Archive for Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Planning group lauds city’s downtown

Downtown Lawrence merchants are hatching a plan to help rid Massachusetts Street of panhandlers. A new program will hand out educational resources listing social service agencies to downtown visitors, designed to discourage them from giving out money.

Downtown Lawrence merchants are hatching a plan to help rid Massachusetts Street of panhandlers. A new program will hand out educational resources listing social service agencies to downtown visitors, designed to discourage them from giving out money.

October 13, 2010


From its historic haunts to the honk for hemp guy, Massachusetts Street is just right, according to the country’s largest group of planners.

Downtown street one of best in country

Massachusetts Street was named one of the top streets in the country by a national planning association. The designation came as no surprise to a number of residents. Enlarge video

The American Planning Association today named Massachusetts Street as one of the 10 best streets in the nation for 2010.

City leaders said the designation confirms what they’ve been pretty certain of: Downtown Lawrence is on the right path.

“I’ve always said Massachusetts Street is the greatest street in America, but part of that is because it has my business on it and a lot of friends,” said Mayor Mike Amyx, who owns a downtown barber shop. “It really is our town square. It represents our community and what it believes.”

The planning association highlighted the street’s historic architecture and art, but also made special mention of political efforts to ensure that downtown has remained vibrant.

“An unsuccessful court challenge in the 1980s by developers wishing to build nearby retail malls confirmed the importance comprehensive plans play in helping protect established downtowns and their businesses,” said Paul Farmer, chief executive of APA.

Scott McCullough, Lawrence’s planning director, said the community has taken important actions more recently too, especially downtown design guidelines and historic district designations that have set the tone for new downtown development.

“I think one of the most important aspects to keeping a downtown healthy is the community and political will to put a lot of effort into it,” McCullough said. “I think people sometimes think downtown happens by accident. It doesn’t.”

Lawrence is joined on the list of the Top 10 Great Streets for 2010 by: Fifth Avenue in San Diego; Wydown Boulevard in Clayton, Mo.; Broadway Street in Red Lodge, Mont.; Spring Street in Eureka Springs, Ark.; Washington Street in Hoboken, N.J.; Bank Street in Wallace, Idaho; Middle Street in New Bern, N.C.; Washington Street in Middleburg, Va.; and Liberty Street in Franklin, Penn.

Jane Pennington, director of Downtown Lawrence Inc., said the designation is the type of recognition that can help in marketing efforts. APA has only been naming “great streets” since 2007, meaning that only 39 other streets in the country can claim the title.

“This designation reinforces what we try to highlight to visitors and residents,” Pennington said. “Coming to Massachusetts Street is like stepping back in time in a lot of ways. Just the whole atmosphere is warm and inviting. It is very historic, and there’s a lot of character.”

Amyx said the designation also sends a good message to Lawrence residents.

“You look at what we have today with downtown, I think one thing you can definitely say is that the decisions this community made in the past were right,” Amyx said.

The president of the APA, Bruce Knight, will be in Lawrence at 6 p.m. Oct. 29 to make formal presentation of the award. The presentation will be part of downtown’s Final Fridays art event.


DRsmith 7 years, 5 months ago

I especially like the panhandling bums and parking a mile away from my destination. That is what does it for me. Not sure about this planning group.

gorilla10 7 years, 5 months ago

every city has bums and parking far away from your destination is a good thing. That means its crowded!!! Stupid response

parrothead8 7 years, 5 months ago

Why do you park a mile away from your destination? Doesn't that mean, if you want to go to, say, Sunflower Outdoor, that yo are parking all the way down by 19th Street? You must be really bad at looking for parking spots. I have never, ever had to park more than two blocks from where I wanted to go in downtown Lawrence, even during the Sidewalk Sale.

somedude20 7 years, 5 months ago

if you happen to be a person of size then the mile long walk will help lead you to the path of healthiness

jfcm77 7 years, 5 months ago

"a person of size". That made me laugh out loud.

deec 7 years, 5 months ago

Both Iowa and Haskell are a mile away from Massachusetts.

Resident10 7 years, 5 months ago

We live in a great city. Sorry you are so bummed about that.

spiderd 7 years, 5 months ago

I love when one of the trolls gets in real early with an especially asinine comment that everyone will see. It helps less frequent readers know which commenters to ignore.

MandaC 7 years, 5 months ago

Oh please, don't even start with the sales tax and smell thing. I moved from Kansas to NYC. Do you know what the sales tax is here? 8.8%. Ever been on the subway or the bus here? You learn to ignore body odor really fast. And at least Lawrence has a decent bus system; Wichita could learn a thing or ten.

alfie 7 years, 5 months ago

You people would complain even when you look in your mirror. So so sad. Try to have a nice day

John Kyle 7 years, 5 months ago

Ain't it the truth? I can't even imagine being that negative that early in the morning.

bender 7 years, 5 months ago

They'd complain about the flaws in the mirror, because they are perfect in every way.

Sherry Warren 7 years, 5 months ago

The trolls woke up early today, when clip clop clip came the APA over the trolls' private bridge where they breed discord and furious resentment for our town's award.

slowplay 7 years, 5 months ago

Well, the first 2 idiots have responded - Drsmith & healtcaremoocher - Let's see if any more from that group of morons post as well.

