Archive for Thursday, September 24, 2009

Oread owners share view from the top

‘I’ve never seen Douglas County quite like this’

Owners of The Oread, 1200 Oread Ave., along with management, construction members and the media, gather Wednesday on the top-floor observation deck of the structure for a celebration of reaching the height of the building construction.

Owners of The Oread, 1200 Oread Ave., along with management, construction members and the media, gather Wednesday on the top-floor observation deck of the structure for a celebration of reaching the height of the building construction.

September 24, 2009


The view from The Oread

6News provides a sneak peak at Lawrence from the top of the under-construction Oread hotel. Enlarge video

Hotel features

Here are some facts about The Oread, at 12th and Indiana streets.

• Size: 99 guest rooms, plus about nine privately owned condos that will be on the sixth, seventh and eighth floors of the building.

• Height: Nine stories above ground, plus four levels below ground that includes 200 parking spaces. Altogether, the building is 113 feet tall, which is one foot below the maximum height the city ultimately set. Previously, the hotel had been billed as a seven-story structure, but the city allowed for changes in the number of stories as long as the overall height regulations were met.

• Amenities: The project features three hotel-operated restaurants, including: Bird Dog Bar, which will feature traditional bar fare and drinks; 521, a more upscale restaurant featuring American cuisine; and a Slice of History, a pizza and salad bar restaurant. Also on tap is a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop, a Blue Bell ice cream counter, a Lemon Bliss Spa, and a KU Bookstore souvenir and gift shop. The hotel also will offer one nightclub, The Cave, a dance club 80 feet below ground in the hotel’s lower level.

• Employees: The hotel is expected to have about 230 full- and part-time employees.

You look the Campanile in the eye.

Downtown Lawrence is stretched out before you — the top of the US Bank Tower exposed, the blue Granada sign popping out in a way that it doesn’t from Massachusetts Street. You can catch glimpses of the Clinton Lake dam to the west, semis on I-70 to the north and trees as far as the eye can see to the south.

“I’ve never seen Douglas County quite like this,” said City Commissioner Lance Johnson.

This is why developers of The Oread wanted their hotel — at 12th and Indiana streets on the north edge of Kansas University — to stretch nine stories above the ground.

‘A special place’

On Wednesday, executives of the hotel showed off the top floor terrace of the hotel to invited community leaders and media members to celebrate the completion of the main structure of the hotel that is expected to open for business in January.

“Our vision has been to bring a special place into the city of Lawrence, the University of Kansas and the Midwest,” said Nancy Longhurst, who will serve as general manager of the 99-room hotel.

First impressions were positive from those who took the terrace tour.

“There’s not a better way to see the entire campus at one time,” said Jeff Weinberg, assistant to Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.

The rows of red roofs that line Jayhawk Boulevard were mentioned as a favorite sight of some who attended the event. For others, the smaller details deeper on the horizon — the balcony of the chancellor’s house, the crown of Mount Blue, the outline of a concrete plant in far-off eastern Lawrence — captivated their attentions.

“The really fun part is just coming up here, looking around and guessing what the different landmarks are,” said Thomas Fritzel, who leads a group of local businessmen including Tim Fritzel and Todd Sutherland who are building the project. “We all believe that this hotel will help bring people to our community, which is something we desperately need.”

Talk of what type of economic development impact the nearly $40 million project is expected to have also was heavy on Wednesday. Judy Billings, director of the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau, said she expects the hotel to attract new conferences to the area.

She said several area meeting planners have begun to take tours of the project.

“There already is a lot of interest from groups that haven’t been so interested in Lawrence before,” Billings said. “It is not just a unique view. It is a unique property for this area. It is different than what you will find in Topeka or even in Kansas City.”


The hotel, though, is not expected to be the type of project that attracts large-scale conventions to the city. Billings said she expected smaller conferences — probably in the 100- to 200-person range — to become a staple of the hotel.

The hotel will include a ballroom that can accommodate 270 people, plus three smaller conference rooms that can hold 40 to 60 people each. Larger meeting spaces in the Kansas Union and the Kansas University Alumni Center also are within walking distance.

The hotel also will feature three outdoor terraces — a fifth-floor terrace that can hold about 300 people, the top-floor terrace that can accommodate about 190, and a smaller second-floor terrace.

All the terraces will be available for conference and wedding events, but Longhurst said there also will be several opportunities each year for the general public to have access to the terraces.

“We’re planning on having taco nights or burger nights up here on the terrace,” Longhurst said. “And we’ll have outdoor furniture and all that to make it very comfortable. We want the community to be able to see this.”


igby 8 years, 5 months ago

Can't really put my finger on it but there is something weird looking about the stone facade. This may sound a little crazy, but the logic is all wrong. It's kind of unnatural looking and it boggles my common sense like Naga-hide on a sofa or skim milk in a milk shake. Like paneling in a trailer house that looks like wood but it's plastic. Like a huge brass and crystal chandler hanging from a small thin chain. There's something weird about the stone work and it makes it look sort of canny.

