Archive for Thursday, April 15, 2010

New City Hall survey says bars and restaurants dominate downtown businesses, but signs suggest they may be at their limit

‘It also is clear that we’re not going to end up with 80, 90, 100 percent bars and restaurants’

Bars and restaurants are the biggest player downtown, but retail openings are starting to grow.

April 15, 2010


Aggieville is not on Downtown Lawrence’s horizon.

According to a new study out of City Hall, bars and restaurants are now the dominant businesses in Downtown Lawrence, but there are new signs that they won’t take over every nook and cranny of the district.

“There are some numbers here that really confirm downtown is an entertainment district,” said Roger Zalneraitis, the city’s economic development coordinator and author of the new report. “I think it also is clear that we’re not going to end up with 80, 90, 100 percent bars and restaurants downtown. It won’t be just an 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. district.”

As several prominent retailers have left downtown, fears that the area would turn primarily into a late-night entertainment district — like Aggieville in Manhattan or Power and Light in Kansas City — have increased.

The new report — which examines sales tax receipts from downtown — found some early signs that bars and restaurants may be nearing a saturation point in downtown.

From 2007 to 2009, the report found that the number of new downtown bars and restaurants outpaced the growth in sales. For that three-year period, the report found that sales tax collections per downtown bar and restaurant declined by 3 percent.

“This suggests there may be some cannibalization of sales occurring between bars and restaurants downtown,” Zalneraitis wrote in the report.

Those numbers were coupled with data showing some traditional retailers had seen good gains on a per-store basis.

A broad category — books, sports, music and hobby stores — saw a 10.3 percent increase in per store sales tax collections. The “other retail category,” which includes everything from barber shops to boutiques posted a 6.5 percent increase in per store sales tax collections.

“This implies that for some types of retailers … the value of locating downtown may be increasing, while for restaurants and bars, it may be decreasing,” Zalneraitis concluded.

But the report also clearly shows bars and restaurants are the biggest player — by far — in the downtown retail world. About 49 percent of all sales tax collections in downtown came from bars and restaurants in 2009. No other category came close to that, including:

• Sport, books, music and hobby stores: 19 percent.

• Clothing stores: 19 percent.

• Other retailers: 13 percent.

Allison Vance Moore, a commercial real estate agent with Grubb & Ellis/The Winbury Group, said restaurants and drinking establishments still are showing strong interest in downtown. But she doesn’t believe that means downtown is becoming more of a college-oriented party district. Instead, she said part of the increase is in response to more apartments and living units downtown.

“I think it really is a sign that it is becoming more of a 24/7 district,” Moore said.

Some longtime downtown retailers said a shift hasn’t yet occurred, noting that at least three new restaurants have opened on Massachusetts Street in the last six months. But they also said they wouldn’t be shocked to see changes in the future.

“I don’t think anybody can really predict it,” said Win Campbell, with Winfield House, 835 Mass. “But I think market conditions at some point will tell the food industry that we have enough restaurants down here to serve our needs.”


George_Braziller 7 years, 9 months ago

At least when I look out my window now I don't have to see Last Call. That was one bad, bad, bad, establishment that shouldn't have been allowed to be open as long as it was.

Kat Christian 7 years, 9 months ago

Well Duh!! no kidding. I think people having been saying this for the past couple of years. No more bars or restaurants downtown. Let's get some real shops in there. That's what I'm saying.

nixon 7 years, 9 months ago

Another brilliant comment from Vance-Moore. She is just in it to make a buck!!

Robert Rauktis 7 years, 9 months ago

And this study cost how much?

Did anyone ask Godfather Lew his opinion?

Richard Heckler 7 years, 9 months ago

Does Lawrence want to be part of the problem or part of the solution?

Why would anyone want to move their families to Lawrence with a downtown loaded with bars?

The city commission removed a safeguard by reducing the percentage of food sales required to open up in downtown.

Lawrence powers that be and some friends may look adoringly at alcohol dollars and their BIG profits but what does that say to young people? Devote your young life to drinking so a few can make some BIG bucks!

What about those parents who are becoming more questionable about college age deaths over too much alcohol consumption? Why further promote this image?

The powers that be that are supposed to be guiding a stable and long term economic development for our lovely city seem to be looking at alcohol as the easy way out.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 9 months ago

The banking industry and their friends are back promoting what took our economy down. Flood the markets even more with more houses and retail.