On topic. I've only been to one other street on that list, Fifth Ave. in San Diego. It's not as quaint and cozy as Mass St. and it's a part of the Gaslight District so it doesn't stand out on its own.

CreatureComforts 7 years, 5 months ago

Why are they idiots simply for voicing their opinions? Whether people agree or disagree, that is their right...

slowplay 7 years, 5 months ago

Did you read their posts? These are not opinions. They are childish, unintelligent, moronic comments. Nothing more or less. Almost all of the stuff they post is pure crap. But, what truly makes them idiots is that they scorn all things associated with Lawrence but continue to live here.

alfie 7 years, 5 months ago

Call it just an observation, it's not my mirror. Have a nice day

Kontum1972 7 years, 5 months ago

so smith and moocher ..what makes u stay here..? mb u need to move to tongie....i am sure you would fit right in.

grimpeur 7 years, 5 months ago

In addition to the plentiful angle parking and the many surface lots within a block of Mass, there are 500 parking spaces in a garage within 3 blocks of every retail door between 6th and 11th.

And it's still too far for some people. That, my friends, is what's wrong with our nation.

fyrfighter 7 years, 5 months ago

let's see. days after the city turns down another major new business from coming to town, this small amount of news comes out. what timing! What a crock! Take a real close look at the downtown area. No real major retailers left. Shops opening and closing every month. Bars and eateries everywhere. And this is a top 10 street? Good Lord, now I know America is really in trouble.

Armen Kurdian 7 years, 5 months ago

Smith & Healthcare ain't got nothin' on me! Watch this!!

And downtown SUCKS & Lawrence SUCKS & KU SUCKS & parking SUCKS & sucky sucky suck suck sucker sucking suckity-suck!

Look at me! Look at me! I am Draculaaaaaahhhh........

CHKNLTL 7 years, 5 months ago

Of course the government wants to protects their own little precious businesses! Let's not forget that many ordinances in this town regarding how a business should look on the outside are geared strictly towards the appearance of downtown and at the same time hamper the ability of any retail establishment anywhere else in the city to act as a competitive force against the mighty Downtown Lawrence, Inc. If this is one of the top ten streets, i hope it's not in the top 9.

blindrabbit 7 years, 5 months ago

This designation may give impetus to getting the butts, trash and gum off the sidewalks. Also, some of the eateries downtown need to do a better job of keeping their properties cleaned-up; i.e. Jefferson's. I like the place other than the filthy front windows!! Lots of improvement since Wildgen departed.

volunteer 7 years, 5 months ago

Yes, it is a terrific downtown! One misses the convenience of a Round Corner Drug when one needs floss after a noon meal of barbecue...but now my favorite barbecue place is gone and that floss did cost five bucks when purchased on Mass Street.

Tomorrow afternoon should be a terific day for the pre-game walk up and down Mass. The game-day energy is special.

The beggars have not been approaching me lately. Am I just fortunate or did the city change some policy?

Alceste 7 years, 5 months ago

What a laugh!

That is all propaganda nonsense from the self serving back slapping going on and being led by McCullough and company. Simply read the "blurb" about Lawrence in the above link and it's easy to see that the writing was provided to this "not for profit" American Planning Association relative to some silly "contest" (no doubt) being run.

I will wager City monies are used so that "planning staff" can all be happy members of this APA? How many City Staff will be going to the APA party in Chicago next City expense? (I can see giving staff paid administrative leave to attend a "conference"....but most certainly those trips should be funded by the individual and not by the employer). What about those "discounted" rooms in New Orleans..... let's not leave out the Kansas APA chapter's 2010 Kansas Planning Conference/Meeting in Manhattan, Kansas which took place on October 7& in last week.....were City monies used to fund this little outing?

What a motley crew:

This "award" is meaningless; hollow; and store bought. No more and no less.

quackhead 7 years, 5 months ago

Have you ever been to an APA function? From reading your comment it is clear you have not.

Lindsey Buscher 7 years, 5 months ago

Planners are taxpayers too. City's got to be planned. Somebody got to do it. Be thankful that your Lawrence City planners are not incompetent unlike certain posters on this board.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 5 months ago

Notice that it is an award from people who do "planning" award and not an award from people who own businesses or create wealth. No wonder Lawrence did well.

Lindsey Buscher 7 years, 5 months ago

Not all businesses and organizations exist to "create wealth".

Mass St did well because it is one of the top cultural, social, and economic resources in the entire country. Please note the lack of chain store domination, and how many local businesses thrive, a testament to America's entrepreneurial and innovative spirit.

Is it possible that there are other sources of wealth other than money?

laika 7 years, 5 months ago

Isn´t there a profitable balance to be found between planning and business concerns? I would argue that downtown is just such an example: prudent planning creating a livable space, while still allowing business to flourish. Or is all ¨planning¨ inherently bad gl0ck0wn3r?

John Hamm 7 years, 5 months ago

It really needs a few more bars and restaurants......

