope the development entices consumers to shop downtown.

Jose Lujano of Hilton Plaster Co. in Wichita works on a developing building Wednesday in Manhattan's downtown.

Jose Lujano of Hilton Plaster Co. in Wichita works on a developing building Wednesday in Manhattan's downtown.

Diane Stoddard discusses Manhattan versus Lawrence.

Diane Stoddard discusses Manhattan versus Lawrence.

The conversation sounds familiar.

A university community on the Kaw looks to expand its downtown. It seeks to add new recreation complexes through a sales tax. And community leaders tout the need for new funding to boost economic development.

It is a conversation that can be heard often at Lawrence City Hall. But Lawrence leaders aren't blazing a new path with their discussions. In many ways they're following a trail already pounded out by Manhattan.

That's right, a Jayhawk following a Wildcat. Manhattan leaders already have discussed all this. They're now past the talking stage and into the doing. For example:

¢ In Manhattan, construction work is under way on a $190 million public-private partnership to build retail, residences and a destination-driver Flinthills Discovery Center on the southern and northern edges of downtown. In Lawrence, leaders are in a multiyear discussion about whether to build a library that would be part of a public-private partnership to redevelop Vermont Street.

¢ In Manhattan, voters will go to the polls in November to determine whether to pass a new quarter-percent sales tax to fund an indoor swimming pool, improvements to the city's zoo and other recreation-oriented projects. In Lawrence, leaders are stalled on the idea of whether to put on the ballot an idea dubbed PLAY - Partners for Lawrence Athletics and Youth - that would build recreation facilities.

¢ In Manhattan, voters in 2002 approved a half-percent sales tax devoted to road repair and economic development funding. In Lawrence, city commissioners have discussed for more than a year - but taken no action yet - on a sales tax proposal that would be geared toward streets and economic development.

Lawrence leaders have noticed what's been going on in Manhattan.

"The big difference between Lawrence and Manhattan has always been the location," Lawrence Mayor Sue Hack said. "Manhattan has probably had to work a little bit harder because of its location. They're not right on the interstate, they're not right between two cities.

"Our location always has blessed us, but, you know, it may not be serving us well now because I think it has made us a bit complacent. We've been patting ourselves on the back for too long saying what a great place this is. It is a great place, but we can't just pat ourselves on the back."

Downtown designs

Lawrence leaders are particularly interested in what Manhattan - a town of about 50,000 people - is doing with its downtown. Just north of Manhattan's downtown mall, construction work has begun on a retail and residential project that will add 250,000 square feet of retail space, and about 180 apartments and condos. The project is about 70 percent leased, with Best Buy and McAlister's Deli already in place, and Office Max, Bed Bath and Beyond, Petco and possibly a Hy-Vee Food and Drug Store on the way.

South of the mall, city leaders have bought property for an 18,000-square-foot Flinthills Discovery Center, which is envisioned to be a museum and interactive visitors center for tourists exploring the prairie. The center would be operated by the city, and projections call for about 100,000 visitors a year.

Next to the Flinthills building would be a new hotel, a 30,000-square-foot conference center, and a 400-space parking garage.

In total, Jason Hilgers, Manhattan's assistant city manager, estimated that the development would generate at least an additional $60 million in sales tax during the next 20 years. He said community leaders have backed the project, in part, because they sensed it was needed to ensure downtown remains the city's retail center.

"When Target and Home Depot came to the city, they located on the west side of town," Hilgers said. "I think people began to realize that a lot of retailers may come to town and decide to locate in greenfield areas far from our downtown.

"The community took the reigns and said we want them near our downtown."

Taking a chance

The Manhattan project will require about $85 million in public money, with the rest coming from the private development group Dial Realty. That's the type of number that can make City Hall leaders swallow hard. But Manhattan found a way to make the bite a little easier.

About $50 million of the $85 million total is essentially state money. It will come in the way of STAR bonds. The STAR bonds allow the city to keep - for about the next decade - the 5.3 percent sales tax that is charged to consumers in new retail areas. Usually that 5.3 percent tax belongs to the state.

The STAR bond money, though, must be used to build a public attraction that is likely to draw visitors from outside the state. Manhattan plans to use the STAR bond money to build much of the Flinthills Discovery Center.

The idea of using state money for redevelopment definitely has caught Lawrence city commissioners' attention. Two weeks ago, city commissioners directed staff members to begin researching how Lawrence could apply for STAR bonds. Although a plan hasn't surfaced, commissioners have suggested that an attraction related to the area's Civil War history could be used to qualify for the STAR bonds.

