Archive for Monday, January 4, 2010

City Commission to consider approving expanded proposal for shopping center in far northwest Lawrence

A proposed site for a shopping center in Lawrence got the go ahead from city commissioners Tuesday. The mall would be located in northwest Lawrence.

January 4, 2010, 12:01 p.m. Updated January 4, 2010, 5:48 p.m.


Developers of a proposed northwest Lawrence shopping center have plans to make it bigger in an effort to attract a home improvement center and a discount department store.

City commissioners at their meeting Tuesday will consider a rezoning request that would allow for an additional 175,000 square feet of retail space to be built at the northeast corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway.

The development group — which includes Lawrence businessmen Duane and Steve Schwada — doesn’t have a deal yet, but it believes a home improvement center and a discount store are the most likely tenants for the development.

But the plans already have hit a snag as the Kansas Department of Transportation is expressing concerns about adding a new curb cut and right-turn lane on Sixth Street to accommodate traffic from the development.

“We believe operationally the road would continue to function well with a right-in and right-out access point, but we’re going to have to have more discussions with KDOT about that,” said Scott McCullough, the city’s director of planning.

KDOT engineers have expressed concern that allowing the new curb cut could create a precedent for multiple access points to develop along West Sixth Street, much like they have on 23rd Street.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the right-turn lane issue could jeopardize the project. Attempts to reach a representative with the development company on Monday were unsuccessful.

KDOT leaders essentially have the final say on whether the right turn lane — which would be between George Williams Way and the South Lawrence Trafficway interchange — is allowed. That’s because Sixth Street also serves as U.S. Highway 40, which means new access points must be approved by the state.

The city could take over regulatory control of Sixth Street, but that would mean a significant loss of revenue for the city. The state provides the city about $3,000 per lane mile each year to maintain Sixth Street, McCullough said. That money would be lost if the city took the road out of the state’s regulatory system.

Commissioners on Tuesday will be asked to approve a rezoning request and preliminary plat for the property despite the uncertainty surrounding the access issue.

The project — dubbed Mercato — already has been approved to house about 185,000 square feet of retail space on the northeast corner of the intersection of the South Lawrence Trafficway and Sixth Street. The proposed rezoning would allow that amount to grow to just under 360,000 square feet.

City planners are recommending approval of the rezoning request because they said the request will still keep the intersection below the 400,000 square feet of commercial space that planners have set as a maximum for the interchange.

Developers are asking for the additional square footage after a development plan for the southeast corner of the intersection expired without being built. That development — called Northgate — was approved for about 195,000 square feet of commercial space. Developers of Mercato are requesting that the bulk of the retail space set aside for Northgate now be added to their project.

McCullough said his office has studied the proposal, and has determined it likely will not be detrimental to the downtown retail market. That’s in part because two large big box stores are the most likely tenants for the new development.

But the rezoning does not commit the developers to marketing the site only to home improvement stores or discount retailers. Any number of retailers could end up at the site. McCullough said the city is reserving the right to re-study the proposal if the types of tenants end up changing significantly.

A timeline for the project to begin construction isn’t known. The developers previously have said they won’t begin construction until they have found a tenant.


tolawdjk 8 years, 4 months ago

Target wants a presence on that side of town now.

Dan Edwards 8 years, 4 months ago

Fingers crossed for a Costco but I'm thinking that doesn't really fit in the "discount store" category. As was already said, probably a target.

And yeah, I heard Lowes was going to try to get a store in NW Lawrence, which would be great too... one less store to have to drive to Joco/Topeka for.

Stuart Evans 8 years, 4 months ago

I can't fathom how this town would need another Home Improvement store. Lowe's is a big big company (assuming they are the interested retailer), so I guess that they've done their homework and are willing to take the risk. but it doesn't seem like there is that much demand for another lumber yard.

lwctown 8 years, 4 months ago

Yea..thats what we need more of the same. If we get enough big box retail we will be just like Topeka.

Paula Kissinger 8 years, 4 months ago

We need a Lowes because Home Depot sucks. The selection is poor and there is nobody roaming around there posing as an employee that knows anything. We also need a few "major" stores like Macys, Toys R Us, Petsmart, and a Costco would be great.

Ken Lassman 8 years, 4 months ago

Anyone notice that this is the former site of the Elkins Prairie that was so unceremoniously plowed up despite the county wanting to preserve it?

So sad....

CU_Buff_In_Larryville 8 years, 4 months ago

Does any one know if there is going to be a New Movie theater over there? I heard one may be going in. And a Rumer of a olive garden.

