Archive for Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Plan for hotel near West Lawrence interchange in the works; new bar planned for Mass. Street

Former Vermont Street BBQ location set to become pub

Plans for a new downtown bar is one of the projects coming out of Lawrence City Hall.

February 10, 2010


A new bar is slated to open at 728 Massachusetts, the former home of Vermont Street BBQ.

A new bar is slated to open at 728 Massachusetts, the former home of Vermont Street BBQ.

A longtime vacant piece of ground near one of Lawrence’s gateways may become home to a new hotel.

City planners have received a rezoning request that would open the door for a new hotel to be built on property immediately south of Lawrence’s Hallmark Cards plant and near the west Lawrence exit of the Kansas Turnpike.

“We think a hotel at the entrance of the city and right off the interstate makes a lot of sense,” said Paul Werner, a Lawrence architect who is working on the project for the owners of the property, which is a development group led by members of the Fritzel family.

Werner said details about what particular brand of hotel is interested in the site have not become available. He said the Fritzel family would not be the developers of the hotel, but rather would simply sell the ground for the project to proceed.

He said real estate agents working on the property have indicated the project would be about 65 rooms and likely be designed to attract both tourists and motorists off of Interstate 70. Werner said the project would not be seeking direct access onto McDonald Drive, a busy road that leads to the turnpike toll booths.

City commissioners are being asked to approve a rezoning and a change in the city’s development code to allow the project. The developers are seeking about 3.5 acres to be rezoned from general industrial to limited industrial. They also are asking for a change in the development code that would allow hotels as a permitted use in the limited industrial zoning category.

Planning commissioners could hear the rezoning request in March.

In other development news:

• All indications are that the former Vermont Street BBQ location, 728 Mass, will become home to a new bar. City commissioners have received and approved a drinking establishment license for Tonic to operate at the location. According to the application, Jon Davis, a Lawrence businessman who has been involved in the operation of multiple Lawrence bars, is the proprietor of the new business. A sign recently was installed in the window of the building — still under renovation — advertising it as the Mass. St. Pub.

There’s no word on whether food will be served at the location. Multiple attempts to reach Davis for comment this week were unsuccessful.


Phil Minkin 8 years, 1 month ago

One step closer to being Aggieville east. Doesn't anyone do retail anymore?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 1 month ago

"One step closer to being Aggieville east."

I'd say it's closer to Westport West. But a bar-and-restaurant scene, with some office and retail mixed in, nonetheless.

boothillbilly 8 years, 1 month ago

Can Mass. St. honestly support another: a. overpriced used clothing store b. overpriced new clothing/sporting apparel store c. overpriced outdoors store d. overpriced and poorly stocked music store e. none of the above.

I'd honestly like to see more cafe's where you can have a beer/glass of wine/cup of coffee or tea and read a book, meet friends for dominoes/cards, or sit and relax.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 1 month ago

This is the westside developers dream. All bars on Mass Street in hopes of manipulating all retail shoppers to the west where retail is not doing all that well. And going real slow.

However JOCO/KCMO metro is almost as close with greater choices by far. Plenty of cultural activities as well.

It simply does not make dollars and sense to kill downtown retail. For downtown think art galleries that which do not seem to draw ruffians with guns.

Instead of Manhattan let's follow Eugene,Oregon:

Performing arts -The Hult Center for the Performing Arts

Eugene is home to numerous cultural organizations, including the Eugene Symphony, the Eugene Ballet, the Eugene Opera, the Eugene Concert Choir, the Northwest Christian University Community Choir, the Oregon Mozart Players, the Oregon Bach Festival, the Oregon Children's Choir, the Eugene Youth Symphony, Ballet Fantastique and Oregon Festival of American Music. Principal performing arts venues include the Hult Center for the Performing Arts, The John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts ("The Shedd"), Beall Concert Hall and the Erb Memorial Union ballroom on the University of Oregon campus, the McDonald Theatre, and W.O.W. Hall.