Lawrence City Manager David Corliss is pushing for more information on the STAR bonds, which also have been used by Topeka, Hutchinson and Wyandotte County.

"I think one of the things we don't do enough of sometimes is recognize that there are a lot of other peer communities out there that we can learn from," Corliss said. "But I think we're beginning to do that. I think this commission is saying that we're going to get stuff moving."

Lawrence lessons

Mayor Hack agrees. But that doesn't mean Lawrence wants to do exactly what Manhattan has done. Hack said she thinks any redevelopment of Downtown Lawrence should have a heavier emphasis on residential units than what Manhattan has done. She also said more office space is needed to get additional workers downtown.

"I think we have to reorient our thinking," Hack said. "I don't think it is all about providing more retail. I think it is about providing more avenues for people to be downtown.

"If we create a critical mass of people, the retailers will follow."

One idea that Hack hopes Lawrence citizens do take from Manhattan almost verbatim is a sales tax to support economic development. Manhattan's sales tax is playing a major role as it competes to become the home of the National Agro- and Bio-Defense Facility, a federal laboratory that is viewed as a bioscience plum for the community that lands it.

Manhattan city leaders have committed to use the economic development sales tax to provide $5 million in incentives for the project. Hack said Lawrence would be hard pressed to put together such a package today if it were competing for a similar project.

"We would just have to borrow the money," Hack said. "We don't have the revenue stream to allow us to compete at that level, and that is incredibly disconcerting to me. We need to step up to the plate.

Advice from Manhattan

Manhattan leaders said one thing that shouldn't be disconcerting to Lawrence residents is all the talk and relatively little action. Lyle Butler, Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce president, said that's how it was in Manhattan for a number of years. He said the community has been talking about the downtown redevelopment project since summer 2001.

The Manhattan chamber took the bull by the horns. Butler and a local architect went to 31 different groups in Manhattan asking what they would do with the downtown if "money was no object."

Butler and the architect came back with 41 renditions. Ultimately, they boiled it down to one plan that was submitted to city planners and commissioners.

"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."

That's not to say the idea has been universally loved. There's a lot of debate in Manhattan about whether the intent of the plan is being followed. Also, early on, the city had to use eminent domain to purchase six properties for the project. That was controversial. Several downtown retailers, when approached last week, also said they were apprehensive about the project.

But Butler said Manhattan has a history of leaders who continue to work on projects even when times get a bit turbulent. He cited the building of the downtown mall in 1992, which today is a thriving enterprise with a JCPenney, a Dillard's, a Sears and about 45 other shops. Back then, though, it was extremely controversial.

"From visitors, we hear all the time about how much foresight we had to put a mall in downtown," Butler said. "People say we were really thinking. But I can tell you by looking at the newspaper articles that city commissioners lost their seats, people lost jobs over that.

"I guess the lesson is that sometimes undertaking these big projects is not politically easy, but they sure can pay off."

Comments

jmadison 7 years, 3 months ago

2007 Lawrence KS city budget $137,536,566 2006 Manhattan KS city budget $73,044,567

ASBESTOS 7 years, 3 months ago

It is also revealing that Jason Hilgers, "a city leader" is takling to the LJWORLD and the people of the City of Lawrence, but are NOT TALKING with the CITIZENS of MANHATTAN!!!!

ProudestMonkey 7 years, 3 months ago

If I was a "right_thinker" or a "cowboy" manhattan would be perfect for me...but alas, I'm not.

nobody1793 7 years, 3 months ago

Best Buy? Target? PetCo? Hy-Vee? Indoor Pool? BFD. So basically Manhattan is catching up to where Lawrence was 10 years ago, and it's magically called leadership? Question is, how many Wal-Marts do they have? Huh? Huh?

Steve Jacob 7 years, 3 months ago

I should be reminded that places like Cal. went is a bad recession if the early 90's due to cutbacks in milatary bases after the cold war.

janeyb 7 years, 3 months ago

Manhattan has Fort Riley and soldiers being assigned there by the thousands. Where do these military people along with the KSU students shop and hang out? Manhattan or Junction City? I think, unless one is looking for a special kind of entertainment, Manhattan. Lawrence shoppers can go to Wyandotte Co., Johnson Co. or Shawnee Co. Much more competition. Topeka is widening Croco Road to five lanes from 6th to 45th. It appears Southeast Shawnee County is starting to develop now, so even more competition.

lunacydetector 7 years, 3 months ago

lawrence's ideas suck. we used to be the leaders.

i wonder what the sales tax rate will be in manhattan if the voters approve the new proposed hike and how will it compare to lawrence's proposed sales tax rate hike? kinda surprised the article failed to mention it.

