Archive for Friday, February 12, 2010

Getting it right

Lawrence city commissioners are faced with a choice on a development that could be worse but isn’t everything some commissioners would like.

February 12, 2010


There’s a fine line between being “no growth” and simply wanting to hold out for the best projects for Lawrence.

Lawrence city commissioners are trying to walk that line in their consideration of a proposed development at the southeast corner of Clinton Parkway and Inverness Drive. At Tuesday’s meeting, three commissioners seemed inclined to approve a development that would place 161 new apartment units at the site, while two commissioners voiced concerns.

Commissioner Mike Amyx wondered aloud whether the city wouldn’t be better off with a mix of commercial and residential uses at the site. He also correctly noted that “we only have one chance to get this right.” The property is on a prominent intersection on one of the city’s most-traveled thoroughfares, and how it is developed is important to the city.

The other side of the issue is that any development needs to have a willing private developer that wants to pursue it and pay for it. Lawrence businessman Mike Stultz has proposed such a plan. Commissioner Lance Johnson, who supported the project, said Tuesday that it “may not be everything the neighbors want, but I believe it is a lot better than what could go out there.”

Johnson’s statement is less than a ringing endorsement, but does that mean the city should turn down the current proposal and insist on a development that is more acceptable to the neighborhood and perhaps more beneficial to the community as a whole? It’s a tough call.

The proposed plan would be relatively low-density for a multi-family development. The buildings would all be one story, and developers have agreed to restrictions that would allow no more than two unrelated people to live in each of the one-bedroom units. It’s valid to wonder whether Lawrence really needs any more multi-family housing right now, but who is to decide whether there is additional need or market for such units?

The Inverness intersection also is one of the few locations on Clinton Parkway between Kasold and Wakarusa drives, that could easily accommodate non-residential uses. Is more commercial development needed in that area or are the nodes at Kasold and Wakarusa enough?

Lawrence needs to demand the best possible developments, but it can’t let a search for the perfect project stymie desirable growth. The project at Inverness and Clinton Parkway is a good example of the challenges of drawing that line.


Paul R Getto 8 years, 2 months ago

"The other side of the issue is that any development needs to have a willing private developer that wants to pursue it and pay for it." === Good point; if this had been the case in all developments the past few decades, Lawrence would have grown more slowly and rationally and the 'free enterprise' system would have had a chance to shine.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 2 months ago

"There’s a fine line between being “no growth” and simply wanting to hold out for the best projects for Lawrence."

What? Has the JW editorial staff been infiltrated by a lardbutt smartgrowther? This is pure heresy, because we all know that all growth is always good, and the more the better.

BigPrune 8 years, 2 months ago

I'd rather see retail in there then more apartments.

(Note to builder: The switch to the ceiling fan should not be the closest to the door. Seems all your houses have this irritating quality. Same goes for the vent fan switch in the bathroom).

Richard Heckler 8 years, 2 months ago

By Kim McClure

July 24, 2009

To the editor:

The July 14 editorial asks, “What’s downtown going to look like five, 10 or 15 years from now?” The answer can be known, and the picture is not pretty.


Lawrence has enough spending to support about 4.1 million square feet of retail space, but the City Commission permitted developers to expand the supply to over 5.5 million square feet.

Lawrence has too much retail space chasing too few vendors, which means that many stores go empty, especially in the older shopping centers like downtown.

The surplus development has stalled redevelopment plans downtown and has pushed the vacancy rates so high that disinvestment and blight now threaten. Investment, both public and private, is wasted. The taxpayers’ $8 million parking garage stands largely empty. The Hobbs-Taylor building and the 600 block of Massachusetts should be the top performing spaces in the community, but they have significant vacancies.

The recession has contributed to the problem, but had we properly managed our growth we would be much better off.

The developers’ short-term gain is now our long-term loss. Managed growth would have prevented much of the problem and would have protected and enhanced our downtown.

It will take many, many years to absorb this surplus space and, until this happens, it will be hard for downtown to compete. We can only look forward to many years of high vacancy and disinvestment. We need a City Commission that knows how to pace the growth of supply so as to protect our unique downtown.

McClure is from Lawrence

Richard Heckler 8 years, 2 months ago

Empty retail and residential increase the cost of living in Lawrence,Kansas = being nickled and dimed into more tax dollar debt = increased taxes/user fees

Richard Heckler 8 years, 2 months ago

While talking no growth does the author understand that economic displacement = no economic growth for city cookie jars?

Does the author realize that economic displacement is driven by over saturated markets such as Lawrence?

Does the author realize that all new development is futher saturation of an over saturated market that which is unfriendly to taxpayers and business unfriendly across the board?

Does the author understand that senior citizens prefer stable economies over being nickled and dimed with constant cost of livng increases created by city hall?

Lawrence has not been a stable economy for at least 15 years. "Boom Town Economies" provide an illusion not stable economies.

puddleglum 8 years, 2 months ago

you got it wrong... its not apartments and bars, apartments and bars

lets be fair-it actually goes like this:

apartments and bars and more apartments, apartments and bars and more apartments, apartments and bars and more apartments.


Mariposa 8 years, 2 months ago

I live in an apartment and see no reason to be ashamed of it. It is not only KU students, but families that need apartments. I cannot see a time in the future when I would want to own a house. To me there are just too many advantages to renting. I am tempted to believe that I am the only KU student posting in the Journal World. Would I want to remain in Lawrence after I graduate? Maybe not. The hate and hostility have not been directed at me, but nevertheless, I find it disturbing that posters can dismiss a different opinion with such contempt and disdain.

jafs 8 years, 2 months ago

There's no problem with apartment living, Mariposa, but we seem to have more than we need at the moment.

Why build more?

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