Archive for Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Golf course with apartment complex earns approval

February 27, 2008


Lawrence will soon have a new golf course and apartment complex

City Commissioners approved a unique development for Northwest Lawrence to build a new nine-hole golf course that will be surrounded by about 480 apartment units. Enlarge video

Call it a two-for-one deal.

City commissioners at Tuesday evening's meeting approved a project that will add both a new golf course and apartment complex to the northwest area of town.

On a 4-1 vote, commissioners approved the necessary rezonings and development plan for The Links, a project about a half-mile north of Sixth Street and west of Queens Road. The project will feature 480 apartment units built around a nine-hole golf course.

"I think this is a very creative, very interesting project," Mayor Sue Hack said. "I think it is something that we'll look at and be proud of and be happy with once it is built."

Representatives with Arkansas-based Lindsey Management Co. said they hope to break ground on the project - which will be spread over 80 acres of undeveloped farm ground and timber area - by May.

The company has built 32 of the golf and apartment complex projects across the country, and in total has nearly 27,000 apartment units. The company's overall vacancy rate is less than 5 percent.

"We want people to know that this is not our first rodeo," said Kim Fugitt, the project manager for the company. "We're not using Lawrence as our guinea pig."

Fugitt said the company likes to locate in college communities because it allows the project to attract a mix of mature students and retirees to the complex.

The biggest demographic, however, likely will be golf fans. The nine-hole golf course will be open for play without greens fees to any resident of the complex. The course also will be open to the public on a pay-for-play basis.

Fugitt said the company thought now was the right time to pursue the project, despite national and local news about a severe downturn in the housing market.

"One reason the housing market is depressed is that people are having a harder time getting loans," Fugitt said. "But people still need a place to live, and they often turn to the rental market."

Tuesday's discussion did not spark talk among commissioners about whether the Lawrence rental market could handle the 480 new units, which will equate to about 800 bedrooms.

Instead, opposition to the project was based on concerns that city planners were not forcing the project to more strictly follow new regulations designed to protect sensitive lands, such as mature trees and steep slopes. The Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods and the League of Women Voters also expressed concern that the Northwest Area Plan envisioned single family homes for the area, not apartments.

City Commissioner Boog Highberger voted against the project for many of those reasons. But staff members said they believed they were properly enforcing the regulations related to sensitive lands, and said that they were comfortable with apartments because the overall density of the project was no more than would be allowed with single family homes.

The overall density of the project is about six units per acre, but instead of single family homes, there will be 40 apartment buildings spread out over an 80-acre tract.

The majority of commissioners said they thought the apartment buildings would be a better fit because it would make it easier to keep development out of the sensitive land areas, and would do a better job of limiting the amount of impervious surfaces.


countrygirl 10 years, 2 months ago

Isn't there a city owned golf course that can't support itself? Seems that the new development will only put Eagle Bend farther into the hole.

compmd 10 years, 2 months ago

I thought we already had three golf courses...

sdinges 10 years, 2 months ago

This sounds like a very nice addition to Lawrence. I bet that will turn out to be a nice place to live, even for non-golfers.

James Hicks 10 years, 2 months ago

At least they didn't ask for a tax abatement. Lindsey mgmt. has an excellent reputation and has this type of development all over the country.

FatTony 10 years, 2 months ago

Wow, I thought most people on here would say this deal stinks, we already have a golf course etc. Shocking, I guess everyone is on their happy meds this morning.

BigPrune 10 years, 2 months ago

When apartment vacancies are higher than anything else, the solution? Build more apartments. Brilliant.

Mkh 10 years, 2 months ago

I find this ridiculous. Basically they want to create a new Orchards course, which is already a disgrace, but instead of surrounding it with single family homes they will build more tacky apartment buildings.

I agree that at least they didn't ask for a tax abatement.

Looks like another doomed development to me.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 2 months ago

I think once it's built we should shut down the public golf course and sell the land. Why keep it open now?

hornhunter 10 years, 2 months ago

the hawk asked for it and kewl had to post.

May be the commish approved this for the new homeless complex and exercise facility?

OnlyTheOne 10 years, 2 months ago

Good! Now there's no reason to not close Eagle Bend.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 2 months ago

Annexation = tax increase for new infrastructure. Do bedrooms pay for themselves... a city needs more than property tax to survive. Who declared Lawrence a hot new retirement community? Where's the evidence? Empty housing generates no revenue.

Food for thought:

Donovan Scruggs, Ocean Springs director of community development and planning, said the city's current budget. crunch can be tied directly to infrastructure expenses needed to serve new housing developments.

"If residential growth paid for itself and was financially positive, we would not be in a budget crunch," Scruggs said. "But with increased numbers of houses you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by single-family housing does not pay for the services, they require from a municipality."

Scruggs said there have been two studies done on impact fees. One 100-page study was on services for police and fire protection, administration and parks. A second study was done on infrastructure related impacts on roads, water and water.

The current proposal calls for the fees to be collected separately.

"We want. to make sure we tie the fees as closely as possible to when the demand is being generated," Scruggs said. "Water and sewer fees would be collected when the subdivision is constructed. Services more related to occupancy and homes being constructed would be collected later. For example, no one will have a need for a park until there are kids in that neighborhood."

While developers pay for onsite water, sewer and road infrastructure, Scruggs said it is costly to pay for offsite upgrades needed, such as enlarging lift stations and raising water towers.

"Now if we have to upgrade a lift station, it is paid for by the general fund revenue paid by each taxpayer in the city," Scruggs said. "Someone on the west side of town would have to pay for subsidizing the growth in demand caused by the development in the east part of town."

