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Archive for Thursday, December 16, 2010

Town Talk: Shelter to pay close to $2 million for site; Chamber moving its offices; Citizen of the years sought

December 16, 2010

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News and notes from around town:

• A lawsuit filed by the Lawrence Community Shelter is shedding more light on how much the organization is paying for a vacant warehouse building that it hopes will house an expanded homeless shelter. According to a real estate contract attached to the lawsuit, the shelter has agreed to pay $2,069,750 for the building at 3701 Franklin Park Circle. The contract, though, also stipulates the sellers of the property — a group that includes Lawrence businessman Tim Keller and Mark Craig — will donate $155,000 to the shelter upon the close of the sale. Even with that discount, the shelter is paying a premium for the space compared to its appraisal by the Douglas County assessor. The county has valued the building at $1.06 million to $1.07 million over the last two years. The fact the shelter is paying a premium for the building perhaps isn’t surprising given that it has been searching for a site for multiple years and has had several other offers rejected because the sellers did not like the proposed use.

The contract also spells out how much money the shelter may lose if it does not prevail in the lawsuit, which centers on whether covenents prevent the shelter from locating at the proposed site. The shelter has put down $75,000 for the building. Of that amount, $37,500 is non-refundable. The remaining $37,500 becomes non-refundable after certain dates. If the shelter hasn’t walked away from the deal by Feb. 1, it loses another $12,500. If the deal is still pending by March 1, it loses another $12,500. The final $12,500 is lost come April 1.

Douglas County District Court Judge Sally Pokorny gave the shelter a partial victory earlier this week by expediting the timeline for the lawsuit. The shelter had sought a decision by Jan. 1. Pokorny said that wouldn’t be possible, but she did set a hearing date for Feb. 1, which should allow the case to be ruled upon before the late March closing of the sale.

• The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce will be leaving its longtime offices at 734 Vt. St. in early 2011. The chamber has signed a five-year lease to move into the second-floor space above Talbot’s, 646 Vt. Tom Kern, chamber president and CEO, said plans call for the move to be made by mid-February.

The chamber has been in its current location inside the AT&T building since 1991. AT&T was open to signing another five-year lease, Kern said, but the lease would have required new security restrictions that weren’t feasible for the chamber. Because the AT&T building houses large amounts of telecommunications equipment for northeast Kansas, security measures have been increasing at the facility. The new lease is with a local ownership group led by members of the Fritzel family.

“AT&T was has been great to work with,” Kern said. “We really want to thank AT&T for everything they’ve done for the chamber over the years.”

The new chamber space will be smaller — about 4,900 square feet compared to about 7,000 square feet in the current office. Kern said the reduction would work because the chamber no longer houses the offices of the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau, which separated from the chamber several years ago. The chamber currently has eight full-time and two part-time employees.

Kern said the KU Small Business Development Center, which currently shares space with the chamber, also will make the move.

• In other chamber news, the organization is seeking nominations for its Citizen of the Years award. The award, now in its 26th year, honors an individual whose “lifetime commitment to the community has made Lawrence a better place.” Nominations are due by 4 p.m. Dec. 23. Nomination forms and a list of past winners can be found here. A group of chamber board members and past winners will select the honoree.

• What town talk are you hearing? Send me a tip at clawhorn@ljworld.com.

Comments

Gene Ramp 4 years ago

As much as I understand the desire to move the homeless shelter out of the downtown area, I fear that paying double the assessed value for the new property ($1,000,000 over appraised value to be exact) might be too high a price to pay. Furthermore, I have seen no concrete plan or budget for the long-term sustainability and maintenance of the new facility or how much of that the city might have to cover. And the need to rush the process for legal reasons is a receipt for disaster. I hate to see this important project stalled again, but am very concerned about where it is headed at the moment.

Just sayin'...

BobtheBuilder 4 years ago

I nominate Mario Little as citizen of the year.

geekin_topekan 4 years ago

Since Compton's Topeka project has been sued for $22M, oh wait, that's twenty two, I was thinking two point two.

Never mind.

Amy Heeter 4 years ago

Looks to me like Loring Henderson is gambling with shelter funds. In a previous article it was stated that the site does not allow residential use. If in fact that is clear then Loring is shooting snake eyes. $16,000 is quite a loss even though not near as bad as paying double the assessed value. I think it is time for this dream weaver to head on out.

kernal 4 years ago

As I recall it's $32,000 -$36,000 annually. I think it's a bit much to ask him to live on site. That would make his job 24/7 and he would need to be paid accordingly.

Bob Forer 4 years ago

Looks like Loring Henderson, self-described "do-gooder" doesn't do so good when it comes to other people's money. Shame on him. Sounds like he's motivated by the public exposure he receives as opposed to the warm fuzzy feelings one gets by helping others. He certainly isn't helping the tax payers nor the homeless by paying almost a million dollars more for property than what it is actually worth. Money is tight right now, especially for the most needy, and is a shame Loring has such a cavalier attitude. Looks like he hell bent on building his private fiefdom and empire despite the costs.