There are warnings of this on radio news frequently.

Reverse mortgages are coming up on the horizon as a huge problems =

Commercial real estate is becoming a concern = too much plus people owe more than properties are worth.

The housing/real estate industry is no longer the golden goose.

The USA is over retailed.

14-15 million are still out of work. Most of these jobs will not return cuz our legislators are watching them go abroad.

The USA needs NEW INDUSTRY instead of trying the squeeze blood from a turnip that no longer has the blood.

FOCUS on new industry.

George Lippencott 7 years, 9 months ago

Just where do you want people to live? Population is growing - they must live somewhere - if not here - where?

If the city (us) is going to participate in commercial decisions are we going to share in the losses or gains? Seems like a lot of past such decisions by the city have resulted in losses. Why should I pay for that - maybe people like you should get to pay my share.

Just how much interest do you have in "downtown"?

Adrienne Sanders 7 years, 9 months ago

REally? They needed a study for this? Couldn't they have hired a fourth grader to count the business? Ugh. And it's equally obvious that it won't become all restaurants, b/c as it is many of the new ones fail after a year or two.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 9 months ago

The projections are that the economic recovery is a long way off. When our illustrious politicians begin offering wild predictions about a rosy recovery in the near future or claim to see light at the the end of the proverbial tunnel I say be wary.

Lawrence and the USA is over retailed = shaky economics. Shopping as our primary industry requires that the population be employed with substantial wages. Plus being wasteful.

The jobs that millions lost in the most recent repub debacle will not return as these jobs are being relocated abroad = Reaganomics Global Economy = Wreckanomics. Why didn't Reagan/Bush tell us the primary USA export would our industries and our jobs?

How in the world can a nation prosper substantially by putting the population out of work then flooding the work force with immigrant workers?

Instead of taking on more NEW local tax dollar debt by way of brand new development = new annexation,new water lines,new streets,new traffic signals etc etc lets put people to work rehabilitating old sidewalks,streets,old waterlines thus bringing NEW value to existing neighborhoods.

This will not only create new value but put local money back into our local economy without creating NEW debt and new housing and new retail and new light industrial and new office space that Lawrence,Kansas simply has no means of supporting.

George Lippencott 7 years, 9 months ago

OMG, we agree.

What jobs should we be creating?

Kat Christian 7 years, 9 months ago

I agree with you 100% here Merrill. The jobs that have gone away here in Lawrence are not returning. Therefore making it tougher for the the older population to regain employment. Jobs could be created by fixing the already established neighborhoods and info structures. What are these city officials thinking? Wasting money on this study is ludicrous and yes a 4th grader could have told them this. Time for new officials who will represent this town and not their own private agendas.

stuckinthemiddle 7 years, 9 months ago

referring to Robert Krause's new Latin restaurant as "a glorified Chipotle" would be a bit like suggesting that The Round Corner Drug Store was a glorified CVS...

George Lippencott 7 years, 9 months ago

Perhaps instead of a couple of million on sweetheart deals we could help small retailers (for a lot less money) by making a start up less costly and with a greater chance of success.

tir 7 years, 9 months ago

I never go to bars and very seldom eat out. So what this trend means for me is that I will have fewer reasons to go downtown at all, and certainly much less of my $$$ will be spent there. Too bad, because I like downtown, and I miss the variety of shops that it used to offer.

stuckinthemiddle 7 years, 9 months ago

"The consumer should dictate what businesses should be downtown." exactly... consumers are dictating what kinds of businesses are downtown.. if people want all those clothing stores, gift stores, shoe stores and jewelry stores to thrive and stay in business downtown they need to shop in those stores... but... a lot of people think that all that stuff just cost too much downtown...

George Lippencott 7 years, 9 months ago

merrill (anonymous) says… Does Lawrence want to be part of the problem or part of the solution?

Why would anyone want to move their families to Lawrence with a downtown loaded with bars?

We moved here in spite of the bars. The city has many amenities and there are many in the area near-by. I find your whole argument about "downtown" vary misleading and self-serving. Life is bigger than "downtown".

Richard Heckler 7 years, 9 months ago

Retailers such as Lands End,Sony Style,Apple and bring Old Navy downtown. This promotes a draw that will also benefit the "Mom and Pops" and other unique operations. Downtown has the foot traffic.

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