Archive for Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lawrence ranks last among 34 cities in Plains region for per capita gross domestic product

Among 34 regional cities, ours is lowest in gross domestic product

September 24, 2009


University towns

Here’s a look at the per capita GDP numbers of the 13 other university cities that City Hall leaders have said are similar to Lawrence.

1. Iowa City, Iowa: $39,256

2. Charlottesville, Va.: $37,800

3. Missoula, Mont.: $35,041

4. St. Cloud, Minn.: $33,451

5. Champaign-Urbana, Ill. $30,368

6. Columbia, Mo.: $30,268

7. Gainesville, Fla.: $29,960

8. Grand Junction, Colo.: $29,056

9. Bellingham, Wash.: $28,772

10. Athens-Clarke County, Ga.: $27,050

11. Johnson City, Tenn.: $26,285

12. Bloomington, Ind.: $25,965

13. Lawrence: $24,692

14. Chico, Calif.: $22,719

Lawrence isn’t being very productive these days.

New federal numbers that measure the overall size of a city’s economy found that Lawrence in 2008 ranked last among 34 cities in the Plains region in terms of per capita gross domestic product.

The new GDP numbers — which are considered a broad measure of economic health of a community — did not catch economic development leaders by surprise.

“This is one that a lot of economic development leaders and business leaders have been scratching their heads about,” said Roger Zalneraitis, economic development coordinator for the city.

Gross domestic product measures the amount of income produced in an area. The new report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis measured total GDP for all 366 metropolitan areas in the country. The report also broke the numbers down on a per capita basis to allow for easier comparisons between metro areas of different sizes.

Lawrence checked in with a per capita GDP of $24,692. That was up from $24,578 in 2007. But the 2008 total is actually less than it was in 2001, when it was $25,659. The numbers are adjusted for inflation.

The report broke the country into regions, and Lawrence’s per capita numbers were the lowest of the 34 cities in the Plains region. Lawrence was about $1,800 behind the next lowest, Joplin, Mo. Lawrence was well behind the region’s leader, Des Moines, Iowa, at $50,959.

City Hall leaders also maintain a list of college communities across the country that are considered similar to Lawrence. On that list of 14 cities, Lawrence ranked second to last.

The numbers indicate the city’s economic growth has not kept up with its growth in population, even though population growth has slowed over the latter half of the decade.

“This is a long-term concern,” Zalneraitis said. “It is not just a concern that has come up in the last year.”

Zalneraitis said the numbers show that Lawrence’s economy has never fully recovered from a national downturn following the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

“Back then we did not have a downturn as big as what other counties experienced, but we also had no bounce back,” Zalneraitis said. “We’ve just kind of sat there. The question is why. It is a tough question to crack, but that is clearly what is going on.”

There was some positive news in the report. From 2007 to 2008, the total value of goods and services produced in the Lawrence area grew by 1.7 percent. That was far better than the national average of 0.8 percent, and was close to the 2 percent average for the Plains region.

Zalneraitis said the Midwest has fared better than many other areas of the country because the downturn in the real estate market has not been as severe here as it has been on the coasts.

But economic development leaders have said Lawrence may be suffering more than some other communities in the region because home construction does play a major role in the city’s economy. The city also is home to several manufacturers that make products for the construction industry.

The new report did show a dramatic drop in the role construction plays in the economy. In 2001, construction activity contributed $128 million to Lawrence’s GDP. In 2008, it contributed $78 million, a decline of 39 percent. That drop was the largest percentage drop of any city in the Plains region, and was well above the region’s average construction decline of 22 percent.


BigPrune 8 years, 5 months ago

The Progressive "smart growth" legacy at work, Lawrence ranks last. No surprise. No wonder Lawrence is known nationally as one of the most anti-business cities in the entire nation. Maybe people at City Hall will finally open their eyes and change things for the better. It ain't just the national economy. Lawrence has had problems for far longer than the rest of the nation. We have been in a recession this whole decade.

