Archive for Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Oread cell towers raise concerns

Cell towers on top of the Oread hotel are raising concerns with the city. The towers bring the building's total height to more than 150 feet, higher than what was originally proposed.

September 30, 2009, 12:00 a.m. Updated September 30, 2009, 9:36 a.m.


The four tallest towers on The Oread are individual cell towers for companies like AT&T, Sprint and other telephone companies. This view of the hotel is taken from the north side of the building, which faces the Kansas University campus to the south.

The four tallest towers on The Oread are individual cell towers for companies like AT&T, Sprint and other telephone companies. This view of the hotel is taken from the north side of the building, which faces the Kansas University campus to the south.

They may be the most unusual cellular telephone towers in Lawrence.

As the Oread hotel development takes its place in the Lawrence skyline, the four 50-foot cellular telephone towers atop the building are generating attention — and some questions about whether the design of the hotel building was properly presented to city commissioners for approval.

City planning director Scott McCullough confirmed Tuesday that official drawings submitted to the city showed the towers — which also will double as flagpoles — being 33 feet shorter than what they actually are.

“We probably should have asked for a better depiction of what the maximum structure could look like with the flagpoles,” McCullough said.

But McCullough said the towers are legal. That’s because in addition to the drawings, the developers submitted several notes that were attached to the final development plan. One of the notes — one of about 55 presented in footnote form — said the towers ultimately could increase the total height of the building to 156 feet.

McCullough said the written notes take precedence over the drawings.

“We knew of the note,” McCullough said. “We were not surprised by the height of the towers.”

But at a March 3 City Commission meeting when the plans were presented, commissioners were not clearly told that the height of the building was growing so significantly.

Instead, city commissioners were provided a staff memo that said the new height of the building would be 123 feet, up from 114 feet because some elevator equipment needed to be added to the roof.

The issue of adding the four cellular towers was addressed in another part of the memo. But the memo did not mention how much height the towers would add to the building. Instead, it showed a drawing that depicts the towers being about the same height as the elevator towers. In reality, the towers are about 33 feet taller than shown in the drawing.

Read the fine print

McCullough agreed that the only way commissioners or the public would have known that the height of the building — including the towers — had increased from 123 feet to 156 feet is to have read the one technical note on the plan.

“If we didn’t highlight the note, it is because it was a very large project and we didn’t highlight every detail of it,” McCullough said.

But the height of the building had been a hotly debated topic with the public. City and planning commissioners struggled for months over how tall the building should be. The idea of adding cellular towers to the top of the building was proposed late in the process, after city and planning commissioners already had approved most of the project.

“I think the staff did not do its job here, or was just plain intimidated,” said Dennis Domer, dean emeritus of the Kansas University School of Architecture and critic of the building’s design.

He said the towers are such a prominent feature of the building that the public should have had the opportunity to see and comment on what it would look like.

“They add significantly to the silhouette of that building and the skyline,” Domer said.

Other concerns

Some neighbors, though, said they didn’t mind. Carol vonTersch, who lives near the hotel, said the towers had not created significant discussion among members of the Oread Neighborhood Association.

“It certainly grew from the time the neighborhood association first looked at it and supported it, but that is not to say that the neighborhood association is displeased,” vonTersch said.

She said neighbors were more concerned with parking issues, which they believe have been addressed well by the project.

City Commissioner Mike Amyx said he also was fine with the tower issue. He said the fact that the information about the potential height of the towers was included in the notes was enough.

“Do they take away from the facility?” Amyx asked. “In my opinion, they do not. I think it is a gorgeous facility and will fill a lot of needs.”

Nancy Longhurst, general manager for the hotel, said she didn’t have specific information about how the cell phone towers were designed. Attempts to reach Thomas Fritzel — who leads the hotel’s development group that includes Lawrence businessmen Tim Fritzel and Todd Sutherland — were not successful. An attempt to reach the project’s lead architect with NSPJ Architects also was not successful.