A number of live theater groups are based in Eugene, including Free Shakespeare in the Park, Lord Leebrick Theatre, The Very Little Theatre, Actors Cabaret, LCC Theatre, and University Theatre.[55] Each has its own performance venue.

Music Main article: Music of Oregon,Eugene

Because of its status as a college town, Eugene has been home to many musicians and bands, ranging from mainstream garage rock, to hip hop, folk and heavy metal. Eugene also has a growing reggae and street-performing bluegrass and jug band scene. Multi-genre act the Cherry Poppin' Daddies became a prominent figure in Eugene's music scene and became the house band at Eugene's W.O.W. Hall. In the late 1990s, their contributions to the swing revival movement propelled them to national stardom. Rock band Floater originated in Eugene.

Dick Hyman, noted jazz pianist and musical director for many of Woody Allen's films, designs and hosts the annual Now Hear This! jazz festival at the Oregon Festival of American Music (OFAM). OFAM and the Hult Center routinely draw major jazz talent for concerts.[56][57]

Eugene is also home to a large Zimbabwean music community. Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center, which is "dedicated to the music and people of Zimbabwe," is based in Eugene.

Visual arts Eugene's visual arts community is supported by over 20 private art galleries and several organizations, including Maude Kerns Art Center, Lane Arts Council, DIVA (the Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts), the Hult Center's Jacobs Gallery, and the Eugene Glass School.

Annual visual arts events include the Mayor's Art Show and Art and the Vineyard.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 1 month ago

Organically Grown Company, the largest distributor of organic fruits and vegetables in the northwest, started in Eugene in 1978 as a non-profit co-op for organic farmers. Several local food processors, many of whom manufacture certified organic products, are nationally successful.

These companies include Golden Temple (Yogi Tea), Mountain Rose Herbs, The Merry Hempsters, Surata Tofu, Organichap Lip Balm, Toby's Tofu, Emerald Valley Kitchen, GloryBee Foods, Turtle Mountain Foods (Soy Delicious Ice Cream) and Springfield Creamery (Nancy's Yogurt). The last is owned by family members of Ken Kesey.

Until July, 2008, Hynix Semiconductor America had operated a large semiconductor plant in west Eugene. In late September, 2009, Uni-Chem of South Korea announced its intention to purchase the Hynix site for solar cell manufacturing.

Several locally-developed small businesses have formed a coalition called Unique Eugene, which coordinates advertising and promotion, and shares its pool of customers.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 1 month ago

In the 1970s, Eugene was packed with cooperative and community projects. It still has small natural food stores in many neighborhoods, some of the oldest student cooperatives in the country, and alternative schools have been part of the school district since 1971.

The old Grower's Market, downtown near the Amtrak depot, is the only food cooperative in the U.S. with no employees. It is possible to see Eugene's trend-setting non-profit tendencies in much newer projects, such as the Tango Center and the Center for Appropriate Transport. In 2006, an initiative began to create a tenant-run development process for Downtown Eugene.

In the fall of 2003, neighbors noticed that "an unassuming two-acre remnant orchard tucked into the Friendly Area Neighborhood" had been put up for sale by its owner, a resident of New York City.

Learning that a prospective buyer had plans to build several houses on the property, they formed a non-profit organization called Madison Meadow in June 2004 in order to buy the property and "preserve it as undeveloped space in perpetuity." In 2007 their effort was named Third Best Community Effort by the Eugene Weekly, and by the end of 2008 they had raised enough money to purchase the property.

jacksquirt 8 years, 1 month ago

Joco/KC are almost as close as West Lawrence? NO

Eugene is 3 times larger than Lawrence and not right next to a metropolitan area that has most of this cultural stuff already. If a retailers can't survive because KC is so close then why on earth would you think a children's choir of Lawrence would do anything.

jacksquirt 8 years, 1 month ago

@ KRichards

I read all of the first half of Merills post and then got bored I think you are right.

Sunny Parker 8 years, 1 month ago

For the record, I don't read any of Merrills posts...none.