Michael Capra 8 years, 5 months ago

does this suprize anyone it cost three times more than any other city to come here so why should they when we have smart growth and dope smoke and a planning dept thats never there,lets get rid of the dead weight and go back to commen since and not lets try and stop you

Flap Doodle 8 years, 5 months ago

I blame internal combustion lawnmowers!

Stuart Evans 8 years, 5 months ago

excellent post 458. put I'm hung up on suprize, commen since, and that lone punctuating comma.

thinkagain 8 years, 5 months ago

The Commission in 2001 was made up of David Dunfield, Sue Hack, Jim Henry, Marty Kennedy and Mike Rundle. I would imagine that the votes until April 2003 were NOT a "Progressive 'smart growth' legacy." Get your facts in place Big Prune.

thinkagain 8 years, 5 months ago

I think the combustion lawnmower is more on target.

ksjayhawk74 8 years, 5 months ago

@ Chi...

You can buy glass pipes Downtown again.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

The answer is spelled out pretty clearly in this article. The city's economic policies were built up almost exclusively around bedroom community sprawl, and especially under current economic realities, the demand for Lawrence bedrooms has been completely exhausted.

In other words, there is nothing "progressive" going on here. It's just a natural and expected result of the developer/banker/builder dominated local politics over the last several decades.

cowboy 8 years, 5 months ago

Doesn't it just give you a big warm fuzzy feeling to hear the economic development coordinator telling us "were all scratching our heads". Translate that to we don;t have a clue how to develop economic opportunities. The construction industry probably lost another 50 percent in 2009. Well I am no expert but there is a huge wind power movement in the panhandle right now and we have plant space and about 250 Sauer-Danfoss , sic , trained employees that need work. Where were you when Siemens was looking for a plant site ? Who are the other players ? How bout a vo-tech program for this industry. The current group of city , county , quasi gov't eco devo folks are just sitting around collecting salaries waiting for bio science devo to occur . The only bio devo is the city's large compost pile.

I for one would like to lay the results at the key players doorsteps , C o C , Eco Devo , City staff , and the associated commissioners should all be replaced with some folks with training, experience , and some national connections. Fire all these yahoo's and hire one good one. Maybe Lou Perkins needs a new challenge. The city has a large workforce that is not utilized at all for the most part. Our non college kids have little choice but to become townie losers or leave town because there are no jobs here.

This is a travesty and as long as the taxpayer money keeps paying these folks for no results it will not improve. All the usual complainers gripe about tax abatements and land deals but if you add up all of the salaries for the folks that are supposed to be impacting this issue you could fund some very nice programs I'm sure. all of these folks are story tellers not story makers.

BigPrune 8 years, 5 months ago

1) Housing 2) Industry 3) Retail

thinkagain, thinkagain. The "Progressive" mindset slowly chiseled its way into and changed everything for the bad of the community. It all started with the 2' freeboard, an extra expense required. Then they 'ran out of town' American Eagle Outfitters. Then a government subsidized bus system draining our community since inception (except when they were getting Fed money that is now gone) for that fiasco. Then 9/11 hit coinciding nicely with the 'stop growth at all costs' people (later to be called 'the Progressives'). Unfortunately, the Chamber threw the fringe an olive branch to "build consensus" promoting a sales tax that if enacted would initially give these folks half of the sales taxes generated to buy up farmland (a welfare green belt) taking the land off the tax rolls forever. The anti-Walmart "Progressives" won the city commission election. One of the commissioners miraculously pulled out enough votes at the 11th hour to win. The Progressives then had the majority. I recall a 1:00 am vote to ban smoking after blowing smoke at petitioners who tried to keep it legal in the bars on the last day a petition could be submitted. Then they promoted and passed the "Living Wage" law that basically took Lawrence off the radar of any potential employers since no industry could get a tax abatement without a promise and made us totally non-competitive for industry. Meanwhile, Olathe was giving away free land to industry. Then the "Progressives" decided that zoning and codes needed to be updated. Of course they always maintain that "growth never pays" though about 99% of the communities that are larger than Lawrence proved this philosophy wrong. So they changed the code making it virtually impossible for new businesses to move into town - this is basically the retail end of the community.

