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Archive for Friday, October 1, 2010

Looking forward

It won’t happen overnight, but Lawrence now is in a position to really get to work on improving and marketing the former Farmland property.

October 1, 2010

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The city of Lawrence finally has taken possession of the former Farmland property on the east edge of the city and can get to work on realizing the site’s significant economic development potential.

Farmland was a solid employer in Lawrence for many years, but the steam-belching fertilizer plant never presented the best first impression for travelers entering the city on Kansas Highway 10. Now the city has the opportunity to turn the 467-acre site into an attractive and productive community asset.

Although City Manager David Corliss said that residents should see noticeable changes at the site within several months, developing the property will be a long process. The city is responsible for addressing contamination issues left behind by the fertilizer plant. Some parts of the property will require more cleanup than others, and the city will have to make significant infrastructure improvements before development can begin. However, with the transfer of the property complete, city officials are in a position to start pushing development forward.

In some ways, it would have been nice if a private developer had stepped forward to manage this property. The primary advantage of that scenario is that taxpayers wouldn’t have had to assume any financial risk for the property. On the other hand, having this plot in city hands gives our elected leaders the control to ensure the property is developed in a way that best serves community needs.

One of the big needs for Lawrence right now is large industrial sites that economic development officials can market to local businesses that want to expand or to outside firms considering a move to Lawrence. The former Farmland site should be able to fill that need as well as providing smaller sites that may be more suitable for bioscience ventures that outgrow their incubator space in West Lawrence.

City officials now have the opportunity to look at the entire Farmland plot and create a plan that not only serves the city’s economic development needs but reserves land for open space and other uses which collectively will provide a handsome and attractive entrance to Lawrence. First impressions mean a great deal.

Corliss said this week that taking possession of the Farmland property “is just the end of the beginning” for the city. That’s true, much work remains, but it’s exciting to see the city ready to start moving forward on a site that holds such promise for Lawrence.

Comments

Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

It is imperative that Lawrence conduct a market capacity study to understand the market potential, before any vote can be taken on retail,residential or light industrial proposals. Communities are increasingly demanding of applicants to underwrite the cost of an independent analysis to determine market capacity and the economic impact. Citizen taxpayers deserve to know how new development will impact property taxes,sales revenue and employment generated at other businesses in the community.

All new development is often mistaken for economic development when instead it could easily be promoting economic displacement instead of economic growth. Generally the people it affects the most are least likely to understand it.

Could this be a reason for our extraordinarily high taxes? Could this be a reason Lawrence has become the most expensive place to live and do business in Kansas?

The big box corporations are waging a war of indoctrination. They need us as accomplices in the destruction of our own hometowns. The big retail corporations, like Home Depot, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart and Best Buy, are known in the industry as "category killers." The name is significant. These businesses do not intend to compete with local stores; they aim to be the primary games in town.

Every developer that comes before a City or Planning Commission make their projects sound like they were written in Lake Wobegon where all the site plans are good looking and the economic impacts above average. The symptoms of retail saturation are everywhere.

Our governing bodies must remember there are still only so many retail dollars available in any community and Lawrence is but a small town surrounded by established commercial competition aka KCMO/JOCO and Topeka Metro.

Glenda Breese 4 years, 2 months ago

Thats nice that LJworld thinks what the city did is Okay,But if you read you own readers blogs you will see that a great majority of your readers disagree!! It is NOT OKAY!!

Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

High Tax Dollar Growth and Further Saturation of the Market = Unfriendly to Business = Baur Farms as THE primary example.

Tax dollar incentives are unfriendly to the local taxpayer therefore must have voter approval. Not Smart Growth Costs all of US http://www.sierraclub.org/sprawl/report00/intro.asp ======================================

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

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2009/jul/24/retail-space/?letters_to_editor

Glenda Breese 4 years, 2 months ago

When we the people go to VOTE in 2010 (IF we are given a choice) you will know the people have spoken.

Practicality 4 years, 2 months ago

"On the other hand, having this plot in city hands gives our elected leaders the control to ensure the property is developed in a way that best serves community needs."

Because they have done such an outstanding job of doing that so far?

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