Michael Capra 7 years, 3 months ago

oh come on we have planners that will say no at any cost to anything that pops up fire all of them and start fresh and we might have a chance

Sean Livingstone 7 years, 3 months ago

K-State and KU have different attitudes. One is buried inland so doesn't have the advantage like KU and Lawrence. Yet, we thought we had it all in Lawrence. Wake up folks, we gotta compete with other better cities!

toefungus 7 years, 3 months ago

As I said earlier, KSU will eclipse KU in a decade.

Jean1183 7 years, 3 months ago

Uh............don't you think that the Big Red One returning to Ft. Riley has some influence?

Yes, business in booming in Manhattan and Junction City.

Jean1183 7 years, 3 months ago

http://www.kstatecollegian.com/home/index.cfm?event=displayArticle&ustory_id=acaf88ee-d694-419f-af73-02640ab62ddb

The above link to an article that states 14,000 soldiers and their families will be returning to the Mahattan area over a 5 year period............starting in 2006.

Lawrence is declining in population according to the census that city leaders want to contest...ha!

Kaw Pickinton 7 years, 3 months ago

That best buy would look great where the World Co HQ is now. After the real estate deal World Co could move to Manhattan!

oldgoof 7 years, 3 months ago

Where is ASBESTOS??? He is a Manhattan expert, with many opinions about what is going on over there.

skinny 7 years, 3 months ago

The government should not be in the business of making money in the name of economic development!

The City of Manhattan took these people's property and then gave/sold it to these companies in order to develop it. The people who owned this property were screwed.

I don't even want our city government to even think about this, PERIOD!

Our city leaders were put in office to run this city. Not take property from its citizens and screw them. Then turn around and let the big companies make money from the screwed property owners!!

monkeyhawk 7 years, 3 months ago

http://www.demographia.com/d-amerdr.htm

"Downtown Revitalization: A common theme among anti-suburbanists is an interest in downtown revitalization. Privately financed efforts of organizations like St. Louis 2004 are commendable, and St. Louis is fortunate to have such a committed and involved private sector.

In what might be considered the "Disneyfication" of downtown, the nation's central business districts are increasingly becoming tax supported regional amusement centers. But downtowns are no more deserving of public investment than any other part of the urban area, and they generally are already the recipients of inordinate subsidies. Favored treatment is not appropriate for anywhere --- downtown or suburban."

There was a great woman in KCK who had a vision and the courage to carry it out. We do not have that in Lawrence. We have a former cc that regulated our city to death in the name of "smart growth". Lawrence is now in dire straits financially, yet the current cc wants to push tax increases in the name of a new "library", which has always been the disguise for downtown development.

"In total, Jason Hilgers, Manhattan's assistant city manager, estimated that the development would generate at least an additional $60 million in sales tax during the next 20 years." What kind of ROI can we expect from a "library"?

Until the city shows that they are willing to make their own sacrifices, build up the general fund, and come up with something that will generate real money (not more freebies), I believe they will have an uphill battle to get what they want.

cowboy 7 years, 3 months ago

My daughter goes to KSU and we go down quite often , a few things you notice immediately is the city is cleaner , not as many " hippie lawns" , there are roads that go around the city , you can get around really quick , no bums , a nice smaller mall and really nice people and good service in the restaurants .

Its actually a lot nicer than Lawrence which has become conjested , constrained and looks kind of trashy both in the old and new neighborhoods.

KsTwister 7 years, 3 months ago

Five years ago Lawrence had money for streets and development. Your wonderful city commission not only spent what they had and it wasn't enough so they borrowed against today budget. Manhattan though it out first, their geographical layout is better too. Lawrence is between a hard rock and the river in regard to its leadership and it geography. And to add more pain to injury they want a sales tax ---the very thing that other cities are coming up short in their budgets. Things like the "T" not only took the high taxes on property, those buses are responsible for tearing up streets --just check the route to their garage(smaller and fewer buses would have been sufficient). Now the city is full of overvalued homes that won't sell for what we have been paying. Until Lawrence can budget its city funds the citizens who live here are voting a resounding NO to anything they dream up------and it not just my word on the subject. I suggest a phone call every taxpayer in the city to take a real poll.

booze_buds_03 7 years, 3 months ago

I really like the one sided reporting of the ljworld. I did not read anywhere in the article the large amount of oppostion that Manhattan's downtown redevelopment is creating. The vision and purpose was originally quaint walking districts with smaller, some local shops. Now it has turned into a corporate based wanamaker blvd.