So first they started with housing, 2' freeboard, extra costs for bike lanes etc, then it was industry by removing any hope for the unemployed by claiming it was for a so-called "Living Wage" that didn't create any new wages at all, then it was onto retail and the "god awful beige" strip shopping centers (now considered obsolete) and any free standing businesses (now requiring gigantic parking lots). The catalyst for the last was a taxpayer draining lawsuit against Wal-mart that should've been allowed to be twice the size after it's all said and done.

There you go, Progressives at work. A conspiracy to ruin our community and set it back to the 1960's and early 1970's so an elite few can relive the youth of their college years.

gl0ck0wn3r 8 years, 5 months ago

Yay, we are worse than JOPLIN.

So what's the over/under on Richard posting his usual rant about smart growth and such? Here, I'll make it easy by posting something of his from the other day:

Richard LawnMower: "Yes it is correct. It is my opinion that Lawrence,Kansas cannot afford tax incentives.

Why? Because it places the burden on all other taxpayers. Lawrence STILL cannot afford to give out “free lunches”. Tax incentives have proved to be a menace to economic growth as the “tax incentive vultures” prowl around looking for their next prey aka innocent taxpayers.

Tax incentives aka free lunches should be scrapped. Tax incentives merely help people off their real estate. In real life they are tax increases to any community. When can any community afford to give away tax dollars?"

gl0ck0wn3r 8 years, 5 months ago

Here's a good one in which Richard LawnMower explains - without any evidence - that builders are purposely building rental units so they'll sit empty. I'm also curious how he figures that property owners don't pay property taxes on empty units. My guess is he's never actually owned property...

Richard LawnMower:

"Lawrence,Kansas continues to focus on the the items that expand our tax bills. Residential demands more in expenses that residential generates.

I am simply amazed that the flooded rental market continues to expand. The empty structures cost taxpayers a ton of money because there is no one living in these structures.

Listening to city hall about how broke we are taxpayers should begin to understand why. Bedroom communities are high tax dollar operations because there is no employment for the residents. Empty bedrooms compound the problem because there is no living in these structures with jobs in Lawrence to make money to spend in Lawrence.

If Lawrence could pay bills on property tax alone Lawrence would be rolling in the dough. Judging by the constant increase in cost of just about everything City Hall manages I'd say Lawrence,Kansas and the taxpayers are over extended."

notajayhawk 8 years, 5 months ago

witchfindergeneral (Anonymous) says…

"Who cares?"

Possibly the folks who'd prefer to eat in town with less history than to starve to death in a city with unique character?

LA_Ex 8 years, 5 months ago mean to tell me Lawrence is a.....bedroom community? Shocking.

achtung 8 years, 5 months ago

cowboy hit it on the head. get rid of the idiots and bring in a professional, someone with experience, and no, construction or restaurant experience doesn't cut it.

Lou Perkins for President of Lawrence!

Ralph Reed 8 years, 5 months ago

It's interesting, all I see are blames laid at the feet of others with no solutions. Well done. I'm offering a few solutions. In my opinion, Lawrence needs to do the following: Court a diverse set of stable companies and offer them realistic incentives to come and stay. Quit letting a small overly vocal minority control the way our community operates (read chase them away). Look for ways to change from construction and development being the major source of employment (other than KU). I've seen for rent signs year round for at least the past four years; I never saw them after May when I was growing up here. This change will obviously take some time. Quite frankly, clean up how we talk here online. I have no doubt that companies read what we write and make decisions based on what they read. I would not recommend Lawrence after researching what's written here over time. Change the structure of our city commission. Have an elected mayor (4 years, with a term limit of two consecutive terms). An odd number of commissioners, 5 or 7, elected by wards every two years (with a term limit of 3 consecutive terms). Right now it's possible for a faction to hold the city hostage and get things done that benefit only them and their PAC. These people are not responsible to "us" other than by lip service. Have KU start paying a "head tax" of $25 or $50 per student per semester. They'll just pass it on to the students anyway. Have the cojones to stand up to KU. Granted, Lawrence would be about the size of any other small riverfront community if KU were not here. However, KU should not run Lawrence as it does. At best the relationship should be symbiotic, not parasitic as it is now. * Develop competition for good-paying jobs. Currently, a small group of employers wants to keeps wages low and not let competition come in that might jeapordize that control. Any other ideas?