The hotel is scheduled to open in January.


concernedcit 8 years ago

How does one have the arrogance to just add 33' to a building and everyone at the city just roll over? This is unacceptable behavior from the developer and the city staff. How can I take them seriously with future submittals? They submitted a plan and they should abide with the plan and lower the towers to the approved height. Height was a huge deal with the citizens. Remember they are not approved above the approved height. My word man, this is why we the approval process. This is why we have a city planning staff, planning board and city commission. Guys please do your jobs.

leftylucky 8 years ago

If the city commission was told the building is 123 ft with the towers then it should be 123 ft. The cell phone towers are quit ugly. Tear them down and make them the height of 123 ft. If this is the procedure for the planning commission then all plans submitted will start having fine print that the public will never see. Heck who needs a plan if you have fine print.

LogicMan 8 years ago

They make the place look like an old, abandoned factory, IMHO. Too bad.

notwhatyourthink 8 years ago

Did you read the article! The city said it was informed. It is just that everyone didn't read all the notes.

Lefty Guess what the city commission doesn't get to approve every building or aspect of all plans. Every building permit doesn't go before the commission. That is the job of the Codes dept.

You people whine about sales tax being down and how high your property taxes are on your dinky house. Then someone wants to build something that will bring people here to spend money and you whine about that. Give me a break

Paul R Getto 8 years ago

An ugly top-off to an ugly addition to the Lawrence "skyline."

Kris_H 8 years ago

You won't object if you get better cell phone reception, will you? What's another 30 feet for four sticks? The whole thing is ugly anyway; they won't add much to the general ugliness.

devobrun 8 years ago

"They may be the most unique cellular telephone towers in Lawrence."

Unique: one of a kind. singular. none like it.

Unusual: out of the ordinary.

Newspaper reporters: neither of the above.

Look Chad, nothing can be very one-of a-kind. It can't be the most nothing-like-it. It is either unique or it isn't.

When you plug in the definition of the word unique, your opening sentence is ridiculous. I didn't bother reading the rest of the article.

bondmen 8 years ago

Our concern should be the epidemic of attention-less driving on out streets and highways. Other drivers with their passengers and walkers and bikers move in peril. Towers like this foster serious road hazards now known as absentee driving, when the one behind the wheel is talking, texting or surfing the internet.

puddleglum 8 years ago

typical dirtball-developer behavior.

how can anyone be surprised?

gccs14r 8 years ago

Whoever started calling it the Eyesoread is right on. The towers just make it worse.

Beelzebub 8 years ago

Yeah sure..."it was a very large project and we didn’t highlight every detail of it”...but did manage to bury this little detail. Who are they kidding? Fritzels and their architect unavailable for comment...hah! Stick to the story fellas...everyone knows it's B.S. but as long as no one admits to the deception you're good to go.

Is arky-tek awake yet?

thepianoman 8 years ago

Yeah, everytime I see these towers on the building....."tacky" comes to mind....They loook very bad.....

Matt Schwartz 8 years ago

big money to city of lawrence says, "Move b#tch , out of the way."

jayhawklawrence 8 years ago

I think the towers will look great with Christmas lights in a couple of months.

How about a Santa and reindeers heading into the Kansas sky?

Jobs, entertainment and a great view. I can't wait to party.

Randall Barnes 8 years ago


Matt Warman 8 years ago

When flags are on them, no one will care. Embrace progress.

Flap Doodle 8 years ago

That helicopter-like noise you hear from the direction of Emporia is William Allen White spinning in his grave.

Beelzebub 8 years ago

Who was it that coined the phrase "I'm laughing all the way to the bank?" P.T. Barnum?

Beelzebub 8 years ago

Oops...sorry...did we forget to mention the heliport?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

Are presenters for developments such as this under oath at city commission meetings?

Apparently not. With the height of this building being a very major (if not the most major) issue in the design of this building, there was very clear and intentional deception in the public hearings on this-- likely on the part of the developers and their architects as well as city staff and commissioners.

We deserve better.

notit 8 years ago

Just don't look up and you wont even see it.

hujiko 8 years ago

Is it just me, or is that building getting uglier and uglier? the style is reminiscent of some KU architecture, but they failed to pull it off.

corduroypants 8 years ago

Hell, slap some dopey "sculptures" on them and call it Bartle Hall West. Hideous.

jhawkjourno 8 years ago

"They may be the most unique cellular telephone towers in Lawrence."

