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Archive for Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Oread Inn planned as ‘part of the community’

April 21, 2009

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Jim Peters is excited about the possibilities at 12th Sreet and Oread Avenue.

As director of professional programs for Kansas University Continuing Education, Peters is in charge of helping KU departments bring workshops and conferences to campus. That means securing hotel rooms and meeting space — both of which have, at times, been a challenge in Lawrence.

That means many conferences end up in Kansas City or elsewhere. But that may soon change.

The Oread Inn, a 108-room facility that could accommodate conventions of up to 350, is under construction and scheduled to open early next year. Peters likes what he sees.

“I have no doubt it’s going to be helpful,” he said. “We’ll be able to draw more conferences to campus because of this.”

Nancy Longhurst, who will manage the Oread Inn and also manages the Eldridge Hotel, 701 Mass., said construction is on schedule for the new facility. She expects it to open around February 2010.

In addition to the room and meeting space, amenities will include:

• A restaurant that will serve “continental” fare from western Europe.

• A spa that will be open to the public.

• A Jimmy John’s sandwich shop.

• A retailer that has yet to be announced.

• 200 underground parking spaces.

• Outdoor terrace areas that will offer a view of campus and Lawrence.

• A club/bar.

Rachel Herring, marketing manager for the Oread, said the goal is to balance the needs of hotel guests and conventions with amenities for Lawrence residents. For instance, she hopes the spa and food options will be a draw for locals, and she thinks the bar will be good both for KU students who want to dance at night and for tailgaters before games.

“We want the Oread to be part of the community,” she said.

Challenging process

The $37 million project hasn’t been without its roadbumps.

First, there were the tax issues — the city will allow an extra 1 percent sales tax at the Oread to pay for street-related infrastructure improvements in the area. The development group, which includes Lawrence businessmen Thomas Fritzel, Tim Fritzel and Todd Sutherland, said the project wasn’t financially feasible without the tax.

Then, there was controversy over how the seven-story structure might affect the Lawrence and KU skyline.

Then, after construction began, a vandal or vandals opened a fire hydrant near the site multiple times, flooding the basement that had been dug and causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

Still, despite the challenges and the sluggish economy, Longhurst said she’s confident the timing of the project is good.

“I think we’re really lucky that right now all of this is happening,” she said of the timing of the bad economy in relation to the construction timeline. “A year from now, I feel we’ll be in a much better place.”

‘A leg up’

Peters, of KU Continuing Education, said he’s often restricted by the number of hotel rooms in town when it comes to attracting conventions, conferences and workshops.

With many campus entities wanting to hold their events in the Kansas Union — both because it’s on campus and because it has large meeting facilities — he thinks having a number of hotel rooms within walking distance of the union will be an advantage.

Some KU-related conferences want to be in Kansas City for other reasons, Peters said. But for those who are simply restricted by size, this will help.

“This is going to give KU a leg up,” he said.

He said in March that he was working to attact a national conference to KU in 2011 that would require hotel rooms for several hundred people. Organizers still will need to spread their attendees over several hotels to hold the conference here.

“People are pretty accommodating,” he said. “People want to come to Lawrence for all the good reasons.”

Other impacts

Judy Billings, director of the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau, said she agrees The Oread Inn will open up new possibilities for the city.

“I think it does present a new choice of properties, which is great,” Billings said. “It should bring some new business in — business that is connected in with the university, more than likely.”

But she said there may be a down side for other hotels in town, at least initially.

“Any time any kind of new property is built in a community, it does impact other properties,” she said.

But Oread Inn managers say they’re confident they are going after business that wouldn’t have been in Lawrence otherwise.

Herring, the marketing manager, said some statewide associations want to hold their meetings in northeastern Kansas but don’t want to go all the way to Kansas City. Other times, she said, KU alumni want to bring their association or business meetings back to their alma mater. She said several conferences already have been booked for the yet-to-be-completed facility.

“We’re starting to reach out to the university and state associations,” Longhurst added. “I think the university will be a big part of it.”

And if there are advantages for the Lawrence community, she said, it’ll be all the better.

“We want students to come in,” Longhurst said. “We want everybody who walks in to feel good about it.”

Comments

bearded_gnome 5 years, 7 months ago

Bronze=the most banned user of this forum has gone through seven previous screennames.

he thinks that extremely destructive vandalism of the construction site is a laughing matter.

is there indeed going to be a zeppelin mooring post and a cell phone tower atop the Oread Inn now?

Boston_Corbett 5 years, 7 months ago

Bronze = Cool = Spiderman = Coltrane = Rusty2 = Ariadne = Sven

Katara 5 years, 7 months ago

Oh. Just another case of Sven getting involved in a neighborhood organization where he owns no property. Nothing to see along here. Move on, now.

not_dolph 5 years, 7 months ago

Good point Kat...infact, Cool doesn't even own the house in which he lives. Squatter.

bearded_gnome 5 years, 7 months ago

Hey Marion ... ... your "Barack Hussein Obama hates polar bears" blog was very upsetting to Bronze/ocean/cool/spiderman/coltrane et al.

it was very upsetting to him.

...

classclown 5 years, 7 months ago

A restaurant that will serve “continental” fare.

Coffee and donuts?

Boeing 5 years, 7 months ago

Yes yes, how evil of this place to bring tax dollars into Lawrence. We all know there is no place to tax dollars in Larryville (oh wait...)

Katara 5 years, 7 months ago

bronze (Anonymous) says…

i think Marion has a point…..

how long is the shadow on something 114 feet above 12th at the entrance? ~~~~~~~~~ Why don't you stand out in the sun all day to measure it? You could post all your results here.

bearded_gnome 5 years, 7 months ago

Bronze: "the shadow knows!"

you're forgetting the height of the zeppelin mooring mast too!

besides, what about your promise, as under the name Cool [so many TOSsed out names ago] to drive a hippie-looking VW-bus to the Oread Inn to be the local tourist guide! you'd introduce the Oread Inn's guests to the local flora and fauna. of course you'd only do this for tips, because if you're paid you'd have to pay real taxes.

I agree, go out and measure it? in fact, you're supposed to be the wizbang environmental architect, you should be able to calculate the shadow cast. but I have an answer for you:

at local noon, the shadow will be very close to zero except from the declination of the earth.

clyde_never_barks 5 years, 7 months ago

gnome - I am still laughing at TOSsed, Outstanding. Speaking of outstanding, I'll be watching for Bronze, Ocean, Spiderman, Jaguar, Cool to be measuring the shadow. Guessing your answer is more acurate than what he might produce,

bearded_gnome 5 years, 7 months ago

Clyde, love your name man!

maybe we need to raise money to keep Bronze/et al there measuring the shadow every five minutes of the day for six months in order to produce a chart with massive number of datapoints.


after this post, Bronze tried twice to out me on this thread--apparently I really hit Bronze's little nerve:

17 May 2009 at 4:27 p.m.

Suggest removal Permalink Anonymous bearded_gnome (Anonymous) says…

Bronze=the most banned user of this forum has gone through seven previous screennames.

he thinks that extremely destructive vandalism of the construction site is a laughing matter.

is there indeed going to be a zeppelin mooring post and a cell phone tower atop the Oread Inn now?

flyin_squirrel 5 years, 2 months ago

Interesting that this article back in April only mentions a Bar/Club, and Terrace View... How did we go from that to 6 bars...

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