Archive for Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mass. Market: Soon, groceries downtown will again be a thing of the past

February 24, 2010


On the street

Does Lawrence need a grocery store downtown?

I don’t think so, with all the bars and restaurants. It wouldn’t be able to compete with the larger established grocery stores across town.

More responses

The cupboard is bare, save for packets of yeast, locally made salsa and a few other odds and ends marked down to nearly half off. The deli is dark and lifeless, having served its last meal in January. The happy strains of Caribbean music still strum in the background, now thunderous in a suddenly cavernous and rapidly emptying space.

Once a ground-breaking urban organic grocery and deli, The Casbah Market, 803 Mass., is quickly shuttling out inventory during limited hours each day but Sunday — 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. — and with each sale, comes closer to shutting its doors for good.

“We’re just kind of waiting to see what happens with the inventory,” says Cassy Ainsworth, co-owner of the store. “And then when we get most of the inventory out, we’ll close the doors.”

The end of the Casbah also means the end of a short grocery renaissance for downtown. A hundred years ago, Massachusetts Street was flooded with grocers, meat market proprietors and dry goods wholesalers competing for Lawrencians’ food dollars. But when the Casbah opened its doors in January 2008, downtown had been without a true grocery for 12 years.

Produce is displayed on the sidewalk outside of the E.W. Wood Grocery, 911 Mass., in 1886.

Produce is displayed on the sidewalk outside of the E.W. Wood Grocery, 911 Mass., in 1886.

The A&P grocery, where Allen Press is now, was the last large grocery in downtown Lawrence. The photo was taken in the mid-20th century.

The A&P grocery, where Allen Press is now, was the last large grocery in downtown Lawrence. The photo was taken in the mid-20th century.

Throw North Lawrence and East Lawrence into the grocery-less mix, and a large area banded by 15th Street, I-70, Iowa, and the eastern city limits again persists without a place to buy staples and fresh produce in a traditional market setting.

Food science

Why the grocery drought in that particular section of town? It’s not about the number of homes, it’s about the dollars, says Roger Zalneraitis, the city’s economic development planner and coordinator.

“It’s not just households they’re looking at but the disposable income they’re getting out of the census data as well,” Zalneraitis says. “Then, as a secondary consideration, even if a grocery store wanted to locate in this area, would they be able to find something of the size to compete? Just generally, a smaller store is going to have higher costs just because you’re not going to be able to get the same sales per square foot.”

What would it take to have a regional or national grocer try to make it? The same thing that caused the recent additions of two large groceries on West Sixth — Hy-Vee and Dillons — development. Zalneraitis says development like the Hobbs Taylor Lofts on New Hampshire Street does help, but there needs to be more for larger grocers to take notice.

“I think that if the population growth continues, then that makes the argument a lot better — a lot more likely that a grocery store will show up, take root and stay, as opposed to giving it a go for five years and being successful and moving on or not being successful and closing shop,” he says.

Jane Pennington, director of Downtown Lawrence Inc., says there’s also a model that might prove stable in downtown merely because it can make it in some of the largest cities in the world: the bodega. Half-newsstand, half-grocery, half-convenience store, she says a New York-style model might function well.

“I don’t know the formula for actually making it work, and it may be that because of the rents, that it’s not a feasible format,” she cautions. “But I would think that if you had enough variety that you could fill those quick, everyday needs and that you might be able to make it.”

Working with what’s there

Deron Belt, president of the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association, says that while he would like to see a full-service grocery downtown or in East Lawrence, he thinks the best option for now would be to work with what’s available: The Dillons at 19th and Massachusetts.

“We’re now left with waiting for Dillons to remodel itself, and that’s going to be our choice on the east side of Lawrence,” Belt says, pointing toward the company’s remodels and expansions at its stores at 1015 W. 23rd St. and 4701 W. Sixth St. “If they remake the store in that image, it’ll certainly give us more choices at that store, it just doesn’t give us more stores to chose from.”

Sheila Lowrie, communications coordinator for Dillons, says that she has no news on possible improvements to the store, 1740 Mass., which was built in 1960 and is the city’s eastern-most grocery. However, she did say the company was aware that the Massachusetts Street location does see more “neighborhood” customers than other Lawrence stores, meaning more people are apt to walk to the store or visit it after a long day of work downtown. While the company does realize this might mean that store is ripe for a renovation that includes more deli and take-home items along the lines of the 23rd and West Sixth Street locations, nothing is planned.