Also regarding the post and the article which talk about residential growth. Agnostick incorrectly refers to a "massive" housing shortage. Because of the uncertainty of the return date of many US soldiers to Ft Riley, many surrounding cities are being "overbuilt" and houses are sitting empty. http://www.themercury.com/news/article.aspx?articleId=ecaec14dec2246eb859bccf9a9ea2c2c

Here is a map showing recent construction and the number of unoccupied units. http://www.themercury.com/news/article.aspx?articleId=ecaec14dec2246eb859bccf9a9ea2c2c Does not look like a massive shortage to me. This is straight from their local govt and newspaper.

kugrad 7 years, 3 months ago

I grew up in Manhattan and visit my folks there all the time. Let's straighten a few things up. In Manhatta, the mall KILLED the downtown, which now boasts NONE of the local restaurants that flourished there, and almost none of the local businesses, although there are still a very few locally owned businesses in niche markets down there. NOT ONE local business made the transition into the mall, which blocked off one end of what used to be the main street of town. POOR urban planning caused huge expenditures on the other side of the highway from the "new development area" shown in the picture. Almost all off the "new" area became available through 2 events. 1) The mall killed the local business on the 3rd street corridor. This area used to thrive. and 2) The steel and pipe company that took up most of the east side of 3rd street went out of business. This is not some huge success of brilliant urban design; this was relatively cheap land up for grabs. The entire central section of Manhattan is in serious decline. This area, marked by the University on the west, 3rd street on the east, Ratone on the north, and Poyntz (or even Yuma) on the South IS Manhattan (along with the neighborhood east of City Park). I mean, this is the core of the town, the historic district. Instead of protecting their historic districts, Manhattan allowed developers to tear down historic homes and build lots of cheap apartment buildings. Now heavily overbuilt, the area has not enough parking for the residents. The entire area, once the equivalent of Old West Lawrence, Barker, and the nice neighborhoods around Central Jr. High, is now an area of decline. Manhattan should be an example of what NOT to do when it comes to development. No vision, poor planning, and the best parts of a great town ruined.

deec 7 years, 3 months ago

Somehow the math never makes sense to me in these sorts of deals. The public spends 85 million dollars now for a possible payback of 60 million dollars over 20 years. How is this a good thing for the taxpayers of Kansas? Additionally the STAR bonds used in KCK have done nothing to help the majority of the residents of KCK and Wyandotte county. Drive around east of 78th street to the state line sometime. All the develpment has done is drive housing prices and property taxes up with no increase in services. Oh yeah and provided a bunch of low-wage service jobs. If you live in the eastern half of the county plenty of low wage service jobs were and are much closer in Johnson county and North KC.

jumpin_catfish 7 years, 3 months ago

Cool said: we want healthy growth

Healthy growth = no growth in the minds of many who want Lawrence to stay like its always been. I've heard people say that very thing "I want Lawrence to be like it use to be, I'll even pay more in taxes to keep it that way". Well thanks for volunteering to give my money away but no thanks. Nothing stays the same forever, so city commissioners grow that tax base, grow!

sourpuss 7 years, 3 months ago

I don't care if Lawrence grows, personally, so I'm more than happy those yahoos are moving to Manhattan. Doesn't bother me. Of course, I liked Lawrence more in the 70s, so a few people could move away and I'd be fine with that. And no, I don't care about business owners or property values (we've been in the same house for 30 years, we don't use real estate as an investment, it is a place to LIVE - I know, news to some). I like peace, quiet, interesting people, a safe environment, and pretty, tree-lined streets (not big-box lined throughways).

That being said, the people who run this town don't have any idea what they are doing half the time, it seems, but the people pick 'em.

ASBESTOS 7 years, 3 months ago

KUGRAD is correct, the Downtown Center did kill off the downtown. The same line of bull*** is being pushed forward again as perfume. Except this time they gave the developer the reigns. DIAL Corp., does not care about long term growth, and this developement of "North End" and "South End" is not going well. Dial Corp. cannot and is not delivering the business and leases theypromised. Yet they still want to build a damn building! 30 retailers and 20 resturants rejected Dial offers to move into the "north end".