Stop throwing ideas for the property down town unless you can buy/rent the building. When you can afford to do that then you can make the choice of what goes in there.

boothillbilly...will you be spending money while you are sitting around relaxing? If not...really not too great of an idea.

Stuart Evans 8 years, 1 month ago

you guys are right. Merrill, concise points, not more than 2-3 small paragraphs. You have a lot of data there, and most of your target audience is not inclined to do that much reading. short attention span is the key. now I've run out of attention span and people will stop reading here.

Stuart Evans 8 years, 1 month ago

they used to call boothill's idea a park.

Mariposa 8 years, 1 month ago

Merrill, I guess, and this is only a guess, mind you, that you should write no more than five sentences at a time as at that point the attention of some people starts to wander. I like what you wrote. Boothillbilly, I think that sounds like a lovely idea. Have a glass of wine, play some chess, some good conversation. I used to have the dream of owning a small bookstore/cafe with people discussing all the current issues and having arguments, but good arguments, if you know what I mean.

Mariposa 8 years, 1 month ago

AreUNorml I was writing the same time you were. Two minds that think as one?

justoneperson 8 years, 1 month ago

so, a hotel south of Hallmark near the West Lawrence Turnpike exit?

“We think a hotel at the entrance of the city and right off the interstate makes a lot of sense,” said Paul Werner

ummm...the Holidome???

overthemoon 8 years, 1 month ago


beat me to it. That was my response, too. Did they notice the hotel across the street? I'm sure Mr. Warner is cringing at the implications left hanging by a sketchy reporting job. I'm sure he and his clients are fully aware of the site and neighboring markets.

Now isn't it funny how the media can intentionally or by omission make someone look 'out of touch' by not reporting the simple who-what-where-when-why in a clear, concise and correct manner?

jumpin_catfish 8 years, 1 month ago

Eugene is my brother's middle name, the name Eugene comes from the Greek meaning well born. Greece is in serious trouble financially and is considered the birth place of western civilization. Eugene Oregon is a place that must be ideal, like no other, almost heaven I think but I've never been there. Eugene Oregon has it all money and civilization, we should all move there immediately.

Stuart Evans 8 years, 1 month ago

lol mariposa, I'm sure a little time with my mind would change yours :)

justoneperson 8 years, 1 month ago

No insults to Werner meant...but I do wonder if the hotel building business is the reincarnated rental property business...overbuilding.

Holidome; 1/2 mile south 2 more hotel/motels; couple miles west down 6th 2 more.

2 in the downtown area, now one on campus (not to mention the Holiday Inn Express on the south side [if it is even still open] and all the others in between)

steveguy 8 years, 1 month ago

Thats all down town needs is another bar. You are kidding.

Stuart Evans 8 years, 1 month ago

I think a cannabis club would be a great addition to downtown. no drum circles.

puddleglum 8 years, 1 month ago

we are running low on bars around here.

ralphralph 8 years, 1 month ago

How 'bout a Wii Cafe'?

Actually, I think you could require that an establishment provide some kind of entertainment or amusement in order to get a booze license downtown. Boost the live music scene, strong-arm some creativity. ... ?

What do you expect? When I was a kid, my grandma lived just off Eugene Street in North Topeka. (hint: you don't want to move there)

Charlie Sabotage 8 years, 1 month ago

new bar totally makes sense. more people staying in new hotels means more places needed for those people to drink. duh.

Ward 8 years, 1 month ago

Make a statement with that key gateway building or do not build it. Make it energy efficient and appropriate to its context. Confirm the market needs the building. I hope the idea is not squandered on some dream based upon the style of a bygone era re-purposed for use in the wrong climate.

feeble 8 years, 1 month ago

"I'd honestly like to see more cafe's where you can have a beer/glass of wine/cup of coffee or tea and read a book, meet friends for dominoes/cards, or sit and relax."

So, the Pig or Henry's not do it for you?

Sunny Parker 8 years, 1 month ago

Put what ever you want in any of the empty buildings you can afford to make the decision.

Since none of you can...stop dreaming of what you would like to see.