“There is extensive work that is done, not only by Dillons stores but also through our parent company with Kroger as far as evaluating store locations and determining what type of capital expenses we can endure and what type of projects we can facilitate that will both serve the community and serve our business needs as well,” Lowrie says. “We do continue to work to really make the shopping experience our customers have in our stores the very best, and if that does include renovation projects, we’re exploring all of those options.”

Other grocery options also being explored? The sale of the Casbah. Ainsworth is tight-lipped on potential buyers but did say that she and the store’s other owners, Ainsworth’s husband, Josh Millstein, and his sister Casey Millstein, have been in contact with an interested party. Though she declined to say if that potential buyer was planning to enter the grocery business, Ainsworth did point out that little would have to be done to the space if that were the case — and that there would already be a customer base.

“We’ll close the doors, and then hopefully in mid-to-late April, somebody will come in and reopen the business,” she says. “We’ve just been so lucky to have the people shopping here that we’ve had.

“They’ve just been really supportive the whole time, and they’ve been supportive all the way to the end.”

By the numbers: Groceries in downtown Lawrence

2: Number of years The Casbah Market remained open as an organic grocery and deli.

186: Number of grocery suppliers in Lawrence as a whole between 1900 and 1956.

69: Number of grocery suppliers to come and go on Massachusetts Street from 1900 to the Great Depression.

4: Number of years (nearly) that Wild Oats was at 1040 Vt. before it closed in 1996, leaving downtown without a grocery for 12 years.

1916: Year Piggly Wiggly, 935 Mass., became the first chain to introduce self-service grocery (before, customers were waited on by clerks).

1,800: Square feet of the average grocery in Lawrence in 1909.

2,200: Square feet of The Casbah Market.

67,313: Square feet of HyVee, 4000 W. Sixth St.

86,000: Square feet of the newly expanded Dillons, 4701 W. Sixth St.

1: Number of groceries that opened and closed during The Casbah’s run: The Eastside People’s Market, formerly 409 E. 12th St., which was open from May 2008 through early 2009.

— Sources: Watkins Community Museum of History, Hy-Vee, Dillons and The Casbah Market.

— Staff writer Sarah Henning can be reached at 832-7187.


gccs14r 8 years, 3 months ago

I don't see the limited footprint of the typical downtown storefront being able to host anything resembling a full-line grocer. I think if I were going to try to operate downtown I'd leave bread to Wheatfields and concentrate on canned and dry goods. If I made it as a canned and dry goods grocer, then maybe I'd try produce in another storefront. Only then would I think about opening a butcher shop, which would lose money for awhile until it built up its reputation. In all cases, I'd have to think about my potential clientele and stock accordingly. There isn't room to stock several grades of everything unless each item gets only one facing, so a decision would have to be made early on whether to stock inexpensive staples for the students and the working stiffs, mid-grade stuff for the average shopper, or all "boutique" items for the discriminating shopper. It's hard to change your focus mid-stream, so that early decision better be the right one. Wild Oats and The Casbah didn't make it, so trying to out-Merc The Merc apparently isn't the ticket. Inexpensive is covered by Checkers and Wal-Mart, and Dillons and Hy-Vee cover the middle. Downtown is too far from either East Lawrence or North Lawrence to be within practical walking distance, so most potential customers are either riding the bus or using a car. Once transportation comes into play, hopping from store-to-store becomes less appealing. Putting a store up in either North or East Lawrence seems like the practical alternative, but then it needs to be a full-line grocery, which has enormous startup costs and fierce, established competition.


more_cowbell 8 years, 3 months ago

It does NOT have to be on Mass St., as the Casbah was. Mass St. north of 11th is a bar zone, not a grocery zone. I would imagine there are some open sites in both North Lawrence and in East Lawrence (north of 15th) that would make a good location for the neighborhood.

Why not a chain that's not already in Lawrence, like a PriceChopper, or Food4Less... I know, the one on Iowa St. closed, but that was most likely due to the proximity of the big-box retailer grocery sections at Target and Wal-Mart.

I'd prefer a 2nd Checkers for the area, to complement the one on 23rd and Louisiana, but that would take a big commitment by the ownership in tough economic times. Then again, the price of the property needed might have gone down as well.