The "North End" was supposed to be the "magnet" and "Anchor" of the entire development. The purpose was to make Manhattan a "regional shopping destination". Well all the "national retailers" fell through, DIAL corp. now wants to "anchor" the developement with a Hy-Vee. Not quite a regional magenet for shopping. The stoire footprint now is being changed to 80,000+ sq. ft.. This is so DIAL Corp. and the City Commissioners can say that the north end is "70% occcupied", before the "southe end" can be started. The Southe End is where the new COnventin Center and hotel and Flint Hills Discovery place will be. SO that is the gravy for the developer.

There are big rumblings amongst the citixens of Manhattan in opposition to this. The reason the City of Manhattan rushed forward with this? The State passed the EMMINENT DOMAIN statute, which was passed to prevent this very thing.

There should be some people on the City Commission in JAIL! There has been multiple KMOA violatins and es parte communications. Hell the revenue and bonds are all based on projections of business that are not vcoming nor will they fill these buildings.

It is development for development sake.

Kookamooka 7 years, 3 months ago

I've noticed more Lawrence High and Free State kids choosing K-State over KU. That might say something, too. Interestingly enough, K-State's presence in Olathe is making KU nervous. I heard, through the grapevine, that the JoCo History museum wants to collaborate with K-State on a Suburban Studies Institute. That is so cool! KU would never even consider such an idea. K-State is just broadminded enough to forge ahead of the trend. It's innovation that will save the day. NOT developers.

smot 7 years, 3 months ago

I love reading the comments on the LJ World website after articles like this...it is an opportunity to hear the musings of the drug infested minds of the 60's flower children and their inability to see where their thinking has led them. Lawrence has been burdened with people that believe that if they dig their heels in hard enough that it can be 1970 again. Lawrence has to grow or it will die...the developers will go away if and when no one purchases their products anymore. This community needs leaders who are willing to stand up to the far left and entice companies that will bring in meaningful and high paying jobs. Lawrence is going to have to live with some less desirable businesses as it moves forward.

deec 7 years, 3 months ago

"It is because KSU works for those kids. KU has historically just assumed eastern Kansas kids would show up and thus treats them like cattle.." I tend to agree with this person (first time for everything...). When my daughter was applying to schools, KU offered her the least financial assistance, Ft. Hays the most. K-State was somewhere in the middle. My daughter was valedictorian of her class at Wyandotte High, an active participant in school activities, had a 4.0 GPA, etc. Additionally, the majority of the growth in the regents' system has been at Ft. Hays State. According to an article in the newspaper here, about 70% of the growth in the regents system in terms of 20th day enrollment was at Ft. Hays.

ASBESTOS 7 years, 3 months ago

Hmmmm, college attendance growth is fueled by the LOWER COST of tuition and the LOWER COSTS of housing. Could be a lesson there. Remember the free market? Yes, I know all the research money and the issues of "prestige", but that falls away to economic reality, and the reality is that FHSU diploma of B.S. is just as valuable as any other B.S. diploma, unless of course you are interviewing with an alum. ANy other companies or entities are not going to care WHERE you got a particular degree, just that you were able to attain the requirements of one. That is why we have accredited programs, to make them similar. They may not be equal, but may be similar.

The regents institutions should pay attention to the costs of students. After all, that is the PRIMARY purpose of an institution of higher learning, the education of today's students and tomorrow's scholars. It is not in research, or other issues. THe FHSU enrollment increases are proof of that.

Godot 7 years, 3 months ago

"The idea of using state money for redevelopment definitely has caught Lawrence city commissioners' attention. Two weeks ago, city commissioners directed staff members to begin researching how Lawrence could apply for STAR bonds. Although a plan hasn't surfaced, commissioners have suggested that an attraction related to the area's Civil War history could be used to qualify for the STAR bonds."

But, but, but, I thought the children needed a new library! Now we need a Civil War history museum instead? Or, is that another taxpayer funded boondoggle added to the list?

..

Bruce Bertsch 7 years, 3 months ago

Lets get something straight. KUGrad is absolutely correct. This should be called the "Lets kill downtown Manhattan Project." What wasn't killed off by the mall, will be with this fiasco. And Manhattan is cleaner? Get real. This is just more typical anti-KU, anti Lawrence, pro developer crap being dumped upon us by Dolph and the World Co folks.

BTW, outside of Kansas there is a HUGE difference in where you got your degree. Try going east of the Mississippi with a FHSU or Pitt State BS and finding something besides laughter. Even KU and KSU are not taken seriously althought masters and doctorates are. And if you happen to venture to NY without an Ivy education, or a NY education good luck.