Sitting around playing dominos...ya..that is a real money maker!

Ward 8 years, 1 month ago

PS don't forget about the prime views of the turnpike, Hallmark and the powerplant with all the north facing windows.

cowboy 8 years, 1 month ago

If an investor wants to build a new hotel with occupancy rates that average 57% I say go ahead spend your money here.

On another bar in downtown...downtown is irrelevant...downtown lawrence generates approximately 6% of the city's annual tax revenue. That's pathetic given the amount of city welfare it sucks up.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 1 month ago

Bars are boring. That is why people get drunk - boredom. Senior citizens need more than bars.

TopJayhawk 8 years, 1 month ago

We need more no tell motels.
Where is a good one in Lawrence?

BruceWayne 8 years, 1 month ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

John Hamm 8 years, 1 month ago

Just what downtown needs - another bar.

Bill Lee 8 years, 1 month ago

One of the reasons bars and restaurants dominate downtown Lawrence after dark is that all of the other stores have closed. The big box stores haven't so they pull in the retail dollars missing from downtown. Working people get off work, drive downtown and discover no open retail stores! It's no wonder they shop elsewhere.

Robert Rauktis 8 years, 1 month ago

Eugene, Oregon/Lawrence, Kansas: Lawrence, Kansas/St. Croix

Steve Miller 8 years, 1 month ago

It's all about the money, booz sells in college towns and makes money, not poptarts and coffee shops. Wake up...

somedude20 8 years, 1 month ago

another bar on mass is like a hooker with three arms

anonyname 8 years, 1 month ago

Merrill, wikipedia also has many articles on airlines, as well as Amtrak and Greyhound. You can use those wikipedia pages to link to the web pages, and use those web pages to find a way to get to Eugene. I'm sure the Marketplace here on can help you find movers. Good luck!!

Ricky_Vaughn 8 years, 1 month ago

boothillbilly (Anonymous) says… I'd honestly like to see more cafe's where you can have a beer/glass of wine/cup of coffee or tea and read a book, meet friends for dominoes/cards, or sit and relax. =========================================== Gee we don't have any of those...have you ever been downtown?

KU_cynic 8 years, 1 month ago

For better, I think, the west Lawrence exit from I-70 is a tranquil one -- no gas stations, garish signage, fast food restaurants, etc. The Holiday Inn at the intersection with McDonald Drive is set back from the street and is pleasantly fronted by trees and other landscaping.

Personally, I don't want to see a garishly signed, underlandscaped, parking-lot fronted motel right there.

The east Lawrence entrance to the city presents visitors with blight and eyesore. The K-10 entrance off I-70 is still virgin, but we all know that eventually there will be retail out on west 6th Street near the intersection with K-10. It would seem to me that the west Lawrence exit is really Lawrence's last best chance to put our best foot forward when welcoming visitors to the city.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 1 month ago

three and a half acres sounds awefully small for a motel with any parking! I doubt this will be financially viable.

TopJ: We need more no tell motels. Where is a good one in Lawrence?

---hey, North Lawrence covers that for you, Jayhawk Motel has got it nailed.
Can I book you a room? lol!

oh look, Merrill, the greenie fascist, posted a bunch of cr*p again and even used the tired, old, burned out phrase "dollars and sense!"

Merrill: Eugene also is in Oregon, where doctor assisted suicide is legal!
may I serve as your travel agent, mover organizer?!?

d_prowess 8 years, 1 month ago

Quick question, I thought that no bars could open downtown unless it was replacing an old bar. And if it wasn't, the new place had to have at least 50% revenues coming in from food sales. Is that not the case anymore? Or why does that rule not apply here?

Joe Hyde 8 years, 1 month ago

It would be good to have the now-empty Vermont St. BBQ space occupied again. Vacant buildings have a nasty habit of deteriorating very rapidly due to maintenance neglect. Having a business of any kind occupy that space will help protect adjacent businesses, not just the new one that's going in.

