Archive for Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lawrence city commission rejects Lowe’s proposal

In a vote of 4-1, city commissioners voted against building Lowe's at Sixth and Folks. The location could be reconsidered.

October 6, 2010


Lowe’s says it’s not bluffing.

Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday set the community on a path to find out.

On a 4-1 vote, city commissioners rejected a plan that would have allowed a Lowe’s home improvement store to move forward on a site near Sixth Street and Folks Road, citing the proposal did not fit with previously approved plans.

Commissioners rejected the $14 million store — which was estimated to create 125 new retail jobs and about $700,000 in annual sales and property taxes — after Lowe’s officials said this was the only site in Lawrence that would work for the company.

“We’ve heard that the community wants Lowe’s but we don’t want them at this site,” said John Petersen, an attorney representing Lowe’s. “But the bottom line is this: There is one opportunity for Lowe’s, and it is at this 11-acre site.”

Previously several city commissioners had expressed optimism that Lowe’s could be persuaded to locate at an already zoned location near Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway. But a senior site development manager for Lowe’s told commissioners that site was evaluated but “was never an option” because it was too far away from housing and other retailers.

Commissioners, though, did not blink. A majority pointed to previously approved plans that showed the area near Sixth and Folks developing with a mix of housing types that would be part of a new urbanism development that features walkability and an old-style neighborhood feel.

“I wish it were a different answer,” said Commissioner Rob Chestnut. “I wish Lowe’s criteria matched up more closely with the land-use regulations and expectations we have created for this site. But this is just too far of a departure.”

Neighbors put an even finer point on the matter. Several said that approving Lowe’s would be breaking a political promise dating back to 2008 when a compromise was struck to allow Walmart to build a store at Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive. Neighbors were told then that the area east of Walmart would not be allowed to have big box stores.

“Lowe’s is a fine company,” said Charlie Crabtree, who lives in the area. “But there is no urgent need for them that means we have to throw out all of our plans.”

But the Lowe’s project drew significant support from the business community with everybody from the leader of Lawrence’s Amarr Garage Door plant — which has its product sold by Lowe’s — to the Chamber of Commerce speaking in favor of it.

City Commissioner Lance Johnson was the lone commissioner who supported giving the project more time by sending it back to the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission, which previously had recommended against the project on an 8-2 vote.

“I’m OK with changing a plan if it makes sense to do so,” Johnson said. “You can find yourself in a time where the decisions made back then don’t make sense now because the world has changed.”

In other news:

• Commissioners agreed to keep the city-appointed Community Commission on Homelessness. The group currently has three unfilled positions, and questions had been raised whether the committee was still needed. Commissioners said the advisory board has a role to play, but does want to see the size of the group reduced from 11 members to nine.


Lee Eldridge 7 years, 4 months ago

Darn. I understand the decision, but would like to see a Lowes in Lawrence. I drive to the Lowes in Topeka at least a couple times a year for things I can't get here.

Demerit 7 years, 4 months ago

Poor thing!

Driving to Topeka twice a year...why, that's an outrage!

pizzapete 7 years, 4 months ago

Just buy more of your darn flashing when you're in Topeka.

somebodynew 7 years, 4 months ago

While I too would like to see Lowes, I applaud this action. I might be a conspiracy theroist, but I fail to follow Lowes logic in that it was this spot or nothing. Sounds like they and the developers (who can't sell the housing idea now) might be in some agreement to "hold the line".

It strikes me that other Lowes stores aren't neccessarily in the middle of residential areas, so why does this one have to be??? People drive across (and into) town to go to Home Depot, so why wouldn't they drive the extra half mile or so to a better suited site?? And especially for a better store.

Something just smells a little fishy here and I am glad the commission did not fall for it. And what is with Johnson (?) wanting to send it back?? The Planning Commission voted very hard against it and Lowes seems pretty set in their way - vote and get over it.

Stuart Evans 7 years, 4 months ago

These big stores (Lowe's, Wal-Mart, Target, et. al.) do a lot of research on their locations. They triangulate diminishing returns based on distance from the store. I'm sure that this is a matter of just enough people NOT driving that extra half mile, and the corporation making a distinction between 20% and 18% profitability.

puddleglum 7 years, 4 months ago

"but I fail to follow Lowes logic in that it was this spot or nothing"

I agree 100%

somebodynew 7 years, 4 months ago

Well, while I don't tell anybody anything, there are rules and zonings and planning decisions in PLACE. Why should I ask them to be CHANGED just because Lowes apparently did some research???

What about the people who moved to that vacinity based on the fact that was SUPPOSED to be a residential area??? Do YOU just trample on their ideas???

Jimo 7 years, 4 months ago

The City is not denying them use of their property - an innocuous sounding statement that any law student would know was a key legal point. Compton can use the land for any purpose that it is zoned for. Government doesn't owe him a dime unless they deprive him of all economic use (government action always increases or decreases property values). He bought the property - or rather bought all the ownership that he could - with the residual regulatory and takings power of government hanging over the deal. To point: he bought it for less, perhaps considerably less, as a consequence of that fact. Now, he wants to rewrite the deal: buying low and selling high. In short, to cheat.

gccs14r 7 years, 4 months ago

So if someone wanted to turn the property into a sludge pond for an aluminum smelter, that's OK with you? How about if it were your next-door neighbor who wanted to install the sludge pond? Still think it's OK, even though it would crater your property value and possibly kill you? Sorry, but civil society dictates that there be rules about who can do what where for the common good. Property rights are not absolute.

gccs14r 7 years, 4 months ago

You're the one who keeps hammering on the idea that people are free to do as they please with their property. Apparently you believe that only as long as it doesn't affect you directly.

gccs14r 7 years, 4 months ago

OK, so how does violating current zoning by putting up a giant ugly box with acres of flood-inducing parking not infringe upon the property rights of neighbors?