VTHawk 8 years, 5 months ago

Regarding Qatar, UAE, and some others. GDP measures the economic activity within a country's borders, not economic activity by its citizens. Qatar and the UAE are full of expatriate Americans, whose income tends to repatriate in some degree. In other words, foreigners inflate the GDP figures.

If you look at GNP (Gross National Product), it measures the economic activity of a "nation" (i.e. "race"). Countries that beat the US on GDP but don't seem like particularly nice places to live often have a low GNP in comparison.

The real issue is that Lawrence is one of the most anti-business communities in the country. The amount of time and money that were spent keeping Walmart and Best Buy/Home Depot from the city was rediculous. Tax dollars being spent to PREVENT companies coming to town are a double whammy, since the money results both in increased rates of taxation and lower levels of economic activity.

BigPrune 8 years, 5 months ago

witchy, The problem with Lawrence is the City limited growth and continues to do so even today. So they are left scratching their heads because they came under the spell that growth never pays, when indeed growth certainly does pay, and quite handsomely. If you don't like west or sw Lawrence, don't go there. I don't go to downtown very often because I have a hard time finding a place to park and I cannot see where the businesses are located because all the trees block the signage.

notajayhawk 8 years, 5 months ago

witchfindergeneral (Anonymous) says…

"Personally, nota, I'd prefer death via starvation in Lawrence to the soul-crushing, empty life I'd most likely live in more economically prosperous yet culturally regressive town."

Good luck with that. Let us know how it works out for ya'.

By the way, if it wasn't for your elitist snobbery, perhaps you'd take a quick look around and see that Lawrence has about as much 'culture' as any other small midwestern town. But hey, why would you want to live in a place that has real museums, concert halls, theaters, good restaurants, etc. - because they can actually afford to!

devobrun 8 years, 5 months ago

Ad hoc Ad loc Quid pro quo So little to do So much to know

Richard Heckler 8 years, 5 months ago

Slow and methodic/planned growth would pay. It did not happen that way. Bedroom communities are low productivity high tax dollar ventures.

The residential “boom town” economy has come back to bite us in the butt because residential does not payback the cookie jar thus increased taxes/user fees. The market was flooded before the national scene took place so welcome to a double whammy.

The city commission has no intentions of being a positive player. This commission will continue business as usual….approving more and more residential no matter what. Their answer is “get more people to move to Lawrence”.

The answer is tighter markets hold property values up not down.

Over the years Lawrence has approved approximately 5000 more homes than the market dictated on a “build just in case someone shows up” notion. Face it flooded residential markets are unfriendly to property owners.

This commission will continue to refuse performing Market Capacity Studies that would determine what the Lawrence market can absorb in residential and retail. One could imply government does not want to know!

This commission will continue to refuse performing a Cost of Community Services study that would help determine what growth is or is not paying back. This could also provide direction for governing bodies. One could imply government does not want to know!

This commission will also refuse economic impact studies to be performed before approving any new projects that come before the city commission. One could imply government does not want to know! Face it flooded retail markets are business unfriendly which apparently influenced the decision of Banana Republic to decline Lawrence not too long ago.

These are not new tools. Lawrence has simply refused to mandate use of these tools. Frankly there is no one on the city and county commissions that can “just know these things” and there never has been.

25 years of decisions based on speculation is coming back to haunt the taxpayers.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 5 months ago

Why would any new business person want to walk into this situation? It also makes it difficult for existing business people aka anti business.

By Kim McClure

July 24, 2009

To the editor:

The July 14 editorial asks, “What’s downtown going to look like five, 10 or 15 years from now?” The answer can be known, and the picture is not pretty.

Lawrence has enough spending to support about 4.1 million square feet of retail space, but the City Commission permitted developers to expand the supply to over 5.5 million square feet.