I'm with devobrun and snap_pop_no_crackle. Somewhere up there John Bremner is cursing.

Where's the copy desk?

Beelzebub 8 years ago

That's cool about the bars...maybe the Axis/821 crowd will go there to problem for the neighborhood since bullets will bounce around in the underground garage.

pmsharp 8 years ago

Why did you overlook the attached note??Read the fine print!!!!!!Get on with the rat killing!!

Steve Jacob 8 years ago

Pulled from the internet, so it might not be total accurate...

"Depending upon the location, the cell tower lease of the space on the tower would net between $18,000 to $30,000 per year.

The average tower can accommodate four users or up to $120,000 PER YEAR in income.

Assuming that the tower costs $10,000 a year to operate, that is a net income of $110,000 per year off of a structure that costs up to $200,000 to build."

BigPrune 8 years ago

At least they aren't 300' tall! The City was notified in advance. I wonder who is complaining, the usual suspects who have nothing better to do? What color are the towers anyway, ebony or ivory, but who cares?

At first I thought they were smoke stacks.

Beelzebub 8 years ago

"Assuming that the tower costs $10,000 a year to operate, that is a net income of $110,000 per year off of a structure that costs up to $200,000 to build.”

Yeah...but we forgot about the towers when we submitted plans to the city.

Beelzebub 8 years ago


"The process leads to favoritism for politically connected developers, lawyers, economic development directors and other implementers. "

"Funding often goes toward what have been traditionally private improvements. Improvements that developers profit from. When the public "invests" in these improvements it is the developers that still receive the return..."

tbaker 8 years ago

How much tax revenue are the cell phone towers generating for the city? Didn't I read a story in the LJW about how crunched for cash the city is?

How much are the cell phone companies paying the hotel in lease fees? How much income tax revenue is generated from those payments? How many jobs at the hotel depend on that income stream?

Gosh - almost forgot - whats this done for signal strength in Lawrence? How many additional people now have access to cellular communication as a result of this?

Wheres the down side? Inept government officials not doing their job perhaps? What a revelation.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

"Wheres the down side? Inept government officials not doing their job perhaps? "

All good questions, tbaker, but they should be asked before the project is built, not after. And do you really think "ineptitude" is the proper explanation for the city apparently not doing their job?

thelonious 8 years ago

Hey, if the City Commission needs to save some money, I'd suggest getting rid of the CIty Planning Director and the entire City Planning Commission. It is unclear what we are paying them for - a trained monkey with a rubber stamp could do the same thing, apparently the ability to read and speak up is not required, and the monkey would be a lot cheaper. The monkey wouldn't give the developers any problems, either, as long as they gave him a banana now and again.

Bob_Keeshan 8 years ago

The developers are not at fault here.

The city staff, however, should be fired.

Flap Doodle 8 years ago

I bet they've got great drainage.

BigPrune 8 years ago

Much ado about nothin'......that's the Lawrence complainers.

These people are taking a tremendous risk. They want to bring people to Lawrence (just to visit). What's so wrong with that? This building is for visitors only, with the exception of a few condos. Your little group of people should be happy, not mad. If you didn't know these were cell towers, you wouldn't be complaining. So all of our collective cell reception will be better.

When the stone facade is complete, the building will look cool. Go ride your bike or take a hike. I'm tired of you outsiders trying to stop everything. Aren't liberals supposed to be for change?

Jimo 8 years ago

No doubt that the City will get it right the next time they approve construction of a towering monstrosity.

zzgoeb 8 years ago

wow, I'm shocked!!! A developer speaking out of both sides of their mouth, while the bureaucrat in charge smiles and're kidding, in America, the greatest country in the world? Get O'Reilly and Hannity on the at 11!!!!

Angel Gillaspie 8 years ago

if they want to do something, they should tax them extra - add 1% tax times four for each foot over the original proposed height. but really, what does it hurt? who does it hurt? sounds like you're making a mountian out of a molehill, IMHO

Beelzebub 8 years ago

"Much ado about nothin'……that's the Lawrence complainers."