A case could also be made for a 2nd ALDI, as the one at 31st and Iowa is quite a long trip for those who don't have their own transportation.

Kookamooka 8 years, 3 months ago

I saw our East Lawrence Dillons on a real estate listing in a National on-line realty site. They want to sell it. No buyers yet.

Kookamooka 8 years, 3 months ago

I heard the Harley store was going out of business North of the river and that used to be a grocer. It would be awesome if an Aldi's came closer to downtown. Then I'd shop there. I only shop South Iowa for singular "particular" items.

Aileen Dingus 8 years, 3 months ago

I'd love to see a grocer go in to the space vacated by Maurice's. I work downtown and it would be great to have a real grocery store close by.

The Casbah was nice, but it really didn't meet basic needs. I appreciate organic and all natural etc, but it was too niche to be considered a viable "grocery store" IMO.

Scott Tichenor 8 years, 3 months ago

Remodel the "ghetto Dillons" as it's called? Unlikely.

Tandava 8 years, 3 months ago

It was obvious to anyone with half a brain that The Casbah Market was going to go out of business. It was hard to find a parking spot, the prices were through the roof, and they didn't have a good selection of vegetables. Oh yes, the food in the deli was terrible tasting. Their demise was inevitable. In order to run a successful business of any kind, a person must first have a good business sense, which the Casbah owners obviously did not have.

januarygirl 8 years, 3 months ago

there is a need for a grocery store in east lawrence as far as 1600 rd that would serve the population this far east and past that point. north lawrence is really cut off from a store and the points futher north. the city of lawrence and west areas all have what is needed. why does the west part of town have so much and the east has to fight for everything , even to keep the shelter out of this area for many reasons that have been stated. we are hit again struggling with this issue. we do need a grocery store out here.

Sigmund 8 years, 3 months ago

You mean despite the $250,000 Placemaker study and after being touted by Chad Lawhorn, merrill, and the PLC et. al., the CashBah failed?

"Shopping for a supermarket?: Consultants recommend downtown grocery"

"A vision of the city's future: Residents see downtown grocery store, shopping center ideas at workshop"

And I was so sure the millions of dollars we spend every year, year after year on the empTy would bring them hundreds of shoppers! Wait a minute, no I didn't. Well at least the one in Portland that Placemakers studied is a success! Wait a minute, no it didn't.

Zac Hamlin 8 years, 3 months ago

It seems as though the old part of Lawrence is experiencing the same plight that the smaller communities in Douglas County have been confronting for years. As inexpensive growth rings have wrapped Lawrence Major Market and Box Stores have made it difficult for anything smaller than them to exist. When grocers (or any business for that matter) considers moving to a market they look for where the schools are being built. That's where the people are going to be. I understand that this article didn't link the Downtown/east/north Lawrence school issue to the grocery issue. But they are most assuredly tied to each other. I would recommend Ms. Henning issue a follow-up researching and reporting on this fact.

anonyname 8 years, 3 months ago

The article states: Jane Pennington, director of Downtown Lawrence Inc., says there’s also a model that might prove stable in downtown merely because it can make it in some of the largest cities in the world: the bodega. Half-newsstand, half-grocery, half-convenience store, she says a New York-style model might function well. “I don’t know the formula for actually making it work, and it may be that because of the rents, that it’s not a feasible format,” she cautions.

If the description of the bodega is Pennington's and not the reporter's, I certainly wouldn't expect her to find a formula to make much of anything work!

down_the_river 8 years, 3 months ago

Small correction to the article, but as I recall, the A&P wasn't the last major grocery downtown. The Kroger store at 9th & New Hampshire, later transformed into Waymires (and perhaps Way-Lo?) was still around after the A&P closed. Seemed like it closed shop in 77-78?

jehovah_bob 8 years, 3 months ago

januarygirl (anonymous) says...

". . . why does the west part of town have so much and the east has to fight for everything . . ."

Because the West side is the best side.

And dowtown does have a grocery store, it's called Dirty Dillons.

George_Braziller 8 years, 3 months ago

When Jayhawk Food Mart at 9th and Indiana first opened in, I think, 1988 it was a bodega. Had a deli counter, produce section, news stand, and standard convenience store fare. It was fantastic. Problem was the store manager left in the mid-'90s about the time Wild Oats opened just a few blocks away. Soon after it turned into just another convience store with dried up hotdogs and over-priced bags of potato chips.