Lawrence has too much retail space chasing too few vendors, which means that many stores go empty, especially in the older shopping centers like downtown.

The surplus development has stalled redevelopment plans downtown and has pushed the vacancy rates so high that disinvestment and blight now threaten. Investment, both public and private, is wasted. The taxpayers’ $8 million parking garage stands largely empty. The Hobbs-Taylor building and the 600 block of Massachusetts should be the top performing spaces in the community, but they have significant vacancies.

The recession has contributed to the problem, but had we properly managed our growth we would be much better off.

The developers’ short-term gain is now our long-term loss. Managed growth would have prevented much of the problem and would have protected and enhanced our downtown.

It will take many, many years to absorb this surplus space and, until this happens, it will be hard for downtown to compete. We can only look forward to many years of high vacancy and disinvestment. We need a City Commission that knows how to pace the growth of supply so as to protect our unique downtown.

McClure is from Lawrence

Flap Doodle 8 years, 5 months ago

The copy/paste bot has risen from his sleep!

jumpin_catfish 8 years, 5 months ago

Shocking, did anyone see this one coming. ha ha! And here's a solution Ralph, let the free market rule. Businesses come and businesses go but if they never come we're doomed. I don't mean retail store front jobs, I mean industries, building stuff. If you haven't noticed businesses are fleeing this town.

Despite the mad raving of Michael Moore capitalism is not dead but the creeping worldwide socialism is the last nail in the coffin of civilization.

gl0ck0wn3r 8 years, 5 months ago

"snap_pop_no_crackle (Anonymous) says… The copy/paste bot has risen from his sleep!"

Face it! Richard managed to copy and paste some of the best recycled content around,jose!

Richard may mow lawns for a living, but he can copy and paste like a robot. Indeed, sometimes I wonder if he hasn't gotten someone to do some programming for him so he doesn't actually have to visit any websites. Essentially, the logic would work something like:

Search for key words If key words are found, post several semi-related texts from a database of texts Run again in a couple hours.

puddleglum 8 years, 5 months ago

big p-"I cannot see where the businesses are located because all the trees block the signage."

ah yes, this is a welcome sight to most of us. If you do not know where you are going, you should buy a gps. the rest of us don't want to look at cheap, crappy signs boasting TACO BELL or WAL-MART. we see enough of that crap on the TV every night.

god so bless you and your poor little builders that have no houses to sprawl, because no one wants to buy their junk either.

james bush 8 years, 5 months ago

Is there a $10 per hour minimum wage at work in Lawrence?

Richard Heckler 8 years, 5 months ago

The 'Free Market" theory is a hoax.

Why does Lawrence provide tax dollar help to new competition leaving existing business to sink or swim? = business unfriendly.

Suddenly existing business people have to compete with people whom the government is giving a huge leg up on. You think existing business will go broke after a while? Well, in fact, it will. = business unfriendly

Why do Lawrence movers and shakers believe that flooded markets are good for business? = business unfriendly

Why would any homeowner believe that flooding the housing market would be healthy for property values? = homeowner unfriendly. How does this improve the quality of life?

Why would anyone believe that building more roads which increases our taxes,brings on more traffic congestion and demands an increased LPD budget PLUS pollutes the air somehow improves the quality of life?

Richard Heckler 8 years, 5 months ago

Basic findings:

  1. Lawrence is overbuilt in housing: Homes were built faster than population growth supporting these homes. Excessive subdivisions caused an out-migration 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. Lawrence 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 moratorium; it is a conscious 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 preservation of the downtown and other existing commercial districts so as to preserve and protect the existing public and private investment there.

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 University of Kansas, School of Architecture and Urban Design, 1973.

==================================================================== We need to find candidates who will support this strategy.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 5 months ago

Poorly planned development threatens our environment, our health, and our quality of life in numerous ways.

Sprawl spreads development out over large amounts of land; puts long distances between homes, stores, and job centers; and makes people more and more dependent on driving in their daily lives.