KU_cynic 8 years, 4 months ago

Making left turns into this new center while traveling east and exiting the center to proceed east will be hazardous without some major changes to the road -- like a signal and turn lane. Make the businesses pay for that upfront.

puddleglum 8 years, 4 months ago

olive garden gave up two years ago.

movie theater? are you kidding? that is a dying breed that can't afford prime retail real estate.

third wal-mart? naw, the second one hasn't hit one sales goal and in fact has done exactly what everybody in lawrence said it would do: split the business with the other store. now you have two stores' operation costs with the same gross sales....

I'm surprised Red Lobster hasn't shown interest in Lawrence-must be the racial-makeup of the community or something.

how about less chain big box crap and something cool?

oh, yeah-I forgot what year it was. sorry folks, I was living in the past when 'made in u.s.a.' was good and mcDonald's was considered crud-food instead of daily nutritional must-have. danggit

Joe Hyde 8 years, 4 months ago

The intersection of US 40 and K-10 is not a very forward-looking site selection. Why not put this shopping center at Kanwaka Corner (US 40 and Stull Road), since by all indications Lawrence's sprawl ten years from now will have devoured the entire land surface that far west anyway.

been_there 8 years, 4 months ago

Yes, Lowes, please Lowes, then I won't have to drive to Olathe when I need something other than a brush or a piece of wood. My parents had gone to Home Depot to get new kitchen cabinets and were not happy with the service. I convinced them to go to Lowes and look. They come back and have already bought the new cabinets which were being installed shortly thereafter. We have been slowly replacing our windows which we drive to Lowes to order. Nobody can match an old can of leftover paint like Lowes. Home Depot had no luck, neither did Westlake. I was so upset when the city chose Home Depot over Lowes way back. Please let us have a Lowes.

HOMETOWNBOY 8 years, 4 months ago

They should turn it into a livestock sale barn. All of you who are worried about loosing our heritage tend to forget Kansas towns sprang up because of the cattle business. Anyone ever hear of the Chisolm Trail? Abilene or Dodge City? The Kansas City Stockyards are gone now. It is so sad!

somedude20 8 years, 4 months ago

i would like a Honey Baked Ham Co to move in. I am not a huge ham fan, but theirs is ham good. They also have really tasty turkey and killer sandwiches...yum yum.

Olive Garden could be good as the Italian places around here kind of suck. I mean, Paisano's is so nasty that they make the Olive G taste like the most delicious, authentic Italian food ever. How do you make a breadstick tatse so bad? Yuck!!

kthxbi 8 years, 4 months ago

I second the white castle. Maybe there is something we can do to make that happen.

Ms_P_Lane 8 years, 4 months ago

NOOOoooo more big box stores and westward sprawl for Lawrence. PLEASE!

texburgh 8 years, 4 months ago

This is not new tax revenue for the city. It takes existing spending and spreads it out. Split the Home Depot spending with Lowe's but don't increase either one. Split the Iowa Walmart spending with 6th & Wakarusa but don't increase. This is sprawl with no benefit. And it is typical of the Lawrence City Commission these days. Developers get approved on one thing and then come back repeatedly for little changes until it doesn't even remotely resemble the original plan. Consider Bauer Farms - "new urbanism, walkable office/residential/retail." With seven drive through fast food restaurants and a car wash. The Lawrence City Commission - a wholly owned subsidiary of Lawrence developers. The best commission they could buy.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 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


4 out of 5 city commissioners from the westside constitute a problem.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

The idea is to put Home Depot out of business. Now we are moving from dumb to dumber economics.


Lawrence residents are now paying 50% of their income to City of Lawrence taxes while the city is filing for bankruptcy protection under chapters 7 and 11!!

Economic displacement broke the city. Downtown Lawrence is boarding up windows to match the Masonic Lodge building.

Speculation NOT Substance and Reaganomics/Wreckanomics were declared primary contributors to the failed Lawrence Economic Displacement Experiment.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

Bauer Farms is looking like a failed experiment due to lack of interest by new tenants.

Real Business people realize that Lawrence retail dollars cannot support the flooded retail market. Banana Republic turned down an opportunity to participate in the west side economic displacement experiment.

It is a mystery to me who would finance more retail in a flooded market. That is reckless lending like what brought the USA economy down and cost 8 million people their jobs. Radio news says 15 million people or more need employment which is to say that reckless retail spending dollars are not available.

Wall Street is not an accurate indication of the economy for Wall Street is supported with play money from the very wealthy. There are not enough "very wealthy" to support the USA,Lawrence,Kansas or generate 15 million jobs.

Radio news is not all that optimistic about 2010 or 2011 due to the very deep jobless situation.