Godot 7 years, 3 months ago

Dear City Leaders: The State of Kansas is facing a financial time bomb with the underfunding of KPERS, the medicaid problem, crumbling infrastructure and a graying population. Please do not go after this "free money" in the form of STAR bonds that will simply add to the sales tax shortfall.

Just because the bonds were made available by a foolish legislature does not mean that Lawrence should foolishly make up an excuse to use them.

Godot 7 years, 3 months ago

What else should we expect after the commission hires away Manhattan's assistant city manager to be Lawrence's second assistant city manager?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

"I love reading the comments on the LJ World website after articles like this:it is an opportunity to hear the musings of the drug infested minds of the 60's flower children and their inability to see where their thinking has led them. Lawrence has been burdened with people that believe that if they dig their heels in hard enough that it can be 1970 again. Lawrence has to grow or it will die:the developers will go away if and when no one purchases their products anymore. This community needs leaders who are willing to stand up to the far left and entice companies that will bring in meaningful and high paying jobs. Lawrence is going to have to live with some less desirable businesses as it moves forward."

This has to be the most concentrated example of the ad hominem attacks and unsupported, ideologically based and self-serving assertions that typifies "developer logic."

Kinda funny that all the adoration of Manhattan here neglects to take into account that its population, 50,000, is about what Lawrence was in 1980. If growth is so immutably good, shouldn't Lawrence be at least twice as good as Manhattan, in any and every measure?

Jackson 7 years, 3 months ago

All businesses in Lawrence would greatly benefit if the City Comission had the fortitude to eliminate the flawed 1965 Zoning ordinance that has allowed Single Family zoned neighborhoods to be turned into the "business" of student rentals.

Student rentals (in SF zoned neighborhoods) have caused several thousand families to move to Eudora & other surrounding communities.

Students should be housed in apartments (MF zoning) - not Single Family neighborhoods.

This flawed zoning has "killed" central Lawrence, turning much of it into a rental slum.

kugrad 7 years, 3 months ago

Rightthinker, the Hibachi Hut is a longtime Aggieville restaurant, not a downtown restaurant. I grew up in Manhattan, I think I know my way around the city. Manhattan is not a city to use for a model of economic development. Turning thriving business areas into areas of blight that sit for 10-20 years and are then developed into big box areas is not good city planning.

Agnostic - the Wal Mart was not built where it is because of the county issue so much as the City wanted it there. I think Wal Mart wanted to be there all along, they were, after all, just moving their store a couple hundred yards north into a bigger space. The issue that held it up was related to proximity to a water treatment plant, and that was solved by having a special sales tax that only applies to Wal Mart that they pay to the city.

Godot 7 years, 3 months ago

I see the same lines connecting those dots, DD.

Anyone want to bet that the entire west side of Mass, between 10th & 11th, becomes a Civil War History destination, with the Douglas County Museum and Masonic Lodge as bookends? And that it is subsidized with public funds?

ihatelv 7 years, 3 months ago

I lived in Manhattan for 6 years, and then Lawrence for 2 and couldn't get out fast enough. The mentality of posters on here is the reason why. You can keep you hippie mentality in Lawrence..., I'm still in Lawrence about once a week, and I try to spend as little money there as possible.. I hope you continue to go down the drain.. (not the one in your shower, the one your crap goes through in your toilet)

Godot 7 years, 3 months ago

DevelopmentallyDisabled, I have no idea whether there is a plan like that afoot. I just inferred the possibility from the article and what I know about Lawrence,

It is logical considering the way things happen in this community, the JW prints an off the cuff comment by a "city leader" about a new idea they are throwing around, then we learn later on that there have been serious discussions, possibly even research into the idea, and that it is basically a done deal. This is their method of getting us used to the idea, testing the waters of public opinion.

First off, the entire downtown has been designated an historic district. That makes lots of Federal and State money available for rehabilitation of "contributing" historic buildings.

Compton owns several of the buildings on that side of the street, including the Masonic Lodge, which was declared a "contributing" historic building, that could be restored and transformed into a public meeting place or theater. At the other end of the block is the Douglas County Historical museum, which would be a natural starting point for any civil war history edutainment venue.

Some of the other buildings on that side of the block are in disrepair, and the businesses in them are not thriving. I doubt they would refuse to sell if the price was right. Nevertheless, when STAR bonds or TIF are involved, eminent domain can, has been and will be used.