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

Since nobody has complete control of their children, it's quite possible they might trespass on your property - perhaps the government should pass a strict law forbidding children to ever be out of the control of their parents in order to prevent it.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

I'm using your arguments about pollution - you're the one who believes that the mere possibility of trespassing must be prevented, even if such trespassing is not harmful.

Remember that conversation?

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

That's exactly what you said - and argued strongly that the mere possibility that any pollution would encroach on your property (regardless of whether it caused harm) required a zero-emissions governmental regulation.

Just curious - how do you heat/cool your living space, get around town, buy groceries, etc.? All of these activities have the potential to encroach on someone else's property rights through pollution.

And, the fact that you have sunk to name-calling shows the paucity of your arguments.

gccs14r 7 years, 4 months ago

And drains go where? That's right, downhill. Who is downhill from 6th and Folks, and do they want their storm drains to disgorge Lowe's water into their yards and basements? Another way to control runoff is via an impoundment basin, but where would that go on the current site, and did Lowe's have any plans to install one? Oh, and you completely ignored the big box industrial retail aspect of the proposal, which is very different from the current mixed-use zoning in terms of view, noise, lighting, and potential amenities.

The original land purchase was agreed to under very specific circumstances. If Compton doesn't like the agreement he signed, TS. He should have read it first, or maybe he hoped no one would call him on his attempted bait-n-switch.

gccs14r 7 years, 4 months ago

You haven't been thinking at all. You have a canned response for any story regarding property use, yet can't see the hypocrisy of your own position that property owners can do whatever they like as long as it doesn't affect you personally. The property in question was purchased with known covenants. A Lowe's violates those covenants. No Lowe's. Try again.

gccs14r 7 years, 4 months ago

I think I understand property covenant just fine, thanks. There are certainly several references to covenants in planning commission and city commission meeting minutes regarding this property. I'd like to read the original sales agreement, but that does not appear to be available online to the general public. Given what I've read so far, it appears that the City already permitted a significant departure from the original sales agreement just by agreeing to a retail waiver from 65,000 to 72,000 sq. ft. Sh*tcanning the original agreement and amendments thereto in favor of a single giant box is beyond reasonable, though, and would probably prompt legal action from the previous owners or their heirs against both the developer and the City.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

Then your zero-emissions governmental regulations on polluting aren't necessary - since you claim they must prevent even the possibility of trespassing, regardless of harm.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

If you keep calling me names, I will flag your comments and have them removed.

Your argument was that trespassing, regardless of harm, must be prevented because it is a violation of property rights.

Lindsey Buscher 7 years, 4 months ago

Yes, as a member of the public somebodynew can raise a concern about where things are located...for instance he/she can object to your mother's basement being located in his/her neighborhood and that opinion would be taken into consideration.

Hudson Luce 7 years, 4 months ago

I'd like to put a CAFO and sewage lagoon uphill (and upwind) from your house. You'll get used to the stench, eventually, and when the lagoon finally bursts open, you can pay me for the liquid manure which fertilizes your land. Hopefully you've got your doors shut, fertilizer is hell on carpets, not to mention books... Libertarianism does have its practical limits, and no, you can't do with your property whatever you feel like doing with it, there are constraints either from zoning, which prevents against possible harms, or the common law of nuisance, which tries to repair the damage after the fact, but is rarely successful. All things considered, I think most people prefer zoning and planning.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

Of course it would, which is why we have zoning.

Matthew Herbert 7 years, 4 months ago

Don't worry Lawrence city commission, we didn't need the 125 jobs, nor the added tax revenue. Everything in Lawrence and the economy as a whole are just fine. Geesh.........

All because we didn't want to put a big box store in such a "beautiful area". Thank you for protecting the beautiful view created by Taco Bell and SmashBurger. Nothing says "classy" like a McDonald's play-place coming up on the horizon.

jfcm77 7 years, 4 months ago

LOL, Renaissance. Now the Sprint store, on the other hand...

bradoor 7 years, 4 months ago

I bet the all the people against Lowes already have jobs. I wonder if they would feel different if they didn't have one. Why let Lowes move into an area where they can make money - move them to some out of the way place and let them abandon the building in a few years.

Empty lots or buildings with for rent look pretty good to. We could let a contractor on the payroll build there.

justforfun 7 years, 4 months ago

One can only hope so! When will people learn?? But hey lets build a 30 MIL library instead! (joking only joking)

farr700 7 years, 4 months ago

Great job commish. Keep the big box West of Wak. I wonder how many they have in the country across from a high school? I'd drive an extra 1/2 mile anyway.

LogicMan 7 years, 4 months ago

We want Lowe's! But we want it just west of the new Wal-Mart, on the old horse farm. Or further out on sixth, or possibly just west of Hy-Vee on 6th (plow the army barracks apartments, etc. there). Or drop the special taxing district at the chosen site.

purplesage 7 years, 4 months ago

Unfortnate. Having something accessible on the north side of town woujld be nice. Didn't accomplish much with the Walmart, jr. - That place just doesn't stock what I go in for.

puddleglum 7 years, 4 months ago

but they do have chinese-made crap that is very cheap and good for you

cowboy 7 years, 4 months ago

put it on some county ground , lawrence gets nada

I agree with other posters in failing to see the aesthetic beauty of the whole area at 6th and Wak. Looks like every JOCO intersection

GUMnNUTS 7 years, 4 months ago

Does that mean all the bumkins in Linwood have current tags?