Sprawl pollutes our air and water. As reliance on cars and pavement of more and more roads increases, so does smog and pollution from water runoff. Today, more than half all Americans live in areas where the air is unsafe to breathe. Sprawl destroys more than two million acres of parks, farms and open space each year.

Sprawl increases traffic on our neighborhood streets and highways. Sprawl lengthens trips and forces us to drive everywhere. The average American driver currently spends the equivalent of 55 eight-hour workdays behind the wheel every year.

Sprawl wastes tax money. It pulls economic resources away from existing communities and spreads them out over sparse developments far away from the core.

Taxes subsidize millions of dollars worth of new roads, new water and sewer lines, new schools and increased police and fire protection at the expense of the needs of the core communities. This leads to degradation of our older neighborhoods and higher taxes.

BigPrune 8 years, 5 months ago

Merrill, Lawrence is the way it is (read: dying) because the infamous Mr. McClure got his strategies enacted. Has that guy ever actually owned anything other than a house, yet he is considered an expert? Lawrence retail spending has been over $1 Billion since 2000. Take $1 Billion and divide the number of residents say 85,000 residents equals $11,765 spent per resident per year including children. That is $32.23 per day spent, 365 days per year. Why do you think national companies used to locate here since the $1 billion mark was set?

As for Banana Republic, last I checked they are owned by the Gap and the Gap is struggling nationwide.

BigPrune 8 years, 5 months ago

puddlegum, I bet $100 bucks that Lawrence's downtown businesses would do a lot more business if the average folk knew where the stores are located. That would result in less vacancies and more convenience so I wouldn't have to get out my gps (what a ridiculous statement on your part).

Also, back to Merrill, you claim we are overbuilt in retail. I tried to rent a vacant retail space in this town for my business and I would've waited 9 months just to get approvals over the restrictions the City's 'progressive' commission imposed. I went to Lenexa, it was a cake walk. So your argument doesn't jibe at all.

megiddo 8 years, 5 months ago

Actually, BigPrune is quite mistaken. The only way people in this town have ever made money was building cardboard shacks for KC cube-workers and selling beer to frat-boys. The idea that "progressives" ruined the joint is as ridiculous as blaming the terrorist attacks of September 11th for our problems. To claim Lawrence as 'anti-business' is pretty myopic, too. I've lived here almost 40 years, and what BigPrune is laying out is disingenuous to say the least.

BigPrune 8 years, 5 months ago

megiddo, You must live in a fantasy world, because EVERYTHING I have said is true. I've lived here 50 years, but I also have common sense.

The fact of the matter is: Lawrence is dying. Progressives need to take the blame instead of passing the buck.

knayte 8 years, 5 months ago

To all the naysayers criticizing downtown and Lawrence's culture (or lack of it), I personally stayed in Lawrence precisely because I could be close to downtown and experience the wonderful culture on offer. I work in Overland Park but couldn't stand to live in a cookie cutter house a half hour drive from anything interesting. And I know many people who live in Lawrence for the same reason.

BigPrune 8 years, 5 months ago

Who is criticizing downtown? Just trying to help it improve so it thrives even more. A simple fix, just need to prune some trees so customers (the paying public) knows where the stores are located.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 5 months ago

Only a strict regime of copy/pasting can save Lawrence.

Godot 8 years, 5 months ago

You want to see what Progressive can do with a clean slate and an open government check book? Check out the "progress" in Greensburg.

puddleglum 8 years, 5 months ago

greensburg is awesome, GODOT.

I thought you were anti-environment? why the change of heart?

puddleglum 8 years, 5 months ago

big prune: I knew you would like that GPS statement... so tell me, 50-year resident....if you have lived here for so long, how are still having trouble finding the places that you are going to? and why trim the trees downtown? why not just rip 'em out of there and get on with it? oh yeah, the trees actually hide all the gutter punks and other assorted drunken bums... maybe you and I could get out heads together (notice the yellow flashing turn signal at 6th& stoneridge-obviously someone is listening to us, thankyou journal world) like last week and come up with a cool solution? I will start first: lets build tree houses for the homeless on mass. when they get up in the late afternoon, they can 'pay their rent' by holding up a sign for the corresponding business that they live in front of. as soon as it gets dark, they can drink and go back to sleep. everybody wins

average 8 years, 5 months ago

"The fact of the matter is: Lawrence is dying. Progressives need to take the blame instead of passing the buck."

