Archive for Thursday, November 12, 2009

County endorses CritiTech proposal

Commissioners unanimously give initial approval for plan

Lawrence plans to purchase the old Oread Labs building in an effort to keep CritiTech in town. The building's selling price is $3 million.

November 12, 2009


County Commission pushes for CritiTech building

The Douglas County Commission voiced support to buy the former Oread Labs building in west Lawrence to keep CritiTech and attract other bioscience tenants. Enlarge video

The Douglas County Commission on Wednesday night gave the second major vote of confidence this week to a $2.9 million proposal for the city and county to purchase a west Lawrence laboratory building.

“In my mind this is a logical next step for a very important vision that our community is committed to,” Commissioner Nancy Thellman said before the unanimous vote of approval to move the process forward. “It’s a potential producer of some very strong, high-valued jobs, and it is a real example of what we can do when we work in tandem.”

Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday already voiced support for the proposal that would have the city and county team up to purchase the former Oread Labs building near Bob Billings Parkway and Wakarusa Drive. The nearly 18,000-square-foot building would be leased out to bioscience companies — including CritiTech, a Lawrence-based pharmaceutical company looking for room to grow.

The city’s Public Incentives Review Committee is reviewing the proposal, and it will make a recommendation to city commissioners before they reconsider the deal in December.

Supporters said the lab space with renovations is necessary to attract and retain companies, especially startups that run out of space at the bioscience incubator under construction now on Kansas University’s West Campus.

“I think this facility is going to be a necessary part of the infrastructure we want to have in place for growing and keeping these kinds of bioscience high-tech companies,” said Carey Novak, the KU director of business relations and development.

No one spoke out against the deal Wednesday at the county meeting. Tuesday night at the city meeting, some opposed to the deal argued that taxpayers would shoulder too much risk if the project didn’t attract enough tenants.

“Any investment with reward potential has risk,” County Commissioner Jim Flory said. “And this has risk as well. But in my opinion, the risk of doing nothing is far greater than the risk of doing something, and I want to do something.”

County and city commissioners are scheduled to consider giving final approval to the deal in December.

In other news Wednesday, county commissioners also approved the reclamation plan for the Big Springs Quarry, west of Lawrence.

It has been a lengthy process. Mid-States Materials LLC of Topeka proposed the reclamation plan after it bought the quarry in 2007 from Martin Marietta Materials. Neighbors have long had environmental concerns.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 7 months ago

The question still remains: When did this building, currently valued by the county at $1.4 million, undergo the improvements that now make it worth $2.3 million?

Stuart Evans 8 years, 7 months ago

I think that it goes to show how much the county can jack with property values in order to attain what they want. F the people. Who cares that property tax rates go up automatically every single year on homes, making them completely unaffordable to a single salary income. just keep sticking it to the current residents so you can try to attract new ones.

booze_buds_03 8 years, 7 months ago

Deciphera has been laying people off because business is not as good as hoped.

in123 8 years, 7 months ago

"County and city commissioners are scheduled to consider giving final approval to the deal in December."

Merry Christams Sam!

Godot 8 years, 7 months ago

Wow, time for a clean sweep of city and county elected officials.

mae 8 years, 7 months ago

"Wow, time for a clean sweep of city and county elected officials."


newsreader 8 years, 7 months ago

I'm glad I moved from that place. Only in Lawrence is there potholes EVERYWHERE, yet they can find $2.4 million dollars to play landlord. Isn't that what citizens and private business is for? Let Compton buy it and rent it out...

Don Zimmer 8 years, 7 months ago

  1. I expected the new commissioners would be better stewards of our taxes, especially in today’s economic environment. Some opportunities, which this does not appear to be one, you just have to pass on until the economy improves.
  2. In this case there are too many conflicts of interest in the parties. At least do what any practical person does and negotiate the price to reflect current values and alternatives. Commercial values are down 30% or more, ask any buyer, banker, or appraiser. Basing values on future expectations is what got us into this mess in the first place. The owners group are in the real estate business and if they cannot find tenants what makes the City/County think they can.
  3. The threat that they will move the business to another community appears shallow. If they move the business then the property owners (who are also the tenants) will no longer have any tenants for their building and then what is the empty building worth.
  4. A tenant expects the unit to be habitable. The air conditioning works and the improvements to meet tenants needs are priced into the value of the building. In other words if it is worth $1,000,000 based on current rents (which meets the tenant's needs) and needs $500,000 in deferred maintenance to meet tenant's needs it is not worth $1,500,000 just the $1,000,000. To overpay for a building from an owner (who is also the tenant) bring it up to date and then lease it back to them at below market rent should set off alarms. if you buy a house with a roof that needs to be replaced you do not pay as if the roof is new and then pay additional money to have it replaced

Richard Heckler 8 years, 7 months ago

What Bio Tech Companies are looking at Lawrence?

This is quite a competitive industry that every community will be reaching out for such

What documents were presented to the decision makers that would support their spending tax dollars?

Is is mostly speculation?

Bob Zimmerman 8 years, 7 months ago

Wow, and I mean wow. Just reviewing all the above comments, I'm amazed at how little you all know about this project, the bioscience industry, business development, job creation, real estate, and overall economic development. Please keep making similar comments because: 1) I need a break now and then from my job and I get good laugh. 2) Your comments help reasonable people form opposing position (ie. we need to do this project).

Oh yeah, how come I didn't hear all your thoughtful comments at the job creation round table last month at the high school? Around 110 locals attended and spent 2.5 hours mapping out a strategy for job growth. This project is absolutely in sync with the recommendations of that event. Were you all busy playing video games or was it because you have no ideas? You all better get back to your TVs. The rest of us have real work to do for this community.

in123 8 years, 7 months ago


Please explain how bailing out private investors will create jobs here. The money goes directly to the landlords, not to any new ventures. Someone will buy the building, it is a matter of price. The current owners bought the building in a bankruptcy settlement at a low price. Now they fear the same and have maniipulated this to get the local government to pay a premium. If the goal is to create jobs, use the $2.9M to encourage new ventures to start up. Buying the building only rewards the current investors.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 7 months ago


Since this is such slam dunk good deal for the taxpayers, I'm sure you can answer the question I posed at the start of this thread--

When did this building, currently valued by the county at $1.4 million, undergo the improvements that now make it worth $2.3 million?

Godot 8 years, 7 months ago

What is the amount of the loan on the building now? What bank or banks are on the hook if Campbell, et al, default on the loan? Surely the City and County have this information. We taxpayers are being put on the hook for this, we deserve to have all the facts.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.