OlderThanMud 8 years, 4 months ago

Home Depot versus Lowes:

I believe it's called "competition" and added variety. Sometimes "competition" results in savings to the consumer. With more variety you may be able to find exactly what you want instead of changing your plans.

conservative 8 years, 4 months ago

For those of you saying this would not be new revenue for the city you are wrong. Property taxes would be paid on the buildings (and before the misinformation begins we do NOT give tax breaks for retail development). The number of people who live in Lawrence but spend our money out of town is staggering. It happens because we can save serious money in some cases because local stores are too expensive or don't carry the stock we are looking for. All of those tax dollars go to those other cities. A lowes and a costco would be the top of my preference list.

Zachary Stoltenberg 8 years, 4 months ago

I agree. Lowes will put Home Depot out of business. HD Has little to no customer service and they know it, they don't care. Where else you gonna go in town? The backlash over their past actions would plummit their sales and after a few months of dropping numbers and their all important "sales goals" corporate will pull the plug. Lowes I think would actually bring in more sales from outside of town. If I live between Lawrence and Topeka and I know I have to drive anyway, I'm going to Topeka for Lowes... And red lobster. ;)

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

Any city needs wayyyyyy more than property taxes to fund the city budget. Flooded retail matkets do not pay back the taxpayers. But flooded retail markets do stress out existing retail thus causing others to go out of business thus loss of jobs and sales tax revenue = no gain just back to negative economic growth.

repaste 8 years, 4 months ago

400,000 ft allowed, 350,000 would be on 1 corner. what would happen to the rest? We will end up with 1,000,000 ft on intersection designed for 400,000.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

Which city, Overland Park or Lawrence, is practicing smart growth?

Lawrence has been on a spree of approving retail shopping centers that are not needed. The City Commission approved a second Wal-Mart. It approved another shopping center at 6th and Wakarusa, far beyond the square footage called for at that intersection. It approved two large shopping centers at 6th and the South Lawrence Trafficway.

This excessive approval of retail development proposals has been going on for some time, and it is harmful to the community. It hurts the downtown generally by siphoning spending away.

It makes it impossible to complete various downtown redevelopment projects, such as Downtown 2000, which has left the taxpayers paying for an empty parking garage building. It hurts the capacity of other downtown projects to attract tenants, such as the Hobbs-Taylor building. It adds to the stock of vacant and deteriorating space found all over town.

Lawrence has developed retail space at a growth rate of 3.0 percent per year from 1995 through 2007. Yet, inflation adjusted retail spending--a good measure of demand for this space--has grown by only 0.9 percent per year during the same time period.

Thus, Lawrence has allowed its supply of retail space to grow at over three times the pace of growth of demand for that space. This means that new space, if absorbed at all, simply takes demand away from existing space. The result is widespread vacancy, deterioration, and blight.

Overland Park is a nearby city confronting similar growth problems. It is interesting to note that Overland Park has kept the pace of growth of retail supply in line with the growth in demand for that supply.

From 1990 through 2007, inflation adjusted retail spending in Overland Park grew by 2.1 percent per year. During the same years, Overland Park allowed its stock of retail space to grow by 1.7 percent per year.

Overland Park is practicing smart growth. It is keeping the growth in supply in balance with the growth in demand. As a result Overland Park ’s retail market is in much better shape than is Lawrence ’s retail market. Lawrence is not practicing smart growth, and it is paying the price.

Kirk McClure KU Professor

Teaching and Research Interests * Housing Affordability, Community Development, Real Estate Development

Academic Areas * Urban Planning

Areas of Expertise Housing: Affordable housing programs and finance Real estate development: Market anaysis, project feasiblity

Education * B. Arch., U. of Kansas, 1973 * B. A, Urban Studies, U. of Kansas, 1974 * Master of City Planning, M.I.T., 1978 * Ph.D., City Planning, U. of California, Berkeley, 1985

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

What happens when developers control the pace of growth?

The Planning Commission tends to worsen these mistakes by granting the developers unlimited extensions of time in which to develop. When these developments initially go before the Planning Commission and the City Commission, they promise to initiate development within 18 months. Several have failed to move forward because they cannot find sufficient tenants.

Rather than admit a mistake, they ask for--and receive--extensions of time to look for tenants. The Planning Commission should admit the mistakes of approving these unneeded developments and refuse the extensions.

Lawrence city government is controlled by the coalition of developers who contributed heavily to get pro-developer individuals elected to the City Commission.

These elected pro-developer city commissioners have appointed pro-developer friends to the Planning Commission. This means that developers are getting all that they ask for, even when it runs contrary to the community’s plan which calls for balanced growth.

There is value in smart growth. It prevents loss of value to existing centers. It protects the existing downtown. It helps maintain a healthy level of investment in existing shopping centers. It promotes redevelopment plans.

Lawrence is losing value rapidly. Smart growth can help resolve that problem, but we need leadership that understands the harm that results from letting developers set the pace of growth.

We need leadership that understands that smart growth will not happen by itself; we need to consciously plan for our future and work hard to achieve it.