A Civil War History venue might be a good thing, as long as it were developed with private money, in my opinion. But developers like Compton, Fritzel and Schmalberg don't do things that way. They buy properties, and then somehow find a way to get the taxpayers to pick up the tab for developing them, for example, through Star bonds or TIF (tax increment financing).

Of course, this is just my sheer speculation, wasting time on a Sunday afternoon.

davisnin 7 years, 3 months ago

Pilgrim " 2007 Lawrence KS city budget $137,536,566 2006 Manhattan KS city budget $73,044,567

Gee, you don't suppose that has anything to do with all the warm and gooey, let's make us feel good about ourselves, superfluous spending Lawrence is expected to endure from the liberals in this city? Hmmmmmmmmm?"

Are the liberals running the city now? Or is the commission 4 to 1 purchased by Fritzel and Compton just like it was 7 years ago? Why didn't they tighten up that budget? Why are they pushing for a sales tax hike? Has any of the suburban big box sprawl lowered your taxes or increased city services? Has the strategy of looking to different cities with entirely different circumstances for economic development plans done a damn thing to add jobs with decent pay?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

"2007 Lawrence KS city budget $137,536,566 2006 Manhattan KS city budget $73,044,567"

That figures out to be almost identical per capita spending in each city. Exactly what does that prove?

Godot 7 years, 3 months ago

I, personally, think this Civil War Historic District is a distinct possibility. It has the potential to be more lucrative than an expanded public library with meeting space.

Let us vision here on this forum. No need for a retreat to an upscale resort of the sort favored by our commissioners who hope that their luxurious seclusion will release their constipated muses; let us create our vision in virtual reality. Let us open this up to the entire JW community to determine what will save downtown, thereby saving Lawrence, at least in the world in which our "city leaders" live.

*I, personally, do not feel it is the charge of the city commission to "save downtown." I feel it is the charge of the commission to serve the entire community.

Nevertheless, dream on.

Sigmund 7 years, 3 months ago

Lawrence is not all that similar to Manhattan other than the superficial characteristics of "Kansas college town." There is no guarantee that the project in Manhattan will be successful in addressing that communities particular needs. A massive retail/residential/prairie museum development in Manhattan may make sense given a lack of alternatives in the area, but it is an answer to a problem Lawrence just doesn't have. Lawrence should not be so quick to follow their example, especially if we don't have their problems or even know how it will turn out.

Also not helpful is a comparison between the per capita rate of taxation or spending. The per capita rate of spending isn't nearly as important as how productive that spending is at addressing a communities particular issues. For instance, just how productive is spending $1.5 million each year on an empty bus system compared to the alternative use of that resource; how productive were the legal fees paid to fight WalMart; or how productive were the consulting fees; or how necessary were the number of roundabouts that sprouted like mushrooms? Would those resources have been better spent on a Library expansion or fixing potholes and sidewalks?

The issue in Lawrence has never been about a lack of resources, or retailers willing to open stores, or landlords willing to build. It is how we leverage what we have and the priorities given to meet our needs. What is most disturbing is the simplemindedness of this and past Commissions to expect simple cookie cutter answers to Lawrence's challenges from the example of other communities.

There is one thing that Manhattan appears to have that Lawrence doesn't. Leadership willing to address their unique problems with their own solutions. There is little if any original thought here in Lawrence when the big debate is "are we turning into Topeka or Johnson County" or "do we want to follow Manhattan or Portland." It is very disheartening.

nascar24 7 years, 3 months ago

If I remember correctly I thought the city had big plans for the River Front Mall down town that we had a tax increase for that is no longer a mall. Then their is the other attempt for the Tanger Mall to revitalize North Lawrence that again we had a tax increase for that is no longer a mall either. I think the city needs to steer clear of Malls, and focus on jobs to bring in income to support all this shopping that no one can afford.

lelly 7 years, 3 months ago

I am, once again, deeply disappointed in the LJW. My only hope is that readers remember every article in this paper (or any for that matter) should be digested with the following questions in mind: Who gains from the information as presented? Why is this article here, now? What are we supposed to believe after reading this article? Is this a fair representation of a complicated issue?

snowWI 7 years, 3 months ago

Also, Lawrence has quite a few areas of floodplain compared with much of Manhattan. Manhattan has the Tuttle Creek that includes a reservoir. Both Riley and Pottawatomie counties are included in the Manhattan area. Lawrence should find a way to create jobs without having to develop any of the floodplain areas that would cost the taxpayers huge $$$ to pay for infrastructure and other associated costs.

jessie 7 years, 3 months ago

Let me preface this by saying, I want Manhattan's development to work because I live in Manhattan. Particularly, I want the downtown to thrive. But Manhattan has been rushing through the process to try to avoid issues with the new eminent domain law and also trying to get those STAR bonds at any cost. So they rushed and put a lot of existing shops out of business without, it seems a firm plan on what was going in.