MarshmallowsFTW 7 years, 4 months ago

Unrelated comment is unrelated. I fail to see how this comment applies to the topic of Lowe's proposal being rejected. Or even how it relates to the comment you replied to.

GUMnNUTS 7 years, 4 months ago

Just responding to a comment marsh, and if you had some reading comprehension skills you might see a connection.

windjammer 7 years, 4 months ago

Shewmon , have you ever tried makeing a statment without throwing a political twist into it? Get a life.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years, 4 months ago

And what else would you expect from this clueless, spineless, Core-less yard sign "commission" to no growth, no jobs, no tax income and generally head-in-the-sand political back-stabbing. What a bunch of full-time losers!

no_thanks 7 years, 4 months ago

Way to go Lawrence. We may be the dumbest community in America to turn down a quality retailer looking to expand, especially given the economic headwinds. The decision by the City Commission was arrogant (thinking they know an area that is better for Lowe's than Lowe's itself), short-sighted (Lowe's is bluffing), and frankly wrong. Horizon 2020 is in dire need of being updated to account for current conditions. The result of this action will not only be the continued decline of local sales and property taxes, but it is the resurrection of the Lawrence is "unfriendly towards business" wall. Congratulations to the "anti growthers". I hope you enjoy being mired in the 1990's.

puddleglum 7 years, 4 months ago


I thought you'd have said " no thanks "

Lindsey Buscher 7 years, 4 months ago

1990s was a great decade...budget surpluses all around and a lot of population growth and economic prosperity.

Your unwillingness to live in that decade probably outs you, no_thanks, as an "anti-growther" along with frwent, Renaissance, Shewmon, Corky and everyone else on here unwilling to back the proposed compromise.

Because it should be noted that Lowe's is, in fact, the one unwilling to compromise. The City has offered an alternative. They do not do that for every business. Lowe's is not going to have decreased profits by locating an extra 1/2 mile west. In all likelihood, it is the property owners who are offering incentives to locate at that site because they do not want their competitor property owners at 6th and Wak to make money of selling land to Lowe's. In fact, profits will probably increase at 6th and Wak because by building on a highway intersection, you make it easier to capture retail dollars from outside the City and County, which is a great thing from an economic development standpoint.

BTW, Horizon 2020 is constantly being is a fluid--not static--document. There is evidence of the fluidity of the comprehensive planning process right there in the article:

"the proposal did not fit with previously approved plans... A majority [of commissioners] pointed to previously approved plans that showed the area near Sixth and Folks developing with a mix of housing types that would be part of a new urbanism development that features walkability and an old-style neighborhood feel."

The "plan" referenced in the article was approved within the last five years, and when it was merely a proposal, it was not in line with Horizon 2020, so H2020 was amended and updated to bring it in line with this new "plan."

However, there was a phenomenal bait-and-switch with this "plan" because what we got out at Bauer Farms does not resemble any new urbanist development...ever.

There was already a lot of compromise with this whole area because what we got is a drive-thru pharmacy (not walkable), a drive-thru car wash (not walkable) and a couple of drive-thru fast food chains (again, not walkable). You got to draw a line somewhere and it seems that a big box store in front of a high school was a great place for said line.

no_thanks 7 years, 4 months ago

Please tell me how Horizon 2020 has been updated, or are you referring to the interpretation of it as becoming more restrictive. And, lets be clear, the 1990's was a propserous decade because Lawrence was successful in attracting new businesses. This whole zoning debate is more about people being upset about a developer modifying his plan based on changing market conditions, which is typically good business, than the plan itself. But instead of discussing alternatives to how we could make that site work (such as changing the building architecture to where it doesn't look like a big box store, scale back the size, if necessary, require more landscaping, etc... ) for Lowe's, we arrogantly state there is a better location.

Lindsey Buscher 7 years, 4 months ago

Why don't you simply go to the source to learn more about H2020?

"The Planning Commission is in the process of completing the five-year comprehensive plan update. As of January 2009, Chapters 1-7, 9, and 12 have been reviewed, updated, and amended. Chapters 8,10,11 and 17 are currently being reviewed and updated.

Future updates to Horizon 2020 will incorporate new information and a chapter related to environmental and natural resources."

It is not a government conspiracy or a big secret, it's right there on their website!

Lisa Rasor 7 years, 4 months ago

Puggy, A well-written, well-reasoned explanation. Thank you.

chevybear 7 years, 4 months ago

why should the Lawrence city commission worry about jobs or tax revenue.they will just vote to raise you're house taxes and sales taxes by 50% next!!! now see wasn't that easy

Don Whiteley 7 years, 4 months ago

Yep, building a Lowe's doesn't meet the city's plan for keeping jobs and tax revenue out of the city. There's hardly a major retailer in the city that hasn't had to fight tooth and nail with city hall to locate here. That's okay, Topeka and Kansas City still like my tax money.

Lindsey Buscher 7 years, 4 months ago

That's just a flat-out lie of omission, just like a typical right-wing nut-job... There's hardly a major retailer not in the City, in fact Lawrence has 8 or the Top 10 retailers in the Country, and yet you still prefer to spend your money in Topuka and KC?

  1. Walmart
  2. Kroger
  3. Target
  4. Walgreens
  5. Home Depot
  6. Costco
  7. CVS
  8. Lowe’s
  9. Sears
  10. Best Buy Source:

The fight is good for Lawrence, it brings compromise which is good for gives the residents a stake in the market. Yet ultimately none of those 8 retailers were denied entrance into Lawrence's market. Lowe's will probably eventually build a store in Lawrence, but not without a compromise.