Those who are distinctly not the "progressives" have run the town for 26 of the last 30 years, and clearly have the balance of power at present. Any chance they might consider taking some blame at some point?

TopJayhawk 8 years, 5 months ago

I wish you guys would get it togather. Then maybe you would stay out of Topeka, and quit hogging our jobs. Get a real hospital that can clean up your messes instead of depending on the good citizens and resonsible hospitals of Topeka that have to deal with your dysfunctional, bi-polar citizens everyday. Who also take care of your raped, and beaten, and your overdosed. You clog our roads, and pollute our air. Stay home!!!

BigPrune 8 years, 5 months ago

The easy answer is Lawrence needs to split into two. Then the parasites of the community can try to figure out how to pay for all their big city services they demand. They can keep the bus service. KU and old west Lawrence and downtown can be their own town, and the rest of Lawrence can be free. Bet the taxes would be much less for the New Lawrence people.

average 8 years, 5 months ago

@BigPrune -

"New Lawrence" would still have the current city commission. 4 of the current 5 live west of Iowa, 3 west of Folks Rd, and the people in "Old Lawrence" didn't vote for them, either.

George Lippencott 8 years, 5 months ago

Interesting article, however, I am having trouble deciding whether it is meaningful or another sales pitch for more of our tax money for business development. Let us see! We have a lower per capita GDP then most of the region and most of our sister university cities. What exactly does that mean?

Not all of the comparatives are bedroom communities to a state capital or a major urban area. It also does not look like many of the comparatives have solicited let alone obtained a significant retiree population –as we apparently have. Both groups would not contribute to a local GDP as they either produce nothing or produce it somewhere else. There could easily be other factors that might influence the information presented. If the data were adjusted for such effects, would that significantly change the interpretation?

Since the methodology used to determine the GDP information is not presented should we accept the article on faith or should the author have been of more help in presenting exactly how he reaches the opinion of our need for more business development? Are we being handled once again?

George Lippencott 8 years, 5 months ago

merrill (Anonymous) says…

Do you own land in the older sections of town?

You want me to pay for you even though you invited me here? I suspect that we were "invited" as a money source but I am not ready to go to helping you increase the value of your property at the expense of mine!

gl0ck0wn3r 8 years, 5 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

igby 8 years, 5 months ago

There's nothing that can be done about it now! It's 20 years too late. Industry growth takes time and investment. The leaders in Lawrence, in the past and the present have catered to the local money, ie, builders of residential and commercial sales, other than that, what professional leaders we have had from the University driven political pushes have been liberal and full of green-dream, with a few for lab-science . A bad combination headed for financial screeching halt.

Would it of mattered if things had been different? It's hard to say, the collapse of the world economy has changed everything, just look at other towns that were depending on blue collar manufacturing and the despair that they're dealing with now in this economy slump.

Lets hope the University driven cash flow is not pinched off as well. How many years can people stand a depression and still send their kids too school with walking around money? It's already tighter than dicks hat band. Just look at the turnover in shops and stores and measure the tight flow of the dollar here in Lawrence. First it's food, then shoes and clothes. Then it's hard wares and durable machinery. We can't change what we don't control and that's a fact. We can only hold on and ride it out. People who keep spending recklessly will have their day of remorse. So, slow down and think through just what your up against.

Jimo 8 years, 5 months ago

Comparison to "university towns" doesn't get us very far.

In reviewing the list of these "comp" cities, I note that, with the possible exception of St. Cloud, all of these places are far from any other metropolitan area. If Lawrence were similarly situated, a significant amount of services and industry that safely exist now in Topeka or KC would have to exist in Lawrence. Given the close proximity of Lawrence to these other places however is duplicative and makes little economic sense. Further, a significant amount of trade from more rural surrounding communities that have little choice but to concentrate toward isolated cities such as Grand Junction, Colo. or Johnson City, Tenn., have other and unavoidably superior alternatives in Topeka or KC.

