Letters to the Editor

No callers

February 20, 2009


To the editor:

Remember when Lawrence was a hotbed of activity and growth? Remember when every retailer wanted to come to Lawrence? Remember when we had industry knocking on our door to locate in Lawrence? What happened?

The story of Lawrence kind of goes like the Aesop’s fable, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” Lawrence kept saying we were interested in smart growth and positive employment, but when the businesses came to town asking to locate here, Lawrence just said “no.” And now that Lawrence has no callers, we wonder why. As the old man said to the boy, “Nobody believes a liar — even when he is telling the truth.”

Let’s rebuild our tax base and our employment.

Allison Gowing,


lawthing 9 years ago

Lawrence just hit a bump in the road.

skinny 9 years ago

It's pretty bad when you have to go to Topeka or Kansas City to eat as Lawrence has no Mom and Pop restaurants

Richard Heckler 9 years ago

The most important point that the retail industry realizes is that small town Lawrence,Kansas has a limited supply of available retail dollars as do most communities.

The other important point the retail industry realizes is Lawrence,Kansas is retail heavy aka over built considering the number of retail dollars available. Our market is over saturated. This is business unfriendly for both new and existing retail.

Over built retail produces economic displacement which in essence means the few available retail dollars are spread thinner and thinner thus many retailers are not getting the desired number of retail dollars a community requires to meet tax dollar revenue expectations.

This is one aspect of growth not paying for itself thus residents/taxpayers get billed for the short fall.

Placemakers,consultants city commisioners hired,warned our commissioners not too long ago of this situation. Placemakers was ignored. So I hear Lawrence,Kansas is demonstrated as a role model of how NOT to grow a city.

Lawrence expanded its' tax base so much the past 25 years residents should be receiving 5 year tax abatements. The bedroom community boom town economics failed and instead increased our cost of living hmmmmmm.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

Most fairly tales have a grain of truth, Allison. Yours is lacking one.

Richard Heckler 9 years ago

Placemakers is not alone in their findings that Lawrence was over built by 30%. Retail expansion continues under the false assumption that new retail magically increases the availability of retail dollars.

Basic findings:

  1. Lawrence is overbuilt in housing: Homes were built faster than popualtion growth supporting these homes. Excessive subdivisions caused an outmigration from older neighborhoods causing a severe loss of value, a loss of dwelling units, and a variety of other problems such as school closings.

  2. Lawerence is overbuilt in retail: Stores were built faster than retail spending growth supporting these stores. This excessive growth has hurt the public and private investment in downtown redevelopment (e.g.: the empty $8 million parking garage, the empty Hobbs-Taylor space, etc.) and has caused deterioration and blight in existing shopping centers (e.g.: Tanger Mall, Food-for-Less, etc.)

  3. Douglas County is overbuilt in manufacturing and warehousing; employment in these sectors is declining, not growing. Yet, the Chamber calls for more and more space in the false belief that more supply creates more demand.

  4. Office space in Douglas County is relatively well balanced, but the market for office space is severely crippled by the excessive supply of unused retail space which is competing for office tenants.

Basic strategy:

Lawrence should adopt a policy of “cooling off” the pace of development. Note: This is not a moratoriam; it is a consicous effort to redirect growth to existing neighborhoods and districts where it can be beneficial.

Housing: The city should stop approving new subdivisions until the existing supply of surplus homes is eliminated. It should direct housing investment back into older neighborhoods so as to preserve and protect the existing public and private investment there.

Commercial space: The city should stop approving plans for new commercial space until the existing surplus is eliminated. It should direct investment into the preseration of the downtown and other existing commercial districts so as to preserve and protect the existing publid and private investment there.

We need to support candidates who will support this strategy.

Kirk McClure

Education Ph. D., City Planning, University of California, Berkeley, Department of City and Regional Planning, 1985. Concentrations in Housing Economics and Public Finance.

Master in City Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, 1978. Specialization in Housing Policy Analysis.

Bachelor of Arts, University of Kansas, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 1974. Special Major in Urban Studies.

Bachelor of Architecture, Graduated With Distinction

Richard Heckler 9 years ago

Allison Gowing

* Branch Manager
  Central National Bank

  *Branch Manager
  Douglas County Bank

think_about_it 9 years ago

So she works for a bank Merrill. Does that mean that she can't have a valid opinion?