That would make 9 out of 10. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

no_thanks 7 years, 4 months ago

I hope your right, but expect that you are wrong. You can see Lowe's skid marks as they get the hell out of town.

stopit 7 years, 4 months ago

It would be nice to have it now. I think many people would like to see 125 jobs created. Construction and plans would take at least a year to get done.

Lisa Rasor 7 years, 4 months ago

Does Lowe's pay a living wage?

125 jobs that pay minimum wage won't do a whole lot for people.

gccs14r 7 years, 4 months ago

If the wages are too low, we could end up subsidizing Lowe's payroll via welfare supplements, just like we do with Wal-Mart. That's not a tax win.

rcr 7 years, 4 months ago

I would love to see a Lowe's come to town, but not with them dictating to us where it is going to be located. I too would drive the extra half mile down the road to go there. It would beat driving clear across town to go to Home Depot. But if the fight this and win, they would lose my business anyway, just as walmart has. I will drive across town to target before I go to Walmart because of the way they forced themselves in at there newest location. I commend the city council for sticking with the plan and not caving in to another large corporation trying to force their way in.

texburgh 7 years, 4 months ago

Couldn't agree more. An excellent post.

nobody1793 7 years, 4 months ago

So you'd be ok with people putting porno shops right next door to elementary schools?

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

Without planning and zoning regulations, that is an entirely possible scenario.

Caesar_Augustus 7 years, 4 months ago

I'd rather see the "new" walmart in that location than more apartments (which is what would be there if it wasn't for the walmart. This walmart is much more convenient for me as I drive by it every day, and stocks most of what I need.
I'm glad they are where they are. I won't shop at Target because it sucks.

I hope that the area at 6th and SLT does not expand too soon. 6th to SLT is a major way many people go to the lake, hauling their boats, jetskis, etc, and there will have to be a major overhaul of the road system out there before any businesses can come to that area and that's something we dont need. It's already a major choke point at the overpass.

Sue McDaniel 7 years, 4 months ago

Keeping it simple, what a typically stupid move. We have so many jobs and choices in this town, SOME people need even a low paying one.

Randy Leonard 7 years, 4 months ago

I live in Lawrence because it is not Topeka or Kansas City. I too would like a Lowe's but city plans are developed for a good reason and should be followed. Thanks to the commission for sticking with the plan.

Jimo 7 years, 4 months ago

Considering the City all but begged Lowe's to build elsewhere, your statement cannot be logically true. Please withdraw it.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

You and Richard S. from another thread have a lot in common.

You both maintain a belief system that requires ignoring many facts, and interpreting others in a strange way in order to justify it.

Jonathan Becker 7 years, 4 months ago

You really need to read Citizens United v. FEC before you write again, but it is apparent you have never let facts stand in the way of your opinion. The property where Lowe's wanted to go was zone Multi-residential, not commercial. When it was zone multi-residential the western part of the Bauer Farm was to be commercial with a maximum of 72,000 sq. ft. of commercial, with no one building being more than 50,000 sq. ft. The approved plan was approved so adjacent property owners would be able to plan and use their property to their quiet enjoyment, that you rapidly extol.

If you had listened to the debate, the 125 jobs Lowe's proposed, only 70 of them would be full time.

If you had listened to the debate, Lowe's would spend $11 Million, not $30 Million.

As you extol your fantasy of a free market, just give us a heads up that everything you say is meant to funny. Then we will take you seriously.

Khublai_Juan 7 years, 4 months ago

Your post makes no sense. Compton is one of the most well-connected men in town. If the city bends over backwards for the well-connected, then why didn't they approve this plan. It appears that Lowe's is pushing this site so hard because they are being offered a very good deal from Compton, in order to keep them from moving down the road to someone else's property.

skinny 7 years, 4 months ago

Here we go again, the City of Lawrence costing its citizens thousands of dollars to fight the big box. It's no wonder our taxes are so high!

Tim Quest 7 years, 4 months ago

Kudos for sticking to the zoning plans, Lawrence. I have lived and worked in cities that sold out to big-box developers, with no real zoning plans. And it was an awful mess. Lawrence already has South Iowa, we don't need another suburban big-box wasteland.

lawrencechick 7 years, 4 months ago

Thank you for listening to the community. That is a terrible spot for a Lowes. There is a huge plot right next to walmart. What is wrong with that? There is obviously a sweet deal going on between the developers and Lowe's that they won't budge from that spot.

tifosi 7 years, 4 months ago

Location is one of the most important factors in the success of any retailer. Lowe's wanted to build there for specific reasons. They will not build anywhere that they can't see working for them. Lawrence just shot themselves in the foot, Lowe's will take thier 14 million dollars they were going to spend here and build a nice store in another city.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

Ok - bye to them.

If the above poster is correct, and it's the choice between 18% and 20% profit, I see no need to cater to their greed.

And, if the specific part of that location is that they get to use a CID tax that is hidden from consumers and spent on private business expenses, then that's even more reason to disallow it.

Jeteras 7 years, 4 months ago

you will let WALMART! of all retailers go in this area and not a store that will not only boost the economy with jobs and tax revenue but will also promote the construction market in Lawrence,,, oooooo heaven forbid..... I have several friends that use the contractors supply at Lowe's Topeka and go there sometimes 2 times a week to get things that are either better quality or that home depot does not carry... Its ok we can let Topeka have all that revenue,, they need it better than our ROADS!! some ppl need their head examined..

puddleglum 7 years, 4 months ago

no walmart- was a trick the developers pulled a rezoning to try to ensure that home depot would in fact build here...after the fact, they slid in Wal-mart on the supposed technicality that wal-mart is not a department store, but rather a 'variety' store.
The only people that wanted the wal-mart at 6th and wak was Doug compton and bill newsome, the property owners. Wal-marts lawyers combined with the developers' 'influence' forced the issue.

