Archive for Friday, April 9, 2010

Promising project

If parking plans pass city muster, a new mixed-use development at Ninth and New Hampshire streets could be a positive addition to downtown Lawrence.

April 9, 2010


There are a number of positive aspects to a seven-story, mixed-use building being proposed for the southwest corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets.

First, it’s good to see private developers willing to invest in such a project. The group, led by local businessman Doug Compton, is looking at a $9.5 million, seven-story building on the corner just east of the U.S. Bank tower. Plans call for 55 apartments on the top five floors, office space on the second four and retail space, perhaps including a fitness club and restaurant, on the ground floor.

The project would better utilize a prime central location in downtown Lawrence. A seven-story structure is a good, dense development that adds significant retail and residential space in a relatively small footprint.

Compton said his First Management company might occupy the second-floor office space, which would add about 50 employees to the downtown work force, along with tenants for the 55 apartments, all of whom who would help support downtown retail and other businesses. Compton said he envisions the studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments attracting a mix of young professionals and retirees who want to live downtown.

The area of the plan that may demand the most scrutiny from city officials is the group’s intention to depend on the city’s parking garage directly to the south to serve the development. The 500-space garage is rarely full, but the development would have a significant impact on the availability of parking there. The developers plan to add two interior connections to the new structure, but it’s unclear whether they would seek to set aside parking spaces for apartment tenants or simply advise them to buy long-term permits to park in the garage.

The city garage, of course, was intended from the beginning to support development in that area as part of the Downtown 2000 plan. The city created a TIF (tax increment financing) district with the idea that increased property taxes generated by new development there would be used to repay $8.6 million in bonds for the garage construction. Unfortunately, that development never occurred, forcing the city to find other funds to repay the debt. Another silver lining of the proposed new development is that it might help repay those bonds, which have a 20-year term that won’t run out until 2020.

Compton said the development group hasn’t made a final decision to proceed on the project, but plans have been submitted to city and construction bids went out last week, so the developers seem serious about moving ahead.

City officials should take a careful look at the plans — and maybe a second look at the parking issues — to make sure the proposed development is a good fit for that site, but the preliminary plans show what could be a promising project for Lawrence’s downtown.


paulette2 4 years ago

Svenway, state statutes are not 'technicalities'.

they are the same as DUI laws, and other criminal statutes.

someone may in fact be a distinguished professor but then in August of 2008 was in fact fined by the State Board of Technical Professions. FACT. no one on the forum had anything to do with that - it was between the State of Kansas and the professor.

as for your other hyerbole - please stop throwing lies out there.


svenway_park 4 years ago

HRC, oh, that is rich from Paulette.

Paulette2 was kicked off the HRC several years ago for many reasons, including his obvious gross conflict of interests ---- in particular his habit of hitting up of HRC applicants to provide them "ecological architectural" assistance, from himself, of course.

He was not re-appointed, which is actually very hard to do for a city advisory board.

Talk to the people at Van-Go Arts, (and other places) and learn about his abusive phone calls to them threatening things (because they did not hire him.)

Then read about his agitation of a professional practice complaint against a Distinguished Professor of Architecture on a technicality. (you can read about it in this newspaper) on the same issue. Yet this dude has NO DEGREE IN ARCHITECTURE, and can not even afford to own his own home, although he is in his 50's. He has engaged in similar abuse in other states.

The Journal World has allowed him back here, after banning him at least 10 times for his lies and multiple abuse. You be the judge.


Pilgrim2 4 years ago

paulette2 (anonymous) says…

project hasn't even made it through the HRC, Historic Resources Commission and LJW is smooshing it along.

Answer the question. What makes you think you're some archy-tek expert?


paulette2 4 years ago

project hasn't even made it through the HRC, Historic Resources Commission and LJW is smooshing it along. why rubber stamp this as Merrill points out?


paulette2 4 years ago

LJW whitewash job, as Merrill has pointed out.


commuter 4 years ago

Merrill- the reason for our high taxes is there are too many people like YOU wanting the government to fund YOUR PET projects.


laika 4 years ago

Merill, I would argue they are providing parking availability, in the garage. The main concern would be if renters or workers balked at the cost and tried to squeeze into the already overcrowded lots elsewhere. I would expect this would be more of a problem for workers, who might not be able to justify a ~$200 long term parking pass. People renting in a new development like this are probably the types who would shell out for it.

Now, what would be nice is an improved bus station in front of this building with an urban plaza type setup.


g_rock 4 years ago

Didn't occur to me until just now....Doug should be working on fighting that new homeless shelter for the good of this project. Now THAT may be interesting.


Richard Heckler 4 years ago

It is imperative that this community conduct a market capacity study to understand the market potential, before any vote can be taken on retail,residential or light industrial proposal.

Citizen taxpayers deserve to know how new development will impact property taxes,sales revenue and employment generated at other businesses in the community.

All new development is often mistaken for economic development when instead it could easily be promoting economic displacement instead of economic growth. Generally the people it affects the most are least likely to understand it.

Could this be a reason for our extraordinarily high taxes? Could this be a reason we might become the most expensive place to live and do business in Kansas?

Every developer that comes before a City or Planning Commission make their projects sound like they were written in Lake Wobegon where all the site plans are good looking and the economic impacts above average. The symptoms of retail saturation are everywhere.

Our governing bodies must remember there are still only so many retail and residential dollars available in any community and Lawrence is but a small town surrounded by established big city competition aka kcmo/joco and Topeka Metro.

While on the surface this may seem like a good idea but is there a market?

Will this new building pass the test of time meaning will it be constructed to last 200 years?

Yes it is better to go up than out if the project can stand on its' own.


Richard Heckler 4 years ago

Why shouldn't this new business be expected to provide parking for employees and tenants as any other new retail business?

110 -165 plus vehicles is a bit much to expect for free from the taxpayers.

Is this a tax dollar write off money losing plan?

Is this preferential treatment?

Where will the Arts Center patrons park on the nights of performances?

It isn't like the space does not get used in spite of the fact it is a failed TIF project.


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