Can you do another web search for us all? We'd like to know the occupation of a loser by the name of Richard Heckler.

Chris Ogle 9 years ago

Hey Bozo- be nice today.... or at least wait for Tom to get up.

Richard Heckler 9 years ago

City Hall is creating a fantasyland. Tanger Mall is no longer a retail center but magically is now light industrial. This move artificially reduces the number of vacant retail square footage. It also substantially increases the number of vacant light industrial square footage. In reality North Lawrence does NOT need more light industrial space.

Over built communities are simply NOT business friendly. Both new and existing business struggle. This is one of the reasons Lawrence,Kansas is the most expensive Kansas community to live in and do business.

The more residential that is built the less existing residential is worth in real dollars and sense no matter what the inflated county value says. Inflated values artificially generate revenues to pay our increasing cost of living in Lawrence,Kansas. Tighter markets maintain a solid higher value.

Radio news frequently mentions the dilemma of property owners owing more than they can sell for….

monkeyhawk 9 years ago

"Remember when Lawrence was a hotbed of activity and growth? Remember when every retailer wanted to come to Lawrence? Remember when we had industry knocking on our door to locate in Lawrence? What happened?"

merrill happened.

And, if we get more merrills, deadbeats and PLCs on the next commission we can look forward to Lawrence's recovery taking far longer than the rest of the country, if ever. I'm sure the city can provide a chart showing exactly when the decline started. It was probably right around the same time revenues were shooting up and the PLC CC spent down the general fund on ...(what? where did that money go?) when smart cities were saving.

If you are sick of seeing failure rewarded, while your hard work and sense of responsibility is penalized, please look long and hard at the agendas of those who would seek to control our huge city budget in the coming years.

Could any of these past, present or future commissioners be influenced by a philosophy of local government infiltration to accomplish the goals one very wealthy individual? I think we are finding out that the impossible is now very possible.

http://www.poe.com/2006/08/10/george-soros-coup/ http://proteinwisdom.com/?p=9883

jafs 9 years ago

It is unreasonable to assume that any small town like Lawrence can sustain a "hotbed of activity and growth" over time, or that that would be a positive valuable thing.

I would rather see us improve the quality of life in Lawrence for current residents, and find a way to create a "sustainable" small city here.

monkeyhawk 9 years ago

"Over built communities are simply NOT business friendly."

No, no, no merrill. When will you understand that communities are things. Just like guns that don't kill, it is some people that kill, and in this case, it is people like you who have killed our community.

BTW, did Allison turn you down for a loan? Why the need to try to discredit her by exposing her occupation?

Richard Heckler 9 years ago

Is there something wrong with her occupation? Of course not.

Is there something wrong with local financial institutions? Of course not. Money deposited in local downtown institutions is better for the community.

Being a branch manager of a local bank may well lend support to her opinion.

Is it okay if Merrill disagrees with Allison? Of course it is.

Chris Ogle 9 years ago

Anyone heard from merrill today?

Joe Hyde 9 years ago

The letter writer says businesses want to locate here but "...Lawrence just says 'No'".


Drive out to Pleasant Grove, or to Wells Overlook tower, and look to the north please. At night Lawrence is so lit up with neon business signs it looks like Las Vegas squashed by a grill cook's bacon weight.

think_about_it 9 years ago

Wells Overlook at night? Better take a butt plug.

madameX 9 years ago


Lawrence has lots of mom and pop restaurants, or have you never been to Mass Street?

BigPrune 9 years ago

Merrill is lying yet again. Retail vacancies were created by new City restrictions! Don't be such an idiot. Check the facts. It is true. Lawrence has vacancies because businesses are no longer allowed to occupy the empty spaces by orders of the City of Lawrence.

...and Allison, if you are single, I am interested.

jonas_opines 9 years ago

"He is the personification because of his ubiquitous OCD cut-n-pastes. It's the whole PLC/GRA rabble, with Richard has the head cheerleader."

So you're worried about an OCD cheerleader?

freedomfighter 9 years ago

Allison seems like an incredibly intelliegent and thoughtful person. She should run for city commission! Hawkperch is right on. We've been shut down by the very people "running" this city. The planners have the code book stuck to their faces and all they want to answer is why, instead of why not. I love Lawrence, but we are sending ourselves down the toilet by thinking we are too good to have growth.

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