Manhattan city government hasn't handled this downtown redevelopment well at all. It seems the contract they signed with the developer was more like a deal with the devil. The city has little control over who Dial brings in to the redevelopment area. Apparently many retailers who were interested in coming to Manhattan are no longer interested.

Now in the quest to get those STAR bonds for the next stage of development, the city is poised to let Dial tweak the plan. To meet that 70% leased goal, Dial is bringing a huge Hyvee in, smack dab in the middle of an area that already contains 4 grocery stores. This is instead of the regional draw pedestrian friendly type retail that was promoted by the city and Dial, and eliminates much of the residential property that was promised. An historic building that was supposed to be saved would also likely be lost. But hey, Dial meets the 70% goal.

Lawrence would be crazy to emulate Manhattan's handling of this plan or in the recent overbuilding for the potential growth of Ft. Riley (a good portion of which has been in areas that flooded this spring/ summer by the way).

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

A new assistant City Manager was hired from Manhattan which stimulated this article. No Lawrence residents need not panic over anything that was printed in the article. Lawrence real estate community created whatever problems Lawrence may be experiencing. Soon Manhattan and Eudora will be in the same situation. Local developers are the answer.

Lawrence needs to quit looking at shopping. We're overloaded in retail and housing. Green Collar Employment covers a broad spectrum and SHOULD be the focus . Part of this task is educating the public the LJW and leaders. Green Collar employment should address several issues than are of concern locally.

http://www.tompaine.com/articles/2007/01/23/creating_greencollar_jobs.php

http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0125/p13s01-sten.html

http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?ID=1551

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 which 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! 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...

http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?ID=1551

http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=Green-Collar+Jobs+for+Urban+America&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 \

monkeyhawk 7 years, 3 months ago

"No Lawrence residents need not panic over anything that was printed in the article."

"Part of this task is educating the public the LJW and leaders. Green Collar employment should address several issues than are of concern locally."

The great one has spoken. I feel so much better now. We all be chillin.

If we leave things up to the merrillites, we will have what we have now, only worse. Socialism, as advocated by the great ones, yeah, that's the way to go.

davisnin: "Are the liberals running the city now? Or is the commission 4 to 1 purchased by Fritzel and Compton just like it was 7 years ago?"

LJW July 30, 2006

"In 2004, Lawrence had 29.1 percent of its general fund in such accounts. That was the fourth-highest percentage of the cities analyzed. It was well below Iowa City, which topped the list at 48 percent, and well above the 12 percent held by Norman. The average for the seven cities was 28.8 percent.

Lawrence, though, has tapped into its fund balances rather significantly since 2004. If commissioners approve the proposed 2007 budget, fund balance levels will be at 18 percent. Interim City Manager David Corliss has cautioned commissioners to not let the fund fall much lower than that."

THAT is the big difference. When the progressives had their power, our money disappeared. I wonder if Lawrence has ever been this broke?

snowWI 7 years, 3 months ago

Yes, make the developers PAY their own way if they want to put that industry near the airport. The taxpayers do not need to pay the costs when the job guarantees are not their yet. The other business parks have way to much vacancy and the other malls in north Lawrence have failed. Besides, why are the landowners so DESPERATE for economic development in the floodplain. Use some common sense.

Kristen Murphy 7 years, 3 months ago

"Agnostick (Anonymous) says:

kugrad, it could be that it was indeed Target that the neighborhood groups were raising a fuss about-but I thought it was WalMart. Me? I'm just glad we have a Target nearby. :)

-Ag"

Agnostick - it was Wal-Mart the west side was making a fuss about. They didn't want Wal-Mart building over on the west side (much like the west side residents of Lawrence). They were also getting worked up about the Target being a "Super Target". Which was a big mistake - there were 2 Dillons locations in Manhattan - the east side Dillons had to lower their prices when the Wal-Mart Supercenter went in - however the west side Dillons didn't have to because Target wasn't a Super Target. Honestly - the Target in Manhattan is tiny. If they were smart - they would have made it a Super Target. I lived in Manhattan for 6 years and honestly - I loved every minute of it and I'm jealous of all the development that went in. I'm all for local business, but what keeps people in a town like Manhattan (ie: middle of nowhere), is big development. Which is very sad.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.