"Such is our comfortable tradition and sure faith. Would he not betray himself an alien cynic who should otherwise portray Main Street, or distress the citizens by speculating whether there may not be other faiths?" - Sinclair Lewis

BigPrune 8 years ago

Restrictions imposed by the Progressives makes it only costlier for small ma and pop stores - (tax increases cause rent increases because appraisals are factored higher because those are based on going rents, much higher start up costs with unnecessary City hoops to jump through) the only businesses that have the financial wherewithal to pay for the burden are regional and national chains. I'm sure the truth hurts. The Progressive mindset has shot themselves in the foot. Most ma and pop dreamers think a business will start making money from the get go, never taking into account that they need to have money in the bank set aside to personally live off of for at least a year, plus now all the extra expenses Lawrence requires to open a business in town.

Beelzebub 8 years ago

Babbitt reflects on his career; he exclaims to himself that his work is “mechanical business — a brisk selling of badly built houses.”

nytemayr 8 years ago

Hmmm.. don't the rules say that a structure over 150ft must have flashing airplane warning lights?

How do you feel about bright flashing strobe lights?

I think the city should take the position that all the plans submitted under 150ft where consistant with the same set of rules and that proceeding with construction pass 150ft brought the structure under additional rules not considered or approved by the commission.

Boston_Charley 8 years ago

Interesting to read the comments on the story about the Historic Resources Commission denying the project in 2007 (such as, the HRC commissioners should all be shot), then read these comments about the building as it now stands. The horse is already out of the barn, folks.

Beelzebub 8 years ago

14 CFR Ch. I § 77.13 Construction or alteration requiring notice: (a) Except as provided in § 77.15, each sponsor who proposes any of the following construction or alteration shall notify the Administrator in the form and manner prescribed in § 77.17: (1) Any construction or alteration of more than 200 feet in height above the ground level at its site.

Bob_Keeshan 8 years ago

JackRipper (Anonymous) says…

Bob I'm getting sick of hearing that it is the fault of the city when they are following the orders of the developer paid for commission. Should the staff rise up against the people who can make their life hell? Isn't it the commission that approves these things and surely the professional bunch can read special footnotes can't they?

The staff presented information to Commissioners under the auspices of it being a complete review of the project.

The staff should be fired, as they are not serving their employers well. If you can't "rise up against people who can make your life hell," then you should be replaced with someone who will. It is called public service.

mr_right_wing 8 years ago

I really don't care to read any complaints on this; you people driving along, not watching where you're going, or looking out for pedestrians, get sooo upset if you lose your call.

Shut up, watch where your going, and deal with the trade-off of better coverage for your texting and trivial babbling!

(I haven't ever owned a cell phone, never will so....)

remember_username 8 years ago

Maybe if the developers shared some of the profit from the towers to repair potholes or something it might reduce the public outrage - good PR is worth it.

I'm glad now to know what the towers are. I was wondering why the designers wanted to make the building look like a factory.

Beelzebub 8 years ago

"These people are taking a tremendous risk."


Don't you mean "These developers are taking a tremendous risk with Lawrence taxpayers' money."

Sigmund 8 years ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says… "My, my! It would seem from this thread that someone is being vindicated, doesn't it?"

Nope, SvenCool is still a moron. In the gazzillion nonsensical posts he made, I don't remember one about cell phone towers. However, I might have missed it.

BigPrune 8 years ago

JackRipper, downtown went from the lowest rent district to the highest rent district overnight, but our population didn't change. That's why you don't see ma and pops.

Lawrence talks a big game about jobs, but 10 years or so ago, Lawrence ran one big employer out of town. Looks like someone wanted to bring jobs to town.

Boston_Corbett 8 years ago

When was downtown ever the lowest rent district?

Beelzebub 8 years ago

Jobs my ass...Jobs are a cost of doing business. Jobs what...because business owners enjoy sharing their profits with people who can't afford to belong to their country club? Raising the almighty "Jobs" mantra is like wrapping the place in the flag.

shockchalk 8 years ago

consumer1's 8:01 post was perfect. Quit whining about the Oread Hotel and it's towers. The hotel has a beautiful design and it improved the neighborhood immensely. Great job by the engineer who combined the flag poles with cell towers. Very progressive indeed.

Boston_Corbett 8 years ago

Monkeys. Finally something gurlfriend knows something about: Poo-flinging.