Here, we have the same players again, but this time they want another big box, Lowes to come in....the major difference is that the Lowe's store is not approved for the zoning at this site. So the city has no worries, court-speaking. Lowe's certainly will re-present a smaller store-plan (probably with a contingency for expansion-clause) and it may pass-it may get rejected...

One thing is for sure, once again the majority of Lawrence citizens do not want a Big Box store right across from the high-school....pretty simple solution: look elsewhere. maybe north Lawrence (lots of cheap land available) or further out west at 6th and K-10 already sounds like Lowe's doesn't want to deal with schwada (big surprise) at this site.

Personally, I don't care one way or another if Lowe's comes here. the jobs pay at poverty level, but some competition in town would be good for everyone, if it means better service or lower prices... The issue isn't that we do or do not want lowe's. That doesn't really matter, does it?

This issue is about whether or not two developers and one out-of-state big box corporation can come into our city and strong-arm us into allowing them to build in a place that we don't want them to.

Khublai_Juan 7 years, 4 months ago

This does sound like a competition between Compton and Schwada.

stopit 7 years, 4 months ago

Don't forget American Eagle Distribution Center.

Alceste 7 years, 4 months ago

"...part of a new urbanism development that features walkability and an old-style neighborhood feel...". Huh?

" old-style neighborhood feel....". In that area? You're joking, right? If people who move out to East Topeka want " old-style neighborhood feel...." and are concerned about the Community of Lawrence and not their own little simplified ticky tacky house movement, why aren't they living in Old West Lawrence, Oread, or...heck....even Alvamar? That area will NEVER have a residential "feel" to it....never.....Not possible. Isn't going to happen. It's East more and no less.

Bring it, Lowe's.

Randall Uhrich 7 years, 4 months ago

Get ready for another lawsuit against another big bucks company. Remember what Walmart did when the Planning Commission denied them the permit to build their second store? Filed suit that "their right of freedom to pursue their economic interests was being denied". They won, no contest. Big Bucks always wins out over thoughtful planning or community interests. You can thank the Republicans for this policy.

Jimo 7 years, 4 months ago

The City had already passed key decision points with Walmart and was trying to back peddle. That hasn't happened here (who says government never learns?). Courts routinely uphold established zoning regulations.

texburgh 7 years, 4 months ago

I applaud the Commission for finally sticking to their approved plans. Lowe's is a fine company but they can go west of Walmart.

As for the jobs, let's not lose sight of the fact that most of them are relatively low wage retail - good second jobs but not jobs that feed families. And the sales tax issue is bogus. Building this store does not create more sales tax revenue, it just shifts some from Home Depot and Ace to Lowe's. Just read the posts above; many of them say the benefit is not having to drive cross town to go to Home Depot.

ggwalker 7 years, 4 months ago

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

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

If nobody wants to locate at the current site with the current plan, then developers shouldn't have presented those plans to the city.

They did, and they were approved.

One would think that those developers had a pretty good idea that businesses would want to locate in such a development.

Practicality 7 years, 4 months ago

How on earth does that community have an "old-style neighborhood feel" when it was a corn field 20 years ago?

Maybe Lawrence should start marketing their money trees that apparently grow at city hall, because it is difficult to understand this decision. All you people who are slapping eachother on the back because you think you just stuck it to a big "box store" are funny. Maybe you can go to the Home Depot celbratory party, because I am sure they are having one.

Take_a_letter_Maria 7 years, 4 months ago

I may be wrong. I have been before and I will be again, but as I remember it, these developers presented the planning commission with a master plan for the entire plat from Folks to Wak, Overland to 6th BEFORE they purchased the property. The approval of their development plan was one of the contingencies of purchase.

IF my memory is correct, then the city is not taking away the rights of the property owner. They are enforcing the agreement that the property owner already reached with the city and I won't cry any tears because their original vision for lining their own pockets isn't panning out as quickly as they would have liked.

Jimo 7 years, 4 months ago

Okay Mr. Beck, calm down. You're being hysterical about your imaginary fears.

pizzapete 7 years, 4 months ago

Liberty Dumb, they are after you next, better go run and hide.

scaramouchepart2 7 years, 4 months ago

The city has set what I can and cannot do on my property and we all live by those rules. So why should a newcomer get better rights than I or you have to do with their property. It is time that those who are there have their property rights upheld. By not making Lowes follow the rules the city would be taking my rights away.

ohjayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Zoning has been in place in this country for decades. In fact the first significant zoning case taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court was in 1926 (Villiage of Euclid, Ohio v. Ambler Realty Co.). Four of the six Republican justices (including Chief Justice William Taft) upheld that the zoning ordinance was not unreasonable. Please don't make this into an extension of the other stuff that is actually going on that is infringing on our rights. There are plenty of those around right now. Zoning laws, however, are not one of them.

Godot 7 years, 4 months ago

Those folk who are on the waiting list for subsidized or free housing must be cheering this decision to reject 125 new jobs and $700,000 in tax funds, This is going to help them bunches.

deec 7 years, 4 months ago

Actually those people would most likely still qualify for subsidized housing even if they were working at these hypothetical jobs.

davidmcg 7 years, 4 months ago

Both sides are right in this matter. The city is right to stick to their zoning plan. They made a promise and a contract with those in that area for development. Residents of the area stayed or re-located to that area based on those promises. The location the city prefers offers better highway access and in the next 2 years when the economy recovers, that is where the next expansion will be. The site chosen by the city would also be more beneficial to those who live outside of the city and prefer to avoid heavier traffic and stop lights.