The eastern part of town is where the greatest residential growth is being seen. Scruggs said there has been so much growth in recent years that the city has to elevate its water towers to keep pressure at adequate levels. "That was a direct result caused by the growth," he said.

Scruggs said that impact fees are legal if they are done properly.

"Madison's impact fee program had problems," Scruggs said. "Ours will not have those problems. It can be done right."

Ocean Springs had 120 homes constructed in 2000, 90 in 2001 and is on track to have 120 homes constructed in 2002. If impact fees had been collected on the 310 homes built in three years, the city would have extra revenues of about $2.1 million.

In order for the city to have orderly growth, developers need to be responsible for a certain amount of the infrastructure. Most builders understand impact fees are for a purpose that improves their development."

Evan Ridenour 10 years, 2 months ago

Everyone who keeps mentioning that Lawrence already has too many apartments and that this venture will fail needs to wake up. You know nothing about the rental market!!!

Why would an established company who as its primary course of business builds and manages these complexes drop tens of millions of dollars into building one if they didn't believe it would be profitable?! Companies don't drop large sums of money into investments without researching their potential profitability first. Companies don't burn money.

Seriously, get a clue. You act as if you are the expert, the experts are the ones deciding to invest this money in the community, NOT you.

suesay 10 years, 2 months ago

There is a Links here in Lincoln. The rent is crazy expensive. I guess they have to make up for the cost of the project, huh?

What I don't understand is why someone would spend that much on rent when they could be spending the same amount on a mortgage payment. And if they have problems getting a loan in the first place, then they could live somewhere decent for a lot less money and save for a bigger down payment or pay off some bills. Obvious choice in my opinion.

odc213 10 years, 2 months ago

Perched Hawk on the River has a point

Tear down these old houses. I lived on kentucky in the late 90's and had oppossums in my basement!

We keep going WEST but leave the heart of the city.


Jackson 10 years, 2 months ago

Built for a mix of "mature students" and retirees?

The only "mature students" I know are retirees (who are) enrolled in continuing education.

Students living in single family zoned areas have ruined most central Lawrence neighborhoods, caused families to move away from Lawrence, resulting in closing of elementary schools and a continuing reduction of overall 497 (live) enrollment.

Sucessful mixing of students and families is a myth that is promoted by greedy slumlords.

Because of the current (flawed) zoning ordinance, ANY house in a single-family zoned neighborhood can be used for student rental housing, i.e., an apartment.

This recipie for residential neighborhood disaster has been going on for the past 25 years and has mortally wounded all central Lawrence (and several outlying) neighborhoods.

fletch 10 years, 2 months ago

My brother lives in an apartment complex/golf course development just like this in eastern Dallas. He loves it. The community is mostly a mix of young professionals (just out of college) and retirees, and yet everybody seems to get along. Last time I was down there, it was a nice sunny afternoon, the course was full (but not overcrowded). People were going for walks on the cart paths. I'm not all that into golf, but I imagine if you are, it's like a little slice of nirvana.

samsnewplace 10 years, 2 months ago

What about the ORCHARDS city commission? Shall we discuss how bad the City Budget is one more time? What or were you thinking...........

calamityjane 10 years, 2 months ago

What does the city golf course have to do with it? Are you suggesting the commission should deny private enterprise because Eagle Bend struggles? All golf courses are struggling by the way. (see front page of Topeka paper) As for shutting down the city course and selling the land; the city doesn't even own that land and let's go ahead and close the pools,tennis courts,ball diamonds, soccer fields, dog parks and skate parks because they don't support themselves either.

Evan Ridenour 10 years, 2 months ago

If you look at the financial situation of Eagle Bend it would actually be more costly to close it then to keep it open running at a loss. The city has bonds that have to be paid back REGARDLESS of whether it actually has a golf course or not.

If you close the golf course you end up costing the city more because they still have debt and they have now given up all of the revenue that they were using to help offset that debt.

somebodynew 10 years, 2 months ago

OK, I have said this before (maybe not on here), but I think somebody (maybe an investigative journalist) should look at how the city counts the revenue from Eagle Bend.

I am a golfer (gasp) and have played many rounds at Eagle Bend. For several years, it was difficult to get a tee time at the place because it was so busy. (Maybe not lately - haven't tried) So my question is, where did all this money go??? I am not suggesting anything illegal, just how the city accounts for the income. I personnally feel this is some kind of "write off" for the city, so that it always "looks" like it is losing money when the money is actually being put into some other fund.

I know from talking to folks in charge when it first started, they were not happy with where the funds went. They did not control the money and use it as they wished for the course. They compared it to a ticket a LPD office wrote - the city collects the fine, but the PD does not collect the money for their budget. "General Fund" which the City controls.

Just accounting questions that need answers I cannot provide.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 10 years, 2 months ago

We clearly don't need another golf course.

We clearly don't need more apartments.

Golf courses are usually surrounded by single-family dwellings and condos. This seems odd to me.

I don't get it. I'm not one of the "anti-growth" types... but if this is "growth", then maybe I need to be one. Won't deals like this kill the value of rental properties all over town? If half of all rentals end up empty, doesn't that make them all a retarded investment?

toefungus 10 years, 2 months ago

Golf, the four letter word of our time. The energy it takes to maintain it is terrible. We are going to need to build a few more coal generators!

calamityjane 10 years, 2 months ago

How much energy (resources) do you think it takes to maintain parks, landscaping and aquatic centers? And they don't even pretend to offset any of their expenses. And yet still no cries for shutting them down. Curious...

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