Kirk McClure KU Professor

This and other comments can be found in my blog: ======================================

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

"I believe it's called “competition” and added variety."

Lawrence used to have a half dozen or more lumber yards. If Lowe's comes in, there will be three, and the main difference between them and Home Depot is its preference for blue over orange.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

*Economic Growth Problems in Lawrence

Why Is Lawrence Growth Lagging?

Do you think the ‘New Urbanism’ Bauer Farm project planned at Sixth and Wakarusa is a good idea?

Should farmland near the intersection of Highway 24/40 and North Seventh Street be developed into a business park?

BigPrune 8 years, 4 months ago

A right in and right out? That will insure that property is never built upon. So people will have to come from the east to turn in but have to exit going west. So everyone will be making u-turns along the way. I feel sorry for the poor bastards who will have their property devalued tremendously if they can't build anything on their property if this project takes away all their square footage. Ridiculous as this sounds, I'm surprised planning didn't tell them the other big box will have to go across the street.

Smart growth - ruining our quality of life. All hail the sacred cow Horizon 2020.

texburgh 8 years, 4 months ago

"The city will not let the developer run away with the area."

What planet have you been living on? Our city commission regularly lets developers run away with areas! The best example happens to be Bauer Farms at present time. Again - it was sold as "a new urbanism mix of retail, residential, and office space." Now it's a stand-alone CVS, seven drive through fast food restaurants, and a push for a car wash. I guess they'll put loft apartments on top of the car wash.

If you think the city commission will hold developers to the plans they submit, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

The Lawrence City Commission is owned by the developers - the best commission a developer can buy.

LogicMan 8 years, 4 months ago

"Lowes will put Home Depot out of business."

It would hurt sales, but my guess is no. Payless Cashways (now the Toyota dealer) went out of business nationally, but their Lawrence store was very profitable. It did kill off nearby 84 Lumber (now Goodwill) when it opened, however.

Whelan's was sold recently, and continues to struggle due to the housing market. Also Westlake on 6th would be affected. So, again, my guess would be these two might be doomed by Lowe's coming to town way over there on the far west.

Home Depot would likely trim its staff, especially during low-traffic hours, and reduce inventory a bit. And if they are wise, they'd find/help fund a tenant for that empty building in front of them that would attract guys with disposable income. Hooters.

KsTwister 8 years, 4 months ago

Let the developers pay for the sewage and water they need,don't go taxing us for it. We can do without if that is the situation.

cowboy 8 years, 4 months ago

Lowes would hammer Home Depot . Lowes product selection is a lot better than HD , HD has pretty much irritated everyone who has ever shopped there with their lack of service , competition with local contactors , and general incompetence. Whelans / McCray will be ok , they sell good lumber and are a pretty tight run ship. For those of us who use lumber every day McCrays is a lot easier to load from and the pricing is better , and lumber quality better than others. You go to HD and load up a bunch of lumber and you're worn out before the day even starts.

Zachary Stoltenberg 8 years, 4 months ago


I have worked at HD. Their corporate offices track the sales of each store. They are aware of what their market share is in a given area. If Lowes were to locate Lawrence, just like Cowboy and most everyone else in town have said, they are going there instead. ANY drop in business at home depot will decrease their market share and make them less profitable. When their corporate offices see the same amount of overhead and half the profits, they will close the doors. Yes they can cut staff to 'trim the fat" but this will contribute to even worse customer service, (if it can get any worse than it already is) and will further exacerbate the problems that already exist. They will lose more business with less staff. And cowboy is right. Most contractors and developers do business with McCray or one of the other suppliers, not HD. However, the price, selection, and availability offered by even a small Lowes store would likely attract some business from home builder's as well. Mark my words. If Lowes comes to town, De-pot is as good as dead. And I think that goes with any other option, not just Lowes. I'd really love to see a Menards.

jayhawkjg 8 years, 4 months ago

CostCo would be good. They pay their help good wages, also sells quaility products. The store would bring customers from far and wide, also tax money for the city of Lawrence.

hipper_than_hip 8 years, 4 months ago

"McCullough said his office has studied the proposal, and has determined it likely will not be detrimental to the downtown retail market."

It's a study from 2007 that they're quoting. Pay no attention to the fact that the economy has tanked in the last two years.

Bud Stagg 8 years, 4 months ago

What most of you are missing is that this town needs more customers for the retail that is here. We need jobs, good jobs. If we can attract some decent jobs, the holders of those jobs will spend their money at the retail establishments here.

Cut the deal with companies wanting to locate here.

estespark 8 years, 4 months ago

I will spend White Castle.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

'ATLANTA (Reuters) - A dismal job market, a crippled real estate sector and hobbled banks will keep a lid on U.S. economic growth over the coming decade, some of the nation's leading economists said on Sunday.'

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