Lowes selected site however benefits them bot immediately and in the future. The traffic that retailers require already exists in that area and will only increase in the future.

So it was both a hard and easy decision made by the city. Stick to the plan and uphold promises made to those in the area. The result of which means that at least the city leadership kept their word, but at the same time means a loss of revenue almost immediately. In todays economy, revenue speaks volumes.

In the end, I am not a resident of Lawrence, but I believe the city made the right choice. As a non-resident, which I live in Jefferson County, I would really like to see a Lowes in Lawrence, but I would prefer the location the city chose. When we go to South Lawrence in the area of Wal-Mart and Home Depot, we always go through Perry-Lecompton and take K-10 to avoid the traffic congestion and crazy drivers. It might mean an extra 5 miles of driving, but at highway speed and lack of congestion it is actually faster.

Lawrence is expanding slowly now, but in 2 years as the economy recovers, it will expand rapidly. When that happens, it will most certainly occur along the western sides of the city closer to K-10. The land is cheaper, access to highways is much easier and is better managed by the state.

Lowes needs to swallow the immediate loss and build further to the west. The slight loss of revenue over the next 2 years to them would be limited. The long range revenue gain would be worth it.

Thats_messed_up 7 years, 4 months ago

Lawrence won't be expanding in 2 years! LOL Lawrence has earned every bit of a anti-business city reputation. I hope Lowes never looks back.

sherbert 7 years, 4 months ago

I can't believe we're going through this again. All the legal battles and expense we went through with Walmart and we all lost. We got a smaller store with less choice and convenience for us, but I'm sure no one can tell the difference of what it is and what should have been there. Now the city is going to ruin the Lowes project for us. We need jobs, we need tax revenue and we need shopping options. I agree with the poster above who said it would otherwise just be more apartments or another unsightly strip mall. I don't think the Walmart with it's spacious area and nice landscaping looks any worse than the stuff on the other 3 corners at that intersection.

Godot 7 years, 4 months ago

Lets have a review of the success of the various "plans" concocted by the planning commission since the early 90's. How much better off are we, thanks to Horizon 2020, (or whatever it is called)? How many jobs have been added to the Lawrence community? How much has the average wage grown? How much has our tax burden risen? How affordable has it become to live in Lawrence?

The fact is that it has become increasingly more difficult for businesses to operate in Lawrence, more difficult for new businesses to locate here, jobs have not grown, salaries have not increased, taxes have risen, and hundreds of our citizens cannot even afford to pay for their own housing.

Rather than turn job creators away, time and time again, because the businesses do not conform to "the plan," we should throw out the plan and start all over. It clearly is not working. .

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

Well, if we stopped giving tax abatements to lure companies here, it would help balance the tax base a bit.

Matthew Del Vecchio 7 years, 4 months ago

I don’t know if you noticed but times are tough all over. Lawrence is much better off than most of our state.

Richard Payton 7 years, 4 months ago

Today's other headline read - City to look into boosting retail. Yea right! Retail task force members don't have to look hard to understand what drives retail away! I thought the City of Lawrence needed the tax revenue and jobs josh I must not get their plan. Essential services are needed in Lawrence which exist by jobs I thought.

scaramouchepart2 7 years, 4 months ago

Stop using American Eagle as a bad city decision. American Eagle was approved by the City Comission and the City Commission bent over backwards to get them here. The chamber uses the "fiasco" as if the city said no. Not True, American Eagle left for cheaper labor and the City Commissioners know it. It is about time you all did. As for free market and the city telling me what I can do with my property. They do! I can use it to live in and have a very specific set of rules to use my home as a place of buisness. The people who live here have rights and the new player needs to abide by our rights not dictate to us. Lowes is welcome by most and if Lowes really believes Lawrence is a good place they will try to find a place to build. As for Mercato being to far away that is stupid.

Matthew Del Vecchio 7 years, 4 months ago

Why is everyone assuming Lowes will fight this in court? The city simply enforced the zoning already on the books. Buy your home improvement crap from Cotton's, Westlake's, Electric Supply Lighting, etc. so they can continue to employ your neighbors and contribute to the city coffers. If you must buy everything thing under one roof then drive to Topeka. In fact do us a favor and move there.

Great job city commish.

gatekeeper 7 years, 4 months ago

Just tear down what was the Tanger Mall in N. Lawrence and build it there.

Evan Ridenour 7 years, 4 months ago


This article posted right above an article discussing how Lawrence's retail restrictions cause many retail stores to bypass the city.



Practicality 7 years, 4 months ago

Everybody keeps yammering on and on about some "plan". This is a ridiculous argument. 30 years ago, the plan for this area was a corn field. "Plans" change to suit the needs of a community. So, when will be the approriate time to deviate from this arbitrary plan? 10 years from now? 20? 100? Or, do people really believe this "plan" is somehow like one of the ten commandments? It will change, because it will have to, 100 years from now this area will not look like it does now, just like 100 years ago it doesn't look like it does currently.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

According to a poster above, the mixed use plan approved by the commission was recent.

And, yes, plans change to suit the needs of a community, not the needs of a specific retail business.

Practicality 7 years, 4 months ago

What difference does it matter when the plan was put in place if you admit that it would change. Or is it set in stone forever?

If a business does not suit the needs of the community it will fail to stay in business. Pretty simple idea really.