A new hotel located at W. 2nd St. and McDonald Drive might do pretty well. The location would be attractive to crowds of people attending in-town sporting events (KU, high school, Haskell), plus various near-to-town sporting event draws such as NASCAR races in Kansas City, KS and the Ironman Triathlon at Clinton State Park.

ralphralph 8 years, 1 month ago

Will the motel have an area where you can play dominoes?

somedude20 8 years, 1 month ago

yo yo yo'z hope daz youz can rent roomz by da hour like dat classy jawhawk motel by 70. yo dog iz takz all da class broads der

let me ax youz a question, howz manyz thugz dez itz takez to getz to da centerz of da tootsiez rollz pop

this message has been brought to you by the makers of the jersy shore fist bumpin d-bags. have a nice day

Keith 8 years, 1 month ago

"d_prowess (Anonymous) says… Quick question, I thought that no bars could open downtown unless it was replacing an old bar. And if it wasn't, the new place had to have at least 50% revenues coming in from food sales. Is that not the case anymore? Or why does that rule not apply here?"

Brought to you by Santa Claus' older brother, Grandfather Clause.

Denny2009 8 years, 1 month ago

Another bar on Mass St? No problem..rough economy or not booze will always sell!

Bud Stagg 8 years, 1 month ago

misterlee (Anonymous) says… "Working people get off work, drive downtown and discover no open retail stores! It's no wonder they shop elsewhere."

My dad used to own a auto body shop in the 60's-80's. He started opening on Saturdays, a new concept at the time. Made a fortune. He always said, "a place of business should be open when the customers can get to it easily." The stores downtown need to realize that it might benefit them if all of them stayed open till 8pm.

d_prowess 8 years, 1 month ago

Keith, what is the grandfather clause that would allow them to turn it into a bar only? It has always been a restaurant, right?

Keith 8 years, 1 month ago

It had an old liquor license, from before the % rule.

Jeteras 8 years, 1 month ago

Mass street needs to be like fremont street in Vegas... CASINOS!!! little pub casinos.. They could make Weavers the bigger casino with upstairs texas holdem.. Close off mass to traffic, you cant drive down that damn street anyway. Street performers, bars, gambling, food joints. Sheesh they would come from hundreds of miles away! Make like Oshea's and have beer pong! Think of it!!,, the budget problems with schools,,GONE,,,, hell there would be enough money to solve the STATE OF KANSAS budget crisis ,,,, Seriously though how friggen cool would that be!! cant be anymore homeless dirtballs that we already have.. hell with all the crowds they would be flushed out.. problem solved,, make it happen!

fabian_zimbabwe 8 years, 1 month ago

i miss vermont st bbq!!!!!<<

I miss Paradise Cafe!!!!!

asbury 8 years, 1 month ago

Yeah fabian...I miss Paradise Cafe too!!!!!!

RKLOG 8 years, 1 month ago

Lawrence is getting to be a pretty dull little cookie cutter.

mr_right_wing 8 years, 1 month ago

That is so great that we're getting a bar on Mass. Street! About time! I was worried downtown Lawrence might die off. This is just want is needed to save it. More drunks.

Rae Hudspeth 8 years, 1 month ago

Have you looked at the (small) size of that lot for a hotel? No street access on McDonald Dr means entrances off Princeton and N. Iowa. I just can't fathom it having enough room. What fun for the neighborhood!

Rae Hudspeth 8 years, 1 month ago

oneeye_wilbur: Well, there's a convention center hotel right across the street, and I may just be eyeballing it since I live right past there. Call me crazy, I won't argue, but it sure doesn't look the same size of a lot, and a plan for 65 rooms doesn't sound convention center status to me. Maybe I'm also just being crochety because I don't want a biga$$ hotel right around the corner from my home, lol.

Jason M F Andrew 8 years, 1 month ago

The problem with downtown is how the bars/restaurants/retail stores are all scattered. I wish all of the bars were on one side like from 6th-9th and then from 9th-11th we had the retail stores. Would make it a lot easier to walk around. I just hope the new pub is a non indy bar, we already have plenty of those.

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