News and notes from around town:
• Dillons officials now are showing what the exterior of their proposed store at 1740 Mass. will look like. In a site plan filing with City Hall, the company has submitted these renderings. As way of orientation, the top rendering shows the main entrance to the store, which will be on its north end. The second rendering is the west elevation and is the view you’ll see from Massachusetts Street. The third rendering (see the smaller photo to the side of this story) is a view from the south. The fourth rendering is a view from New Hampshire Street.
As previously reported, the company plans to demolish its existing store on the site. The new store will be built to stretch across the lot from east to west, instead of north to south as the current store does. The main parking for the building will be on the northern end of the lot. The company met with neighbors about the project in November.
The site plan confirmed several details from that meeting, and also added a few more. The company is still proposing a pharmacy drive-through lane on the east edge of the building, which would take its access off New Hampshire Street. A loading dock area also would be on the east side. The store would include what the company hopes will be a Massachusetts Street-style café that will be on the western edge of the building. In the renderings, the café is the two-story section part of the building. The site plan shows the area in front of the café having a special colored sidewalk installed and outdoor seating. The plans also call for a new pathway from main entrance to Babcock Place, a public housing facility that is just north of the site.
Overall, the new store will be 43,433 square feet, up from the current store’s size of 32,089 square feet. The company estimates the cost of construction at $2 million.
City planning staff members currently are reviewing the plans. That review is including concerns brought up by neighbors about the amount of traffic that will be on New Hampshire Street due to the pharmacy drive-through and the loading dock area. Store officials, in the site plan, indicated the amount of delivery truck traffic on New Hampshire Street should drop by about 50 percent compared to the situation today. That’s because the new store also will have a loading dock area that can be accessed off Massachusetts Street.
A Lawrence-based contractor is being recommended to get the job of cleaning up the buildings and other debris at the former Farmland Industries site. City staff is recommending city commissioners award the job to Lawrence-based R.D. Johnson Excavating. Johnson’s proposal is for $432,000, although the city’s cost may drop depending on how much salvageable steel is recovered at the site. Johnson’s proposal calls for the company to keep the first 1,500 tons of steel, valued at about $180,000, but the city and the company would split proceeds from any steel totals above 1,500 tons. If commissioners approve the proposal at their Tuesday evening meeting, work could begin by the end of January. Check back later for more details.
A Topeka development group led by Lawrence businessmen Doug Compton and Bill Newsome is now being sued by its lender. According to an article in the Topeka Capital-Journal, CoreFirst Bank and Trust has filed a lawsuit in Shawnee County District Court seeking repayment of promissory notes that are in default related to the group’s College Hill redevelopment project near Washburn University. According to the article, the bank is seeking $22 million from the group.
The project has drawn attention in Lawrence because Compton is leading a separate development group that is building a $10 million, seven-story building at Ninth and New Hampshire streets. The Lawrence project is seeking incentives from City Hall that include some reserved parking spaces in the adjacent public parking garage, and more than $200,000 worth of public infrastructure improvements in the area. City Manager David Corliss told me this week that he still doesn’t have a timeline for bringing the incentives issue back to the Lawrence City Commission. He said he’s reviewing a recently completed staff report that details how heavily the Ninth and New Hampshire Street parking garage is currently used.
• In interesting news from the real estate filings at the Douglas County Courthouse, one of the country’s largest apartment owners has made another investment in Lawrence. A group affiliated with Campus Apartments, the largest privately held student housing company in the country, has bought Hawks Pointe Apartments, 1421 W. Seventh St., according to both real estate filings and the company’s website. The new owners, which bought the properties under a New York corporation, Vesper Hawks Pointe 1 and 2 LLC, filed mortgages totaling $12.4 million on two of the three Hawks Pointe properties. The company, though, owns all three of the Hawks Pointe properties, according to a representative at the local office. The changeover, which is not expected to create many changes for residents, became official Dec. 1. Aspen Square Management, a Massachussetts-based company, had owned the apartment complex since 2004.
In a sign of how global business has become, money from the government of Signapore likely was behind the purchase. Campus Apartments — which also owns the Lawrence apartment complexes of Aberdeen, Apple Lane, Alvadora, and the Campus Court at Naismith — has a $1.1 billion partnership with the Government of Singapore’s real estate investment arm to fund purchases of apartment complexes.
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