FYI, the very first building in that entire area, long before Free State or any homes was a McDonalds. Corn fields, Wheat Fields, McDonalds. That was all there was out there. So one could say that the McDonalds was the cornerstone of the entire community.

hail2oldku 7 years, 4 months ago

"Practicality (anonymous) replies… FYI, the very first building in that entire area, long before Free State or any homes was a McDonalds. Corn fields, Wheat Fields, McDonalds. That was all there was out there. So one could say that the McDonalds was the cornerstone of the entire community. "

False - there were plenty of homes just southeast of this intersection off of Harvard. I remember working for Johnny Ezell and wondering what the hell he and Bob Stephens were doing developing "way out there" as the homes were going up. The McD's didn't come for some time after those homes. That is also discounting the old farm and horse barn that sat where the Wal-Mart is now and the old Queen house just down the road both of which were there long before the housing at Harvard and Moundridge.

Practicality 7 years, 4 months ago

Unless I am mistaken, Harvard does not go to 6th and Wakarusa, and I don't think I am mistaken.

Yes, there were homes to the southeast of that intersection, because the entire city of Lawrence was to the southeast of that intersection. That was my point. You are correct about the farm being there, because that was all that was out there. In essence, at one time there was a "plan" for it to be farmland. Then that plan changed. Now, apparently, there is a plan for it to be new urban development. That plan will change too, given enough time, just like the previous farm plan, and the "plan" for it to be native habitat prior to the farm. Why is "this" current plan held to some higher standard than the previous plans?

hail2oldku 7 years, 4 months ago

Harvard is one block south of Sixth, just as Overland is one block north of Sixth. It, and the housing development, are close enough to the intersection in question to be considered in this conversation. That is why those houses received mailed notice of the Lowes proposal being presented.

The plan for new urban development did not include a big box store. Yes, I understand that this means the plan is changing. Unfortunately, the fact that other people purchased property in the area knowing that it was zoned one way because of the plan, by changing that original plan to a level that different zoning is required you are harming the ability of those other property owners to quietly enjoy their property. This plan is being held to a higher standard because they are asking for a higher density usage zoning than what is already in place for that property. AND that property is already zoned for higher density usage than originally planned based on a request from the developer less than five years ago.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

It matters because plans exist to serve the community as a whole - that can certainly change as communities change, and different needs emerge.

That doesn't mean they're not worth having at all.

And the desires of one business are not the same as the good of an entire community - for example, if a new business opens and draws money from others, it is good for the new business, but not for the old one. And, depending on how it plays out, it may not be good for the community as a whole.

scaramouchepart2 7 years, 4 months ago

The plan that everyone is yammering about is in the process of being built. It is not old nor fully built out, but is being followed in some accordance of what was approved. So it does matter. A developer does not have complete property rights. Those living in the area have property rights that the city made a promise to and the city accepted they made a promise after forcing unacceptable development in the area. Lawrence and the neighborhoods welcome Lowes, but in the appropriate place where the city has already used tax dollars so Lowes could build in Lawrence.

Kufan57 7 years, 4 months ago

Does anyone know who is doing dirt work for a new business on the northeast end of the property in question?

shadowlady 7 years, 4 months ago

Did you ever stop to think that Lawrence is getting quite a reputation for turning away prospective business's?? I don't know why anyone would want to even try to come to Lawrence anymore. People that live here in Lawrence go to Topeka and Kansas City to get what they want, because Lawrence finds some excuse to keep a business out. And look around, do you see any food buffet restaurants here in Lawrence besides a chinese place?? So again people go out of town to get what they want, and that takes away from the city of Lawrence. The commissioners needs to wise up.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

There is an Indian buffet, and there are several restaurants that offer weekend brunch buffets as well.

Lawrence is not a large city like Kansas City - that's part of why people like to live here.

shadowlady 7 years, 4 months ago

What about american buffets??? Furrs went out of business. How about getting "Golden Coral" or "Ryans" Or "Coyote Canyon"???? Furrs was always busy, had a lot of people going there. Now people go to Topeka to these other places that I mentioned. Lawrence is big enough for these other restaurants. We mostly have food from other country's, we have chinese, vietnamise, Italian, Greek, India, Mexican, if we have room for these types of foods, we have room for american buffets, so other than these, we have IHOP, Perkins, and burgers, and burgers, and burgers, oh yes there is a small american restaurant over off of Haskell, on 19th.

deec 7 years, 4 months ago

They probably went out of business because they weren't making enough money. I guess not enough people liked this type of food...just sayin'

Mike Hatch 7 years, 4 months ago

Furr's was disgusting. Bland bland bland. And didn't you have to pay for everything a la carte? And the whole place smelled like the lining of my grandmother's purse.

They put something on the meat at Golden Corral that makes me run to the bathroom about 2 hours after eating there.

Coyote Canyon (I think they're owned/run by the same people who owned/ran the Sirloin Stockades and also Montana Mikes) isn't bad. If you can go when it's relatively quiet in there.

While I'm ranting...what is it about the interior of Montana Mikes that makes it so LOUD in there? There could be only a couple of tables with people at them and it always seems like there's constant screaming everywhere. Part of it could be their staff shouting and laughing in the kitchen. I just get food to go from there now. The food's good but I can't stand the noise in there.

gatekeeper 7 years, 4 months ago

I made the mistake of eating at a Golden Corral a few months ago. Worst food I've ever had the misfortune to have on my plate. The only thing worth eating was the ice cream.

somebodynew 7 years, 4 months ago

What the people who keep bringing up the WalMart court fight fail to understand is this is different. WalMart was given the OK by one commission, but then a later comission denied them a building permit. THAT is what the fight was over. Here, nobody gave Lowes permission, Lowes was asking to change things and got denied.

scaramouchepart2 7 years, 4 months ago

Actually, Walmart was never given an ok. They tried to get a 200,000 sq ft building and it was turned down and then tried again and turned down again. The fight was about Wal-Mart trying to push in where they were not zoned by lying about what type of business they were. The BZA was developer driven and even they could not fight the facts and said no.

