Archive for Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Positive project

The Thursday night movies at Ninth and New Hampshire were nice, but a new mixed-use development at that site looks like a positive step for the future of downtown.

August 4, 2010


It’s great to see a major redevelopment project moving forward on the southwest corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets.

Developer Doug Compton indicated Monday that he hoped to begin construction within the next 30 days on a $10 million, seven-story building at the site. The development will include 55 apartments along with office and retail space. It’s not unlike what was envisioned at that site a decade ago as part of the Downtown 2000 project, which never received the financial commitments needed for its completion.

By contrast, the Compton project appears to be moving ahead smoothly. He said financing for the project is in place and he has begun pre-leasing space in the building, the second floor of which is expected to house his First Management Inc. offices. He’s finalizing a lease with a health club, which seems like a good fit for people who live and work downtown, and there are plans for a coffee shop and wine bar on the first floor.

Perhaps the most important thing the project brings to downtown, however, is more desirable residential space. The plan is to offer 10 studio units, 35 one-bedroom units and 10 two-bedroom units. They are all rentals and should provide a good option to the attractive, but pricey Hobbs Taylor Lofts a couple of blocks to the north. Compton said he hopes the apartments will draw a good mix of residents, including retirees, people who work downtown, university graduate students and young professionals.

Adding residential development downtown is a great way to create new demand for new kinds of retail businesses. Joe Flannery, president of downtown’s oldest retailer, Weaver’s Department Store, told the Journal-World he supports the project and sees the possibility that new apartment residents will help attract a drug store or even a grocery store to downtown.

For Compton, the project may be a prototype for other property he owns downtown. If the residential development takes hold, he has other locations where he’s willing to give it a try.

Lawrence’s downtown continues to be a treasure, but many people have been concerned about its slow transition to an entertainment district focused more on bars and restaurants than on retail stores. It’s hard for government to dictate how the area is used, but bringing more people downtown to live may just change the market in a way that’s more favorable to retail development.

It’s at least worth a try, especially when a private developer is willing to make that kind of investment in the future of downtown.


Kookamooka 7 years, 10 months ago

They need to put a sign on the door of the building saying...families not welcome. When you move those college students downtown, you are going to see some serious mayhem. Will there be a Homeowner's association? Remember the Oread neighborhood? One of the great things about New York City is that people with kids live in lofts just like the single people. Just because you've got kids doesn't mean you don't have financial resources. The no-maintenance aspect of condo living is what is appealing to many families. They appreciate amenities like weight rooms and pools that they can use but don't need to upkeep. We are so closed minded about lifestyles for families in the Midwest. A loft in the heart of things is way more attractive to a growing family than say....a complex of identical putty colored multi family town homes. ugh.

Soup2Nuts 7 years, 10 months ago

I hope the Fire Department ladders can reach that high.

nobody1793 7 years, 10 months ago

"Compton said he hopes the apartments will draw a good mix of residents, including retirees, people who work downtown, university graduate students and young professionals."

More like JoCo rich-kid students who like to party til 2 on a Tuesday but now can just walk home wasted.

jafs 7 years, 10 months ago

Retirees will probably not want to live downtown due to the noise and drunkenness. In addition, the high cost of living in Lawrence may drive them away or prevent them from moving here in the first place.

People who work downtown probably won't make enough money to live there, nor will graduate students.

That leaves young professionals, and/or students who are supported in part/whole by their parents.

Families will probably not want to be there due to the noise, drunkenness and crime.

George Lippencott 7 years, 10 months ago

Or students supported by us. I wonder - do not know - what set of students come here because somebody else pays the bill for a good time? Of that set how many are running up major loan costs (federal insured) that in part support such a life style but will in the end become a burden to the student (or to the rest of us when they default)?

Gene Wallace 7 years, 10 months ago

The Summer movies were great. A good replacement for those movies and a way for families to have fun downtown during the Summer is to do what Escondido, CA has been doing for years. They turn several blocks their main downtown street into a family "50's - "60's cruise party on Friday nights. They call it "Cruisin Grand". ... Lawrence could have it's own "Cruisin Mass" during the time "School's Out For Summer". It's really good for the downtown businesses during the Summer break.

Gene Wallace 7 years, 10 months ago

It is organized by the Downtown Business Association of Escondido.

120 W. Grand Avenue #202 Escondido, CA 92025 760-745-8877

Lindsey Buscher 7 years, 10 months ago

"Compton indicated Monday that he hoped to begin construction within the next 30 days"

But but but but it is sooooo difficult in Lawrence because of all the no-growthers and loony-liberals and the stupid planners!!!!! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH I want my Lowe's now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You see how easy it is to develop in this town when you propose a halfway decent project right smack dab in the middle Lawrence's greatest asset - downtown?!?!

More people will support this as opposed to another Malwart or other great big box in the sprawling parts of the city, and Viola! look at how business-friendly Lawrence can be.

gatekeeper 7 years, 10 months ago

Oh, the looney liberals. That's line's pretty old, puggy.

I am opposed to the building because it will not fit in downtown and will tower over everything. Our downtown is historic. We're known for our beautiful downtown. We aren't a tiny town, but we're not a big city either. I wouldn't care if they built a large bldg like this in another part of town, but believe it will ruin the look of downtown. From the downtown Lawrence website:

"Lawrence boasts one of the most beautiful downtowns in all of the U.S. The National Trust for Historic Preservation ranked Lawrence among its “Dozen Most Distinctive Destinations” touting it as one of the best-preserved and unique communities in America. Take a stroll down historic Massachusetts (the locals call it Mass) Street and you will see many buildings of historic importance."

BigPrune 7 years, 10 months ago

This sounds great and all, I just want to know about the parking garage and how much the developer/tenants will be paying for the parking spaces in our garage. If it's going to be free then something is seriously wrong with this picture.

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