So, redraw the "metro" as Topeka-Lawrence, KCK, and JoCo and then look at the numbers again.

whynaut 8 years, 5 months ago

Not all growth is good. Obviously. Opening a communities economic doors and real estate windows to any national or international business interest that sees an opportunity can quickly transform communities that were once pleasant, unique in their culture, and locally focused, into communities of commercial ogres, vapid in culture, and focused more on feeding the mutant corporate octopus that has tentacles of interest in a thousand other communities around the nation, or the world.

You think Lawrence is not special in it's culture compared to it's KS neighbors? Spend a week in Wichita, Topeka, Salina, El Dorado, Newton, MacPherson, or any other town with one or more Wal-Marts, Walgreens, Home Depots, or Applebees located on it's outskirts (or what used to be it's outskirts) that have all but left the local economy on life support. If not for KU, Lawrence would be culturally indistinguishable from any of these. Those opposed to smart growth at the expense of losing the city's identity are obviously not a part of that identity. Those who think Lawrence is not at least unique in its culture are obviously not experiencing that culture, and I would suggest they try at some point, cause it's pretty cool.

whynaut 8 years, 5 months ago


Not all growth is bad. Obviously. It's all about quality. My office used to be in W. Lawrence, and I would drive past 6th and Wak at least twice a day. If you haven't been out there recently, there's a tremendous amount of development going on next to the Free State High. Not sure what all they're putting in there, but the first two things to go up were Taco Bell, and CVS. Yay. Just what we need don't you think? CVS - a pharmacy that doubles as a general store, built literally right across the street from Wal-Mart - a general store that doubles as a pharmacy. Two of the largest chains in their markets nation/worldwide, battling it out for the dollars of Lawrence tax payers right across the street from each other. And there's Taco Bell, providing area digestive systems with a wider variety of indigestible materials, throwing it's hat in the competitive ring with Mickey D's, Arby's, A&W, and (my colon turns inside out at the thought) Pizza Street.

If I'm not mistaken, the idea of "smart growth" was geared to prevent asinine situations like this; to prevent the beige, asphalt, and neon sprawl vomit that drowns the local economy and stains it's identity.

Is there a reason why we can't market areas, such as the large swath of land next the Free State, to builders and businesses who provide leases to local entrepreneurs? Is there a reason why we can't opt for investors who might wish to diversify our identity over those who, inadvertently as they may do so, eventually assimilate it? If instead of Wal-Mart, CVS, and Taco Bell, how about building a quaint little foot traffic market place where local businesses could set up shop. I'd venture out there and support support something like that. The way it's looking like it's going to develop, I'll likely avoid it like the plague.

Is it illegal to provide special privileges to local investors and entrepreneurs? I don't know, it may very well be. Surely, though, there's some sort of incentive that we could provide to encourage local business to move into the more culturally arid and corporately saturated commercial hubs in south and west Lawrence that are slowly but steadily siphoning dollars away from the only locally dominated commercial strongholds we have left in downtown, the Malls, Crestview, and yes, Haskell Sq.


whynaut 8 years, 5 months ago


There is a wealth of well educated, underemployed young people in this town chomping at the bit to either start careers in their respective fields, or to start something on their own. Any idea of "smart growth" should consider this a resource and factor it into the equation. They stay here because they love the town, it's culture, and they can identify with it. But that will only take you so far. Eventually, if no opportunities present themselves, they will head for pastures more green and less beige, asphalt, and neon. Throwing roadblocks in front of the culture vultures doesn't strike me as stifling growth, because it's an undesirable growth. But it should go hand in hand with an earnest attempt at keeping the talent, education, and culture (not to mention the locally loyal) here in Lawrence by opening as many doors for them as possible.

BigPrune 8 years, 5 months ago

Pizza Street hasn't been in business for over a year, and there's most likely a reason the space still sits empty. The parking lot is no longer considered large enough to support the space if it is rented. Something special given to Lawrence by the Progressives that has created false vacancies throughout Lawrence.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.