City commissioners will debate taxes and traffic tonight as part of a proposed shopping center development at Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive.
Commissioners previously have given many of the approvals needed for the Bauer Farm development at the northeast corner of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive. But now, developers want commissioners to consider creating a special taxing district for the project.
The development group, which includes local architect Michael Treanor, is seeking a Transportation Development District, which would allow retailers in the shopping center to charge an extra 1 percent sales tax. The proceeds from the extra sales tax - estimated to be $4.6 million during a 22-year period - would be used to pay for public infrastructure improvements, such as streets and sidewalks. If approved, it could potentially be the second area in the city where shoppers would pay a higher-than-normal sales tax. Developers with the Oread Inn hotel project also have requested a Transportation Development District.
Bauer Farm developers propose 72,000 square feet of retail space - including a pharmacy, an auto service business, and several restaurants. The project also includes 71,000 square feet of office space; a 20,000-square-foot performance space potentially for the Lawrence Community Theatre; 96,000 square feet of apartments and other rental units; and about 75 single-family homes. The project is designed in "new urbanism" style aimed to mimic an old-style neighborhood.
Commissioners also will discuss access issues for the project. The project was approved with a right-in only lane off Sixth Street. Developers now want it to become a right-in, right-out lane. The Kansas Department of Transportation has opposed the change, saying it goes against the overall traffic flow plan created for the street and for the Sixth and Wakarusa intersection.
Commissioners meet at 6:35 tonight at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.