"Jane Pennington, director of Downtown Lawrence Inc., says there’s also a model that might prove stable in downtown merely because it can make it in some of the largest cities in the world: the bodega. Half-newsstand, half-grocery, half-convenience store, she says a New York-style model might function well."

asbury 8 years, 3 months ago

What about A&P, which used to be at 11th and Mass. and Kroger/Waymire's on New Hampshire? Didn't see them mentioned in the article. Or Retter's at 14th and Mass. for that matter.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 3 months ago

The "east side peoples market" had a self-destructive business model: in the article about them they said they'd purposely increase price for shampoo and other "nonessentials" so they could lower prices for beans and rice. both "peoples" and Casbah" were ecowacko, vegie. if they'd been real markets without a socialist/elitist attitude, one or both would be making money very well today!

Jennifer Alexander 8 years, 3 months ago

Put a Dillons/Hy-Vee or Merc on East 23rd near the East Hills Business Park. 19th Street Dillons is too small and too far away. 23rd Street Dillons is also far away. Something on East 23rd would be great for Southeast/Southwest Lawrence

BorderRuffian 8 years, 3 months ago

Face it, Larryvillians - downtown is NOT the international Mecca you think it is. It is more like a micro Boulder, Colorado, with its trendy little eclectic shops and lots and lots of bars. Downtown is NOT the kind of place for sustaining surrounding neighborhoods, nor, do I think, does it want to be. With the lack of parking (and free parking), extremely high rental prices (retail), and general lack of neighborhood planning in regards to commercial development, downtown is hardly conducive to large anchor stores or grocery stores. I think city planners have been more interested in creating this strange admix of little specialty stores, restaurants, and bars in the interest of attracting college kids (and their frats and sororities) than they have been in creating neighborhoods that are vital and sustaining.

Wouldn't it be interesting if city planners actually began thinking about revitalizing the close-to-downtown neighborhoods? Everyone pouts about how awful it is that west Larryville is filled with Walmarts, grocery stores and other amenities, as if it all represents some sort of plague on downtown. But, IT ISN'T ALL ABOUT DOWNTOWN! It's about the people living in Larryville! Larryville is MUCH MORE than the sniveling little KU kids. It's also about all the folks living there who were there long before each year's crop of funky little jayhawks, and who will be there long after most of them have either dropped out drunk, or (gasp) graduated.

KU may be the biggest establishment in Larryville, but the permanent residents in Larryville represent a huge part of the purchasing power and dollars spent there. It's about time for downtown to sober up and get it right!

Sharon Newell 8 years, 3 months ago

A grocery store survived in North Lawrence from the 1950's until the 1990's. This store was known as Cole's, Rusty's, and Roger's IGA. I don't remember the last owner, but he was not there long. This was the last stop for groceries for many people working in Lawrence and living in Jefferson and Leavenworth Counties. After reaching the city limits, the closest full service store is approximately 8 miles, that is Dillon's 19th and Massachusetts and Dillon's at 6th and Lawrence Ave. The North Lawrence Community and many of us who live North of Lawrence would like to have the convenience of a good grocery store North of the Kaw River.

jehovah_bob 8 years, 3 months ago

You all are failing to see the solution that is staring you right in the face.

Move to the west side, it is so awesome over here.

I have four grocery stores within two minutes of my house. Let me tell you, it is pretty sweet. Though sometimes I have a hard time deciding which Dillons I'm going to shop at, it just depends on if I have drycleaning or movies to return.

Jennifer Dropkin 8 years, 3 months ago

The Casbah Market was a great idea, and the owners learned a lot by running it. One of the things they learned is that they weren't big enough for distributors to give them the price breaks that the bigger guys get.

I wish the market had lasted longer, but I'm proud of the owners for giving it a try, and prouder still (I say this as a nonvegetarian) that they held to their vegetarian principles. I can't wait to see what they try next.

The biggest problem in getting grocery stores where they are needed is that businesses don't think in terms of neighborhood needs--their plans are all based on the idea that absolutely everyone will have a car and endless supply of fuel, so, if stores are built in the hinterlands, the populace will travel to the hinterlands.

When cheap fuel runs out, we'll all want neighborhood grocery stores.