LogicMan 7 years, 4 months ago

Troy-Bilt went bankrupt years ago. MTD (Murray, etc. brands) bought the Troy-Bilt name, etc. MTD's stuff is cheap and prone to problems, so you get what you pay for.

Janet Lowther 7 years, 4 months ago

Throw the bums out!

Some of the zoning nonsense falls amongst the worst atrocities perpetrated by local governments.

(Not to mention I'm tired of having to go all the way to the far side of Topeka to go to Lowes)

deec 7 years, 4 months ago

But you can't drive 2 minutes farther west than 6th and Wakarusa? Heck if you take that far west exit on the way to Topeka, you'll drive right past it!

Sigmund 7 years, 4 months ago

I think Lowe's just got a big gift from the Lawrence City Commission. I know more than a few who would avoid Lowe's or any other retailer with the extra special sales tax. Most contractors prefer Lowe's because of the term's offered on their accounts, at least in the Topeka/KC area. But I don't know a single contractor that would be willing to pay the extra special sales tax on several hundred of thousands of dollars of materials per year. They would just keeping using the Lowe's in KC or Topeka like they do now. I think Lowe's wins on this and should drop it, or find a piece of land not subject to the special taxing district.

jesse499 7 years, 4 months ago

Let me see there's a lack of jobs to be had in Lawrence,homes all over that are not selling, our taxes are going sky high because our tax base is going away so all of us have to make it up. And we turn away a 14M store so we can build more houses not to sell. sounds like another Cracker Barrel sign deal to me.

jnixon 7 years, 4 months ago

Wow...very disappointed. That's all.

pizzapete 7 years, 4 months ago

“I’m OK with changing a plan if it makes sense to do so,” Johnson said. “You can find yourself in a time where the decisions made back then don’t make sense now because the world has changed.” The world has changed that much in 2 years?

Flap Doodle 7 years, 4 months ago

“NEW YORK (Reuters) - Private employers unexpectedly cut 39,000 jobs in September after an upwardly revised gain of 10,000 in August, a report by a payrolls processor showed on Wednesday. The August figure was originally reported as a loss of 10,000. The median of estimates from 38 economists surveyed by Reuters for the ADP Employer Services report, jointly developed with Macroeconomic Advisers LLC, was for a rise of 24,000 private-sector jobs in September. The ADP figures come ahead of the government's much more comprehensive labor market report on Friday, which includes both public and private sector employment. That report is expected to show overall nonfarm payrolls were unchanged in September, based on a Reuters poll of analysts, but a rise in private payrolls of 75,000. Economists often refer to the ADP report to fine-tune their expectations for the payrolls numbers, though it is not always accurate in predicting the outcome.”

xclusive85 7 years, 4 months ago

There are a few things that seem to have been overlooked by posters here:

1) A business that employes many Lawrence citizens has a partnership with Lowes to sell their product. This partnership has been under strain many times and Lowes facing opposition to building in Lawrence increases that strain. With first hand knowledge of that situation, this could be one factor that could cause Lowes to terminate their partnership with Amarr. So we would not have the Lowes jobs, or the jobs sustained by the partnership between Lowes and Amarr.

2) Nothing built close to the site was included in the plans for a new urbanism. How did the other businesses get built? What progress is being made on the new urbanism project? I haven't seen one step taken to actually making that plan a reality.

3) The Lawrence housing market is already saturated. We have more apartments and houses for rent than we have people to rent them. Why build more housing here?

mr_right_wing 7 years, 4 months ago

The folks at Home Depot are overjoyed. Corporate probably sent them a bottle of Champagne.

TopJayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Lowes is ol' Beelzibub himself huh? Lawrence does not need jobs, or tax money.
As long as you have KC and Topeka to take care of you, you guys can whine and criticize all you want to. Your big brothers and Masters will take care of the sniveling progressives in Lawrence as usual. So whine on brothers and sisters. No one is really listening.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 4 months ago

The local real estate/development community is always putting the fear factor on the table.

Lowe's may not come to Lawrence for years - SO WHAT!!!! People have been into home improvement for 80 years long before the big box stores were around.

WE have: Home Depot - Taxpayers were forced to spend more than $2 million in street re-design. How many more millions does anyone want to spend?

MC Cray Lumber - a friendly place to shop. 1516 W 6th St

Cottins and other Hardware stores.

Go shop at all of the above and create new jobs,more tax revenue and economic growth. That's all it takes.

Lowe's is not necessary. AND with all of the anti tax talk now they are okay with a special sales tax that would help Lowe's pay off this project then pocket that sales tax as profit till death do us part.

Why do so many want to pay an extra sales tax to bail out a developement group that made a bad business decision?

Has the local commercial real estate industry lost all touch with reality? I say absolutely. These people believe it is up to the taxpayers to guarantee the local developer/real estate industry a profit on their risky speculation. I say NO WAY JOSE' These people and our local Chamber of Commerce are all about wreckanomics.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 4 months ago

"David Cay Johnston then boggled the crowd with a blunt assertion: "We pay billions of dollars in taxes that never get to the government." Much of the sales tax we pay at big box stores and shopping centers is diverted to the large companies that own the stores. It's just one of the many swindles these chains have learned to perpetrate against city and county governments. This is so effective that the Cabela family, which owns a chain of big-box sporting goods stores, receives 137% of its profits from taxpayer subsidies. If they couldn't work this scam, they wouldn't be in business at all." ====================================== Sprawl Costs all of US ======================================

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

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