Don't mean to hurt anyone feelings because we know your proud of it.

igby 8 years, 5 months ago

It's more like something from the "Flintstone's", Betty and Barney with love it, and all Bam Bam's friends. However, Fred and Wilma will take Pebbles else where. Get it!

igby 8 years, 5 months ago

I like the sample in the second design that looked more Art-Deco, Clark Kent, Harry Truman looking atropolistic, Chicago style look. Like a huge Jute Box with a 1940's twist.

This building is too stony-straight-up, without the breaks of depth in the stone work, it lacks the luster of fineness that stone art work of the past in buildings tell of an in depth personality of grandness and extrude of style . It too stone clad for such height and it looks .......too plain.

TopJayhawk 8 years, 5 months ago

Igby, You need to get a life. No one expects you to patranize the place anyway.
So, lighten up Frank-Lloyd Igby.

igby 8 years, 5 months ago

Top: On game day, you and Bam Bam, can hurl puke off the roof top, taco's and burgers, and calculate just how long it takes for the swill to hit the ground.

igby 8 years, 5 months ago

I'll drive by and honk so you and your mentally challenged buddies, that have a life, can take another drink. Lol.

Just don't throw those little blue plastic cups in my yard anymore. Please, Honk,

BigPrune 8 years, 5 months ago

Taco and burger, on the rooftop of Lawrence, sounds exciting.

hubcap 8 years, 5 months ago

''Get thee behind me,Satan.''(Jesus to Satan while they were on a high place overlooking campus.)

gccs14r 8 years, 5 months ago

I think I know what the problem is. It resembles mid-20th century Russian peasant stonework. It's out of place on that structure in this time.

The whole thing is a distracting eyesore and should never have been approved. The top of the hill should feature campus buildings, not some developer's wet dream.

RogueThrill 8 years, 5 months ago

What do I have to do to get served hors d'oeuvres on the roof of a building with sawhorse railings and honeypots?

Sean Livingstone 8 years, 5 months ago

"igby (Anonymous) says… Can't really put my finger on it but there is something weird looking about the stone facade. This may sound a little crazy, but the logic is all wrong."

Hey it caught your attention, didn't it?

lawrenceishome 8 years, 5 months ago

Can there please be a bar on the very top??

There is NO place in Lawrence to have a few cocktails while soaking in the beautiful scenery. As far as a nightclub called "The Cave" that sounds silly. Who wants to party underground when just right above you is the best view in Lawrence?

middleamerica 8 years, 5 months ago

What are those hideous flags and lightning rods?? Sorry but the design of this building is just vulgar-- it's already ugly, kitschy, and fake. What will it look like in ten years? STOP trying to copy historic architecture, nobody wants to live in Thomas Kinkade land.

Also, who's idea was it to replace local businesses on the former site with chains like Blue Bell and Jimmy John's? This kind of development blights faster than JoCo - goodbye Lawrence.

jimmyjms 8 years, 5 months ago

"Hey guys, if look straight down and squint, you can see the remnants of what made Lawrence cool. With the completion of this monstrosity, we're one step closer to being Manhattan. Way to go, my rich buddies."

Maracas 8 years, 5 months ago

That building looks awful. Just awful. Fits in like a KSU fan in the KU student section at Memorial.

middle_of_the_road 8 years, 5 months ago

how do I delete my "comment" account on LJWorld?

Flap Doodle 8 years, 5 months ago

They should have covered the building with Astroturf & made cool's head explode.

jonas_opines 8 years, 5 months ago

Hideous flagpoles? LMAO!

Really saw it for the first time yesterday. It's really so much of a disappointment. I'm so used to seeing the time-honored Lawrence traditional image of an ugly Short brick building with students drinking and puking at 2pm, and the lovely backdrop of First Management Clone Apartments, that I really just couldn't help but be disappointed.

mdt 8 years, 5 months ago

I'm with jonas. I think it is a very cool looking building, I love the stone. Would you rather it looked like the Alumni Center? I look forward to having a cocktail and enjoying the view from the patio bar, having a place to stay and a (hopefully) good restaurant on campus. I do agree that it is a real shame that the lower level retail restaurant space went to blue bell and jimmie johns. I worry about the traffic up Indiana, and am concerned about parking since you are not going to be allowed to park in their garage unless you are a guest of the hotel or pay a $10 valet parking fee. I also do not see how they are going to pay for the place, but that is not my problem. Good luck to them, I look forward to their opening.

middleamerica 8 years, 5 months ago

An Astroturf-clad exterior sounds amazing compared with the half-hearted, artificial-looking brick and stone, multiple flags(?!), lightning rods topped with bronze orbs, 'historic' arched windows, and - my favorite detail of all - A HUGE ENGLISH-STYLE 'CLOCKE.' It's like an architectural sundae (kind of like an Oreo Peanut Butter Mountain Dew McFlurry). Is this supposed to be ironic postmodernism?