BigPrune 8 years, 3 months ago

“Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.” - Winston Churchill

A & P closed its doors on Mass. years ago. IGA on north 2nd closed its doors years ago. Waymire's Meats on N.H. closed its doors years ago. There used to be a convenience store on Mass that closed years ago. There used to be a Woolworth's that closed years ago.

Of course, downtown can't support a grocer or a vegetarian restaurant. Sure, lots of people who live in their own little downtown world say they will shop at one, but they never do. You can't rewrite historical facts no matter how hard you try.

ralphralph 8 years, 3 months ago

Small stores have to pay more for their goods than WalMart sells them for. You can't make a go of it doing that. You have to have something else to offer ... whether it is the "organic" or other specialty type of foods that the Mart doesn't do well, or whether it is some sort of service or convenience, that is the only hope ... and it's not much of a hope.

Sure would like to see livable, walkable neighborhood communities, and I'm not sure I understand why that can't work, particularly in the area east of KU, where you could walk to school and to downtown.

BigPrune 8 years, 3 months ago

Fyi. Walmart is the largest seller of organic foods in the world.

gccs14r 8 years, 3 months ago

"Fyi. Walmart is the largest seller of organic foods in the world."

Assuming it's actually organic, since the BushCo FDA eviscerated the requirements. These days, it seems like nearly any carbon-based foodlike item can get an "organic" label slapped on it.

Steve Miller 8 years, 3 months ago

Basically th only thing that downtown can supoprt is bars.

nineteen84 8 years, 3 months ago

Josh and Cassie are first class people and I wish them the best.

lindseydoyle 8 years, 3 months ago

Community Mercantile started out in the 600 block of Mass and there was Sommers Market in the 900 block. They would deliver. My grandmother got her food from there. There was also a grocery at 4th and Louisiana and Turners Market at 7th and I think Arkansas. They also sold bait in the basement.

TheStig 8 years, 3 months ago

Placemakers Study: $250,000.00 Property Value: $493,000.00 Corporate Welfare for Fire Sprinklers: $25,128.15 Rent paid to parents: $0

Being able to tell your hippie friends you're a "green grocer": Priceless

ooophelia 8 years, 3 months ago

I'm really going to miss them, even though I barely ever went in there. I'm all about organics, but that place always seemed too dark inside, and they sold the same stuff as the Merc. They needed more of a niche.

educatedintheusa 8 years, 3 months ago

For City Planners to be able to plan for the amenities which foster good health, neighborhood jobs, and greener living then residents need to publicly express ideas which could result in positive action. Several bodegas situated for possible pedestrian and/or bicylcle access would benefit the entire Lawrence community.

somedude20 8 years, 3 months ago

what I will miss the most is Cassy Ainsworth as she is, hands down, one of the most beautiful women in the l-town. that red hair, smiling face, and long gorgeous legs. best of luck Cassy.

Blessed4x 8 years, 3 months ago

I think downtown needs one of those handy little Wal-Mart Neighborhood stores. Everything you could want in a handy, little package. Plus it would drive the hippies crazy! Win win.

Munsoned 8 years, 3 months ago

A grocery store must be accessible to those in a wheelchair or someone pushing a stroller. Sorry, Casbah, but I could not get through your store and I left without buying anything.

Kathy Theis-Getto 8 years, 3 months ago

Durn it gnome! I was right there in agreement with you until you got to.... ...."without a socialist/elitist attitude....". You've been reading "The Road to Wigan Pier" again haven't you? It's all good though, you ARE one of the good guys afterall. :-)

Kookamooka 8 years, 3 months ago

What's that grocery store everybody raves about in St. Louis...Panama Jacks? Something like that. If you want deli and cheese and food to buy downtown its gotta be Au Marche and Brits. :) Get your bread at wheatfields and your veggies at the farmers market. You can pretend you live in Paris

dontcallmedan 8 years, 3 months ago

Trader Joe's is a great store. Big on the west coast. Probably couldn't make it in Lawrence because of Kansas liquor laws. I will miss the Casbah. Josh, Cassey and Casey are fine people.

Sigmund 8 years, 3 months ago

Merrill is often criticized for his cut-n-paste from the Progressive Socialist Workers World Party of Community Organizations style of posting. He is never given credit when he does have a original thought. It is time to give him his due!

merrill (anonymous) says... "This store is a grand idea with Casey and Josh having been around growing and cooking food all of their lives. Casey is a good cook for sure and can deliver a mean Tofu dish."

