Four years after a deadly fire destroyed portions of the Boardwalk Apartments, a plan has emerged to rebuild the entire northwest Lawrence complex.
A site plan has been filed with the city planning department that calls for $10 million in new construction at the Boardwalk site, 524 Frontier Road.
Developers envision demolishing the existing 1960s-era apartment buildings and replacing them with 11 apartment buildings and a clubhouse.
“The buildings out there are old and dated, and we know they need to come down,” said Paul Werner, a Lawrence-based architect who is leading the project. “But the location is still a great location.”
Werner said work could begin early next year on the first phase of the project, which would include 96 apartments in five different buildings.
A second phase — which would include another 96 apartments in six buildings, plus a clubhouse — would follow, although Werner said timing for that part of the project is less certain.
“We understand there are a lot of apartments being built in town,” Werner said. “We’ll monitor that.”
Overall, the new complex would house fewer people than the previous Boardwalk complex. Plans call for the new apartment development to have 192 units with 252 bedrooms. The previous complex had 231 units with 323 bedrooms.
Werner said the development will be unique in how it is designed to be energy efficient. He said the goal is for the new complex to gain LEED certification, which is a designation that recognizes “green building” practices of a project. Werner said as part of the certification process, the project will be required to use high efficiency water heaters, appliances and building materials.
“We think the utility bills here should be less than any other comparable size apartment in Lawrence,” Werner said. “It should be a good marketing tool for us.”
The complex also will be unusual in that all the buildings — which will be three stories — will feature elevators, Werner said.
Demolition work on the existing buildings is expected to begin as soon as the final residents of Boardwalk move out. In May, leaders with the Boardwalk complex announced to residents that they would need to find new living arrangements as their leases expired. The announcement came shortly after the owners of the Boardwalk Apartments settled a $12 million lawsuit with victims of the October 2005 fire.
At the time, the owners said they were taking the action because they had been informed that all of the apartment buildings did not comply with “fire safety standards for newly constructed apartment buildings.”
In other development news:
• A rezoning request has been filed to add more commercial development to a project at Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway. A development group led by Steve Schwada and others has filed an application to rezone 24 acres of property at the northeast corner of the intersection. The rezoning would change portions of the property from residential-office uses to community commercial uses, which includes traditional retail development.
But Mary Miller, the city planner overseeing the review, said the request is not expected to increase the total amount of retail development that is possible at the entire intersection. That is because a development plan for the southeast corner of the intersection has expired without being built.
That development, called Northgate, envisioned 195,000 square feet of retail development occurring at the southeast corner of the intersection. Miller said the new request is to have much of that previously approved retail space shifted from the southeast corner to the northeast corner.
The rezoning request will need to be approved by both the Planning Commission and City Commission. Planning commissioners are tentatively scheduled to hear the request at their December meeting.
• Plans have been filed that indicate another restaurant/bar use is slated for the former Vermont Street BBQ location, 728-730 Mass. A plan recently was filed that showed minor changes to the rear of the building. The plan, however, did not give details about what type of restaurant was slated for the site. Werner, who also is doing the design work for that project, said he couldn’t disclose the name of the tenant.