BigAl 8 years ago

This will be a nice addition to Lawrence. It has already produced several jobs with more to come. It has helped out several local sub-contractors and suppliers. In addition, The Oread is paying a 1% tax back to the city on all building material it is buying.

Once complete, it will bring people to town and they will spend even more money here.

Even though some people like to whine, this is a win-win situation.

DGL 8 years ago

The towers should each have red, blinking air-traffic warning lights, at a minimum.

puddleglum 8 years ago

the smoke stacks do indeed make the whole building look like a factory......but I actually like that. It reminds me of eastern-bloc communitst architecture. perhaps it is a sign that Obama is here to stay, with his socialist ways blanketing the nation? In fact, it kinda resembles a trophy for the current administration.

I get perfect coverage anywhere in lawrence, and don't need no cell towers, thankyou. But I do like the smokestacks. could we get some fake smoke to come out of the tops? then it would look like there really is something productive coming from up there.

puddleglum 8 years ago

I like lew's idea of blocking off the view from the hotel with extra boxes and towers on the east side of the stadium. perhaps the only thing 'cool' he has ever done.

Beelzebub 8 years ago

"Gee, I wonder why bub didn't include the link to those quotations. Afraid your source would reveal too much, bub?"

Not so fast with the personal attacks there Pilgrim...

Too much of that on this LJWorld comment thing...

Alexander Neighbors 8 years ago

Bravo !!

Ljworld I hope you were paid for this advertisement. This is by far the best way to advertise cell tower space on your building. if All 4 carriers jump on board that could easily generate over

$9,000.00 a month.

commissioner kick back anyone ?

lgreen17 8 years ago

The biggest change to the Lawrence Skyline since the Leid Center, and the city planning director says “We probably should have asked for a better depiction of what the maximum structure could look like with the flagpoles,”

Your fired.

svenway_park 8 years ago

I wonder if one of those WWII searchlights on top would reach the LHS football field? Of course it would also hit a couple of houses behind it to the SW too.

sinverguenza 8 years ago

devobrun (Anonymous) says…

“They may be the most unique cellular telephone towers in Lawrence.”

Unique: one of a kind. singular. none like it.

Unusual: out of the ordinary.

Newspaper reporters: neither of the above.

Look Chad, nothing can be very one-of a-kind. It can't be the most nothing-like-it. It is either unique or it isn't.

When you plug in the definition of the word unique, your opening sentence is ridiculous. I didn't bother reading the rest of the article.

I smell a journalism student. Heck yeah.

Bradley Kemp 8 years ago

Those four cell towers are the best-looking part of the building.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 years ago

Ha, ha, ha, ha!! I haven't had so much fun reading these blogs in a long time! I am having a hard time figuring out who these losers are who have time to fume and fuss about this issue. What the hell is it to them???? Does it obstruct their view? Of What? Does it cause cancer?? It might, those toy plastic phones seem to have become a scapegoat for a variety of ailments, mostly sortness of the brain. People too stupid to realize that I do not want to hear their mundane conversations in the grocery store checkout or in a resturant. Geeezzzzzzeee. What a tempest in a teapot.

igby 8 years ago

May be that there should be a marker light on top so that some idiot in a single engine plane does not tag the towers and land in someones yard.

Don't really mind that they're there, however, the flags really cause a stir in the wind. It sounds like a roaring water fall of poly carts being rolled down the street 24/7. A fluttering roar of what sounds like plastic tubs being dragged down the street behind horses without shoes. I think the two big flags are out of tune with the two small flags.

Are there any flag tuners in town that can tune these flags to play the "Rolling Stones", rather that of "Cobain", noise?

bearded_gnome 8 years ago

Still lacks Zeppalin mooring mast!

okay, complaining about cell towers?

then take out your cell phone(s), and run them over with your car. probem solved.

I bet an evil developer built the building where Jackie-ripper is housed in the "rubber room."