"Keeping some basic produce available,some bulk items and other choice basic products will make this venture a success."

"The Casbah has some history with a delightful Hummus from sometime ago so I see no reason why a small deli would not work out."

"Anyway I see a some of east Lawrence and Old West Lawrence and some North Lawrence using this as a quick stop for some tofu, garlic, onions, rice, carrots, apples, oranges, lemons and/or spuds etc etc".

"What the Tanger mall forgot was a grocey store and a hardware store for it's anchors. People need these things."

"The downtown market will fly I'm willing to bet cuz it's more about providing a necessary service rather than competeing with grocery giants."

Even though merrill was "willing to bet", I bet he didn't.

PebblesFlintstone 8 years, 3 months ago

I work downtown, and do wish there was a little supermarket around for when I get a wild hair to make something for dinner that I don't have on hand. Which is why I only went to the Casbah once. I needed plain yogurt for a dish I was making and stopped there to support local, avoid having to drive up to Dillons, yada yada. So I went in and they had no plain yogurt, but plenty of pomegranate and kiwi and other non-basics. I mean, I would have paid $1 for a 39-cent cup of yogurt just for the sake of convenience, but it just wasn't an option.

I think a lot of the stores in downtown feel they have to be just a little too precious and niche-y just because they are downtown. And I do kind of believe a basic market could make it there as long as it stocked a wide variety and kept convenient hours but that seems anathema to doing business in the district. Oh well. As the man says, "done, done, on to the next one."

Sparko 8 years, 3 months ago

One word: Dillon's. Really, it is what, five blocks away? I used to walk there every day from further away. Not sure about Casbah's business model, but I love Dillon's bakery. . .

Flap Doodle 8 years, 3 months ago

There's some serious moustache action in the photo at the top of this story.

ooophelia 8 years, 3 months ago

What we really need is a Fresh&Easy. I think that would do well downtown, too, since a lot of it is prepared food.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years, 3 months ago

The idea of a downtown grocery would have to reflect downtown "living", which still isn't really happening downtown. I think the bars and the homeless will keep very many from living in the actual downtown, and without that, an actual downtown grocer is never going to make it. Markets survive in places like NYC because of the dense population living within walking distance. How many people actually lived within 4 blocks of the Casbah? If the second floor of every downtown building had lofts and apartments, then a downtown grocer has a chance.

Sandy6383 8 years, 3 months ago

What about the space on 10th and Vermont ? How about we get a Trader Joe's or Whole Foods in that space!

bearded_gnome 8 years, 3 months ago

  1. Valkyrie_of_Reason
    Valkyrie_of_Reason (Kathy Getto) says...

Durn it gnome! I was right there in agreement with you until you got to.... ...."without a socialist/elitist attitude....". You've been reading "The Road to Wigan Pier" again haven't you? It's all good though, you ARE one of the good guys afterall. :-)

---Well thanks ma'am [tips hat like cowboy]. But Miss Valkyrie, aw shucks, I dernt need any Orwell book larnin' to be the way I is. just doin what comes naturally.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 3 months ago

None2, sorry we can't use the Tanger outlet mall for a grocery store because Merrill has already alocated that to be the next site of the homeless [drunken/druggie] shelter.

wow, Sigmund somehow that doesn't surprise me that the Casbah had the Merrill seal of approval. maybe that's the major reason it failed?

not so sure of bodegas now Ms. Pennington: newsstands sem less attractive with so much more internet reading going these days.
now maybe a combo: pack and ship, library, bathroom, groceries, entertainment, prostitution, maybe that'd go? [lol]

Mark Kostner 8 years, 3 months ago

In 2008 there was a proposal for a shopping center or shopping district on the other side of the bridge behind Johnny's. This proposal may have been postponed due to the economy but it did include a grocery store . I googled the story for you. If there's any life in this development, there may be your grocery store. I'm curious what became of these plans and if the developers are still pursuing this project.

Sigmund 8 years, 3 months ago

bearded_gnome (anonymous) says..."wow, Sigmund somehow that doesn't surprise me that the Casbah had the Merrill seal of approval."

Not only that, but our tax dollars to improve their private property.