Danimal 7 years, 5 months ago

Wooo! Go Mass Street! There's always room for improvement, but I think we can all agree that Mass is pretty awesome, and probably the best single street you'll find in any American city of less than 200,000 people.

Clark Coan 7 years, 5 months ago

It is one of greatest 39 streets in America because (1) activists stopped a cornfield mall (think of Topeka's downtown); (2) activists stopped a downtown mall in the 600 block of Mass (think Manhattan); and, (3) "Beautiful" Buford Watson, former city manager, went to Europe and saw what they were doing to make business districts vibrant.

Armored_One 7 years, 5 months ago

Mass Street is not all that and a bottle of ketchup, but it's also not the most abhorrent thing in the universe, either.

Yes, there are still a number of locally owned businesses along Mass Street, but a disturbing percentage of them are either flat out bars, or eateries with alcohol sales.

That they have managed to preserve the architecture of the entire area is no small accomplishment, especially in the day and age of newer and shinier. I enjoy the varied textures and appearance of hte buildings downtown, but you have to look at it realistically also.

None of the 'art', and I use that term with my tongue almost sticking through my cheek, is worth much more than the recycled prices of the materials. Honestly, you can make that giant tower thing with the text chat symbols with a jigsaw, a palm sander and an arc welder. There is no real art there. The sculpture at the renovated train station in North Lawrence is a piece of actual art.

None of the trees downtown will ever reach full maturity, either because the city mutilates them when pruning or the enibriated think they need to revert to a more primative, tree-swinging evolutionary note and damage them.

As much as I use Mass Street for transportation purposes, I'd personally like to see it shut to traffic fully and completely. Rip up the street and turnt he center of it into a lounging park style appearance with a higher police presence, since patrol cars wouldn't have access either.

I know emergency vehicles will need access, but beyond that, turn it into a glorified park with businesses nearby like Austin's Riverwalk or Old Market in Omaha. The Old Market would be a slightly better example to follow, though, mainly due to similarities in the architecture and what not.

Invest in some actual artwork, not burned out barn doors with carriage bolts stuck through them, or metal grating painted red, turned into a bull's eye and filled with river rocks.

Make it truly family friendly, and Lawrence will definately benefit. I look at it as one of those all you can do is move up scenarios, but I have neither influence or power/money, so it most likely doesn't matter what I think...

grimpeur 7 years, 5 months ago

Charleston, VA. Iowa City, IA. Boulder, CO. All successful examples of small cities with downtown ped malls.

I can hear the whining now: "But St. Charles, MO, failed with a ped mall!" That's because they're a backward, myopic, stagnant bunch of isolationist cretins who long ago decided that if they can't drive, they don't go. They don't want transit (because the metro brings dark-skinned folks to town to steal everyone's TVs), they don't want bikes (because then drivers have to actually touch the brake pedal every once in a while and so what if there's an extra parking space at the destination), but they damn sure want someone to provide streets across the river into St. Louis County and into the western part of their county.

Could work here if we could escape the shackles of car-junkiehood and make it family- and people-friendly instead of car-pandery.

tomatogrower 7 years, 5 months ago

There aren't too many downtowns that have cars and people everywhere during the day and during the evening. Ever see downtown Topeka in the evening? Dead. And you can't stroll along all the crud in there retail areas. You have to drive in your car. And how far do you have to walk when you have to park in one of their mega parking lots? Yeah. Lawrence. I love the downtown. They only thing I would change would be inexpensive rent for more local businesses.

Phil Minkin 7 years, 5 months ago

I wonder how many of the people basking in the award were the same ones pushing the JVJ/Shwada downtown mall that would have destroyed the charm and character of our vibrant downtown. Amyx and the chamber come to mind.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years, 5 months ago

I do not go downtown. I shop on south Iowa because the businesses I wish to patronize are on south Iowa street. I do not have any problem with downtown except that there are no businesses that I wish to patronize. So I do not shop downtown. I do not care what any out-of-town survey thinks, I would probably not shop in any of the other "premier towns" that these "think tank" groups seem to be so taken with, either. I simply do not want to buy anything that the downstores have marked up to earn enough profit to pay the city's taxes. So I do not shop downtown. Period.

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

You're free to do as you wish.

But do you think the businesses you patronize don't somehow pay "the city's taxes"?

CeeDub 7 years, 5 months ago

@ Quivira Trail: I used to live in Manhattan for 23 years and was there for the building of the mall. They only took out one block for the mall, the majority of those buildings were empty. Jack's Body Shop used to stand where Dillard's is now, he retired and sold to Jon Murdock Chevrolet who is now on Hwy. 24.

The whole design of the Town Center Mall was to add to downtown, and not detract from it. That is why the main entrance opens up onto Poyntz, and has the large fountain; and why there is a limited number of stores. If they had wanted to destroy downtown, a mall would have been built on the west side. The design of the mall also implemented the Kansas architecture. I was trying to remember all of the different items, and could not find a link. The only one I can definitely remember is the roof line above the food court resembles so many rural buildings.

Since the mall opened in Oct. of 1987, downtown Manhattan and its surroundings have once again become a vibrant area for shopping and entertainment.

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