Curtis Martell 4 years ago

Dear Mr. Sychophant, You need to vist the Lawrence Community Shelter and meet Loring, the staff, and the residents before you make such a statement.

If the residents of Lawrence had half as much compassion and Loring Henderson and his staff, the shelter would not be paying so much for the property.

A homeless shelter is not a private feifdom. Thanks for the most ridiculous post in recent memory.

Bob Forer 4 years ago

Don't talk to me about compassion. My family has been invovled in major major human and civil rights movements for three generations.

Ever hear of Joe Hill, the leader of the Wobblies who wrote the song "The Preacher and the Slave" in 1911 as a parody of the hymn "In the Sweet By and By". The Industrial Workers of the World concentrated much of its labor trying to organize migrant workers in lumber and construction camps. When the workers returned to the cities, the Wobblies faced the Salvation Army. Several songs were written parodying the Salvation Army's hymns, "The Preacher and the Slave" being the most successful.

Long-haired preachers come out every night, Try to tell you what's wrong and what's right; But when asked how 'bout something to eat They will answer in voices so sweet Chorus You will eat, by and by, In that glorious land above the sky; Work and pray, live on hay, You'll get pie in the sky when you die

And the Starvation Army, they play, And they sing and they clap and they pray, Till they get all your coin on the drum, Then they tell you when you're on the bum (Chorus) Holy Rollers and Jumpers come out And they holler, they jump and they shout Give your money to Jesus, they say, He will cure all diseases today (Chorus) If you fight hard for children and wife- Try to get something good in this life- You're a sinner and bad man, they tell, When you die you will sure go to hell. (Chorus) Workingmen of all countries, unite Side by side we for freedom will fight When the world and its wealth we have gained To the grafters we'll sing this refrain Chorus (modified) You will eat, by and by, When you've learned how to cook and how to fry; Chop some wood, 'twill do you good Then you'll eat in the sweet by and by The chorus is sung in a call and response pattern. You will eat [You will eat] by and by [by and by] In that glorious land above the sky [Way up high] Work and pray [Work and pray] live on hay [live on hay] You'll get pie in the sky when you die [That's a lie!] Thus the final verse becomes You will eat [You will eat] by and by [by and by] When you've learned how to cook and how to fry [How to fry] Chop some wood [Chop some wood], 'twill do you good [do you good] Then you'll eat in the sweet by and by [That's no lie]

I respect and admire Joe Hill, and his progeny. Their efforts actually had a major effect in improving the lives of working folks. The Salvation Army and their ilk of religiously motivated and sanctiomonious jack asses, on the other hand, have failed, and continued to fail, in their Pollyannish efforts to "save" drunks and bums with "a hot and a cot."

Its easy and safe to "throw the bums a dime." To truly and effectively fight a corrupt and unfair system, however, takes real compassion, and guts and determination, qualities of which Loring and his camp followers are miserably lacking.

Amy Heeter 4 years ago

It isn't Loring's compassion anyone is concerned with. Just where do you think the money to run this shelter comes from? What about all the things that will need to be done to the building once it is purchased for twice the going rate? What about the legal costs of the current action? No people do not want a drunk shelter anywhere near their homes. The current neighborhood has suffered as a result of the shelter's enablement of addiction. Make it a dry shelter and there could be a little more support.

kernal 4 years ago

All I want is a reasonable explanation as to why it is okay for the shelter to pay $2,000,000 for a property with an assessment value of $1,000,000.

bearded_gnome 4 years ago

to a real estate contract attached to the lawsuit, the shelter has agreed to pay $2,069,750 for the building at 3701 Franklin Park Circle. The contract, though, also stipulates the sellers of the property — a group that includes Lawrence businessman Tim Keller and Mark Craig — will donate $155,000 to the shelter upon the close of the sale. Even with that discount, the shelter is paying a premium for the space compared to its appraisal by the Douglas County assessor. The county has valued the building at $1.06 million to $1.07 million over the last two years. The fact the shelter is paying a premium for the building perhaps isn’t surprising given that it has been searching for a site for multiple years and has had several other offers rejected because the

  1. donation or kickback?
  2. twice the apraised value? wow man, what can I sell to the shelter??
  3. covanants [sic] are a problem and Henderson with the shelter hysterians are playing the fool.
  4. Lawrenceguy, what proportion of the people you saw at the drunken/druggie downtown shelter had no local history and no local ties? 60%? more?
  5. making people comfortable in their self-destruction only encourages their self-destruction. stop helping people harm themselves. enforce standards to gain shelter/help. only help people with local history/local ties.

BigPrune 4 years ago

Sounds like the donation is a partial down payment. If the deal falls through will the county be assessing this property at the selling price next year? How much will this inflated boondoggle cost the taxpayers? At least it's cheaper per square foot than the library boondoggle.

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