"Approve reimbursement to Dave Millstein of $25,128.15, or 75 percent of the installation costs of a sprinkler system at 803 Mass. (Casbah), pursuant to the 2007 Downtown Fire Sprinkler Incentive Program."

This wasn't a loan, it was a grant and now that the building is up for sale I wonder if they will pay that money back? Or maybe Placemakers will return the $250,000 we paid for the Chad Lawhorn touted Market Study? Word on the street is the City of Lawrence could use it.

By the way here is a list of other rich and well connected downtown landlords who got 75% of their fire sprinklers paid for. They got my share of our tax dollars but they will never get another dime from me.

Tellers, 746 Mass: George Paley Lawrence Masonic Temple, 1001 Mass: Consolidated Properties, aka Doug Compton Buffalo Bob's, 719 Mass: Bob Schumm Goldmakers, Peter Zacharias The Bayleaf, 725 Mass: Anne Yetman The Casbah, 803 Mass, David Millstein Hobbs, 700 Mass, Mark Swanson Silverworks and More, James & Cara Connelly

itsmyopinion 8 years, 3 months ago

Yes, we need a grocery store downtown. North Lawrence would be best. The families in North Lawrence must go all the way the 18th and Mass or out 6th Street buy groceries. It is amazing that the elitists believe that those of us who choose to live in North Lawrence need more than gas, liquor, or witchcraft. We have families who need groceries. It is ridiculous to have to drive miles to get a decent priced loaf of bread or something more substantial like a week's worth of groceries for a large family.

Sigmund 8 years, 3 months ago

itsmyopinion (anonymous) says... "Yes, we need a grocery store downtown. North Lawrence would be best."

Feel free to invest and risk your own savings. If there was any chance that a grocery could make money downtown or in North Lawrence The Merc, Kroger, or Hy-Vee would have been all over it years ago. According to Google Maps there are 2 Dillons, a Hy-Vee, and a Walmart within 5.3 miles or 8 minutes from you. Quit your whining suck it up and ride the empTy that we pay millions of dollars every year, year after year, so you can go get groceries.

lounger 8 years, 3 months ago

The Casbah was Kick A*s!! I will miss it dearly.

I refuse to go to the YUPPY magnet that is the merc. Snotty upper management and just yucky vibe really-pretending to care kind of crap.

The Casbah was family based and even ran out to get produce from the garden they kept on the next block! Great attitudes and lovely people!

jimmyjms 8 years, 3 months ago

High prices, irregular hours, no staples.

Going out of business.

Those patties were awesome, though.

educatedintheusa 8 years, 3 months ago

Does Dollar General sell quality fresh food at affordable prices?

Jeff Cuttell 8 years, 3 months ago

nugget (anonymous) says...

Remodel the "ghetto Dillons" as it's called? Unlikely.

I've heard that is the plan. They took over the little barber shop to the south in that building. If they remodel and expand that Dillon's, that is close enough to downtown. They NEED to have a grocer store on 23rd East of Harper. Hopefully, Price Chopper or Hy-Vee. Checker's is ok because the prices are good, but selection isn't and it is a pain to get there. The only problem would be getting one to go in out there if all of the homeless people are running around there begging and stealing.

That would be nice for North Lawrence if an Aldi's opened in that vacant building from the Harley dealer also.

I think those locations would be spread out enough that they all could succeed.

Jeff Cuttell 8 years, 3 months ago

lounger (anonymous) says...

Lounger says---The Casbah was Kick A*s!! I will miss it dearly.

I refuse to go to the YUPPY magnet that is the merc. Snotty upper management and just yucky vibe really-pretending to care kind of crap.

The Casbah was family based and even ran out to get produce from the garden they kept on the next block! Great attitudes and lovely people!

Maybe they should have advertised the garden, the people, or anything for that matter. You can't expect people to come if they don't know you exist or are not reminded to come shop and give you a try. I always thought that was some clothing store and I am downtown regularly. Just because downtown has foot traffic doesn't guaranty people know about you. I see Merc ads all the time. Or Hy-vee, Checkers and Dillons, for that matter. Did they ever have sale items or anything?

Sounds like lovely people with no business sense. Other downtown businesses should learn from this and Round Corner and Blue Herron and all the others that thought, "We are downtown. We have people walking by all the time. That;'s enough advertising for us."

That's what people will do to.....Walk on by.

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