Jeff Kilgore 8 years ago

While I don't think that the poles are all that unattractive, it never ceases to amaze me that there are those who actually believe that they have a say in a matter where business is concerned. If business wants this or that, well, they get it. It doesn't matter whether it's a beautiful clean coal plant, or a major hog farm, or a beautiful cellphone tower. In the eyes of business, human = consumer. That is the mentality of those who want to make money, money, money, and the only way to beat them is to make more money. The only thing that matters is money. You can blame the Resmuglicans all you want, but it's their country. You only live here.

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

When taxpayers tax dollars are INVOLVED taxpaying citizens SHOULD HAVE major impact on development decisions. Most all projects increase taxes because the projects are NOT paying back the community.

It makes citizens de facto investors.

Commissioners are not necessarily required to approve any project contrary to popular belief.

Local voters need the power to vote on new projects that which impact our tax bills and our cost of living which is most every agenda item with the city commission. Our governing body,the city and planning commissions, are loaded with conflicts of interest.

I say voting taxpayers can make the most fiscal responsible decisions. Certainly cannot be anymore irresponsible.

Give taxpayers power over their tax dollars and the ability to create economic growth NOT economic displacement. This vote could happen annually... every second Tuesday in April.

tbaker 8 years ago

Merrill - I concur. No legitimate project ever feared an election.

Of course we could elect decent people to be commissionaires (or is it Commissar?) in the first place. Alas, by the time folks get to that part of the ballot, people aren't paying attention, or no one even challenges them and just the incumbent is running.

If we the voter keep doing what we're doing, we'll keep getting what we're getting.

KS 8 years ago

What is the big deal? They look like flag poles. Some people have too much time on their hands. Having said that, I noticed that about 90% of the postings on this thread were made during "normal" working hours. Hummmmm! Maybe a lot of folks are doing this stuff on company time? Some employers need to look at the computers of their employees.

berkman 8 years ago

HAHAHA! They video taped the wrong poles for the story. The video shows the 4 flag poles but the story is about the 4 cell towers on the other side of the building. Right now there is only one vendor that is installing equipment and that is AT&T. They are mostly done and should be up and running soon and with a decent data backhaul, 12 T1s.

bearded_gnome 8 years ago

Give taxpayers power over their tax dollars and the ability to create economic growth NOT economic displacement. This vote could happen annually… every --and yet, Merrill wants the democrat house/senate/pres to foist a monstrous nationalized health insurance compulsion forcing confiscatory charges and using the IRS for enforcement, without a vote. if voted on, his plan would fail. Merril stronly supported John Edwards for presiden.

some of the same complainers above said the Oread Inn couldn't make it financialy; here we have a profitable income stream.

now, just add 24/7 live video looking n/s/w/e, put adds on them, accesible for free via the web.

Curtis Martell 8 years ago

Seems like a lot of griping over nothing. All of you throw away your cell phone right now! Have you ever noticed the dozens of other really ugly cell towers around town? On balance these are the most asthetically pleasing cell towers I've ever seen. Please move to remote place in the Ozarks and quit complaining about every single thing that happens in Lawrence Kansas.

svenway_park 8 years ago

Pilgrim2, no, there is a critical difference between the TCJ and LJW articles.

I'm with repaste on this one. The LJW article appears to have been sanitized. A particular company which is frequently mention in the TCJ is totally absent in the LJW.

Read the TCJ article

svenway_park 7 years, 11 months ago

The unemployed architect is back in town.

Will J Kealing be mocked, or will he enforce his ban on the forum parriah - cool/bronze/spiderman/ariadne et al.

2Bfrank, you are on death row.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 11 months ago

More Astroturf! More drainage! Relax and have a popsicle, frank. It's a cool and fruity treat on a fall day.

bearded_gnome 7 years, 11 months ago

hey! 2bfrank, put some dried oregano on it, it won't taste so bad!

my gawd, what's bronze/cool/spiderman/ariadne/jaguar/rusty2 et al et al up to now, thrown off over ten times now?

Jonathan Kealing, will it take him trying to out me again to get his arse TOSsed off?

Boston_Corbett 7 years, 11 months ago

You see, in the old days, Cool could make 20 posts on his own particular articles of interest and it would automatically be in the "most-posted"

And he would do this for article after article.

The LJW admins have been smart enough to change the algorithms to reduce this abuse, but here he pops up again.

Good call-out to Svenwaypark.

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