Obviously the former site wasn't beautiful; no one is arguing that it was. The difference is that this thing is a nine-story tower of late capitalist excess that you can see from miles away. I feel uncomfortable that this thing will now, by virtue of size and location, become an icon of my town. How embarrassing.

riverdrifter 8 years, 5 months ago

I was just looking at it from 15 miles out at Signal Oak near Baldwin. Distance doesn't help this thing out, either. Good ol' Fraser looks as good and iconic as ever and is undiminished by this pill on the hill.

thelonious 8 years, 5 months ago

Marion says:

"99 rooms and a $30 million-plus construction cost?

Good luck amortising that!"

Boy is he right! I did some quick math with some off the cuff assumptions - 100 rooms at $125/night, 60% average occupancy, 360 days a year, 20% profit margin, yields only a little over $500k per year in profit. Even if they sell the 9 condos for a total of $9 million (just a guess), leaves $21 million of cost to pay back - comes out to over 40 years!

What I would like to know is 1) what is the total $$$ in millions that the city has kicked into this in the form of "tax abatements"? That may be part of the story in how they are going to make these numbers work, and 2) which bank financed this, and what pie-in-the-sky scenarios did the developers present to the bank? If there is a bank loan on this, it could easily become impaired withing three years if the developers' economic assumptions don't pan out (which they very well may not).

Of course, the developers might have just financed this themselves - hard to see it generating much of a return on investment on their invested capital (500k on 21 million is only 2.5%), but maybe they are playing for the long term, i.e. property could be worth $100 million in 20 years, then sell and cash out (and maybe pay back the bank).

At any rate, sure is hard to make these numbers work. This could easily become a giant (and I do mean giant) white elephant for the developers, KU and the City of Lawrence.

Oh well, build/develop at all costs!

d_prowess 8 years, 5 months ago

This will be the most popular and full hotel in Lawrence. Anyone that the university brings in will get put up there (visitors, prospective faculty), reservations will fill up as soon as the football and basketball schedules come out each year, and I am sure people will schedule their wedding receptions and such there instead of the Holidome. I don't think they will have any problem making money!

svenway_park 8 years, 5 months ago

Marion and Cool. What great business experts.

Add them together, and I think you get three trips to the bankruptcy clerks office.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 5 months ago

"Can there please be a bar on the very top??"

There probably will be-- but it'll be a private club. Can't have the hoi polloi spoiling the view for the Really Important People, now that they've used all those tax dollars to subsidize their newest playground.

brian1981 8 years, 5 months ago

A few months ago I thought the hotel looked like the squarish bridge of a supertanker, especially from the west (Memorial Stadium). Nothing since has changed my mind, and now we even have those weird lightning rod thingies to add a funnel/mast affect.

I think the idea for the hotel itself is great, I just think at this point it has been horribly executed. I hope in the next few months at the eleventh hour something magical happens to make it not look like crap. The thought of this giant cube wrecking our beautiful KU skyline makes me kind of sick.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 5 months ago


















svenway_park 8 years, 5 months ago

middleamerica sounds...... well, almost Cool.

Especially when he goes on talking about how neat Boulder and Denver are, and how astro-turf is bad.

probably a coincidence.

Kristine Bailey 8 years, 5 months ago

Really, what are those factory stack things? They're not flag poles, the flags are waving out front. I looked at the "previous" related articles and saw nothing like that in the drawings/view pictures. It looks like a factory!

bearded_gnome 8 years, 5 months ago

How'd they get those port-o-potties up there anyway?

---was choppers, no big deal. the real serious problem: how're they going to empty them when the PP's are done?

and hey, the Svenway memorial zeppalin mooring mast isn't up yet, more to come!

I love all the amazing business expertise on here!
besides the hotel rooms and condos, there's a bunch more revenue streams. that "cave" club should be worth a lot, charge for parking, rental for the chains in there, and as noted above wedding receptions and other celebrations. bars can pay well too.
besides, how much for those burger or taco nights? $20-per head?

who knows, put live cam video up on the top, put commercials on those feeds.
there's some other revenue streams.

I think this is going to make it financially.

agree that I'd rather see locals in instead of the chains.

so, now I have to close my south-facing window 'cuz somebody on the roof there could see in, eh?

bearded_gnome 8 years, 5 months ago

okay, though its a stone facing, Spiderman could still climb it, though he's a little rusty too. once at the top, he'll see the bronze bulbs on the lightning rods, and it should be nice and cool on the roof. if he brings a sea shell he can hear the ocean if he puts it to his ear. no matter how long he looks, he won't see a jaguar. yet, in the kitchen I'm sure they use dried oregano in their cooking and from there, he can look at Svenway park, and imagine the flooding due to the lhs fields, wishing for Ariadne's intervention. suppose he'll listen to some Coltrane music up on the roof too?

eventually, he'll have to depart the beloved Oread Inn, and return to the ground level of middleamerica.

igby 8 years, 5 months ago

The smoke stacks could be auto venting tubes from the basement parking levels.

Linda Aikins 8 years, 1 month ago

We were just inside The Oread and folks, it is beautiful! I hope you will take a minute just to go in and look around. The rooms are reasonably priced too.

The "smoke stacks" are actually cell phone towers as well as lightning rods.

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