Archive for Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Comfort Inn slated for open ground near Hallmark, more apartments coming to west Lawrence

A new hotel is in the works for northern Lawrence. The hotel will be located near Interstate 70 and the Holidome convention center.

September 15, 2010


A Comfort Inn is slated to come to Lawrence.

Local architect Paul Werner has filed a site plan for a 67-room hotel to be built at 151 McDonald Drive, which is vacant ground adjacent to the Hallmark Cards production plant. The property is owned by members of the Fritzel family, which has ownership stakes in the Eldridge Hotel and The Oread, but Werner said the hotel is not being developed by the Fritzels.

Instead, it is being sold to a Comfort Inn franchisee.

The site plan does include space for two other limited industrial buildings, which could be built in the future. Werner said no tenants have been identified for those buildings. They would allow a mix of light industrial type of uses, but the property is not zoned to allow for traditional retail development.

In other development news:

• A $1 million expansion of the Northwind Apartments, 200 N. Michigan St., is in the works. A site plan to add 16 one-bedroom apartments to the complex has been filed at City Hall.

• Developers are seeking to rezone property along Clinton Parkway to expand an existing apartment complex. The owners of Remington Square Apartments, 4100 W. 24th Place, have filed plans to rezone 15 acres of property to allow for a greater density of apartments.

The filing doesn’t state how many additional units the complex wants to build. The expansion would be just east of the existing complex. The rezoning will require both Planning Commission and City Commission approval.

The project is tentatively scheduled to go before the Planning Commission in October.

• Nearby, at 2451 Crossgate, a preliminary development plan has been filed to build 46-one bedroom apartments on about 4.6 acres of property. The property is just north of the Wyndam Place retirement center, but does not go all the way to the corner of Clinton Parkway and Crossgate.

The preliminary development plan will need both Planning Commission and City Commission approval. It is scheduled to go before planning commissioners in November.


1arrowheaddrive 7 years, 3 months ago

If Lawrence is not growing, building additional apartments is a horrible idea. It will only cause areas of town with a high rates of rentals to deteriorate faster.

nobody1793 7 years, 3 months ago

More west lawrence apartments? They've already got some clown standing on clinton parkway in a cape with an accordion trying to drum up business for the empty apartments they already have.

puddleglum 7 years, 3 months ago

isn't that awesome? I wonder how the people living at alvamar feel about rolling up to that intersection every morning watching a 'rent-a-clown' hop up and down in their neighborhood?

stopit 7 years, 3 months ago

I can't believe it. Tear down the homes and turn Lawrence to apartments. When does building more apartments stop? Vacancies in apartments are high why allow more to be built? I thought the city previously rejected the expansion of Remington Square Apartments.

GardenMomma 7 years, 3 months ago

I would urge the commissioners to look at how many vacant apartments there are sitting around Lawrence. Please stop the building of multi-family homes and apartments!!!

Bella Sera sits half empty

GardenMomma 7 years, 3 months ago

Whoops! Didn't mean for that comment about Bella Sera just yet. But my point is, Bella Sera, the complex at 31st and Oushdal, and others are more vacant than occupied. Why?

Why keep building? Please make it stop.

Want to attract people to Lawrence? Give them jobs, give them decent schools, give them places to play, give them something other than cheaply made housing.

GardenMomma 7 years, 3 months ago

I know they are the ritzy ones, but they are not full yet and they've been there for a while.

My point is that there are all sorts of apartment rentals sitting vacant and even expensive condos for sale aren't selling very fast. Why on earth do people think building MORE apartments is a good idea?!

Zachary Stoltenberg 7 years, 3 months ago

You also have to BUY them, not RENT them... open mouth, insert foot.

whats_going_on 7 years, 3 months ago

Bella Sera isn't exactly an affordable place for most, and I believe you have to buy those.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

Roof tops look good to developers bottom line. Empty roof tops are unfriendly to taxpayers.

More empty light industrial roof tops are unfriendly to taxpayers.

Flooded markets are unfriendly to business across the board.

The motel/hotel business is flooding quite nicely.

It appears as though there is a rush to approve so much more than Lawrence can support before the next election.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 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

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

Basic findings:

  1. Lawrence is overbuilt in housing: Homes were built faster than popualtion growth supporting these homes. Excessive subdivisions caused an outmigration from older neighborhoods causing a severe loss of value, a loss of dwelling units, and a variety of other problems such as school closings.

  2. Lawerence is overbuilt in retail: Stores were built faster than retail spending growth supporting these stores. This excessive growth has hurt the public and private investment in downtown redevelopment (e.g.: the empty $8 million parking garage, the empty Hobbs-Taylor space, etc.) and has caused deterioration and blight in existing shopping centers (e.g.: Tanger Mall, Food-for-Less, etc.)

  3. Douglas County is overbuilt in manufacturing and warehousing; employment in these sectors is declining, not growing. Yet, the Chamber calls for more and more space in the false belief that more supply creates more demand.

  4. Office space in Douglas County is relatively well balanced, but the market for office space is severely crippled by the excessive supply of unused retail space which is competing for office tenants.

Basic strategy:

Lawrence should adopt a policy of "cooling off" the pace of development. Note: This is not a moratoriam; it is a consicous effort to redirect growth to existing neighborhoods and districts where it can be beneficial.

Housing: The city should stop approving new subdivisions until the existing supply of surplus homes is eliminated. It should direct housing investment back into older neighborhoods so as to preserve and protect the existing public and private investment there.

Commercial space: The city should stop approving plans for new commercial space until the existing surplus is eliminated. It should direct investment into the preseration of the downtown and other existing commercial districts so as to preserve and protect the existing publid and private investment there.

Kirk McClure – Lawrence,Kansas

Education Ph. D., City Planning, University of California, Berkeley, Department of City and Regional Planning, 1985. Concentrations in Housing Economics and Public Finance.

Master in City Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, 1978. Specialization in Housing Policy Analysis.

Bachelor of Arts, University of Kansas, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 1974. Special Major in Urban Studies.

Bachelor of Architecture, Graduated With Distinction University of Kansas, School of Architecture and Urban Design, 1973.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 3 months ago

Yawn. Cut and paste.

Someone should file a KORA request on the professor's computer to find out how much of our tax dollars he is spending writing on inherently political topics. I'm pretty sure using government property for political purposes violates Kansas law. Perhaps Merrill can cut and paste that as well since he's so interested in taxes.

CreatureComforts 7 years, 3 months ago

PHEW! I thought I was the only one who just scrolled down quickly after seeing his name...

whats_going_on 7 years, 3 months ago

even if he's cutting and pasting, at least he's adding something to the convo, if people would actually read it. He's not just bashing other people for saying things (ahem) and disagreeing with him. Lay off.

kernal 7 years, 3 months ago

The lenders who fund these projects should know if an area is overbuilt or if the prevailing vacancy rates can support new apartments.

alm77 7 years, 3 months ago

Why would apartment complexes expand if they are so "empty"? My guess is that they wouldn't and therefore that they aren't. But what do I know.

Bassetlover 7 years, 3 months ago

Don't think we need another hotel either. The average occupancy rate for all Lawrence hotels is not that high except for game/graduation weekends. On an average evening, there are more vacant hotel rooms than occupied rooms. This makes no sense.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 3 months ago

Could you cite information regarding local occupancy rates vs. ideal occupancy rates?

puddleglum 7 years, 3 months ago

wouldn't that require cut and paste?

are you brave enough for that?

BigPrune 7 years, 3 months ago

Apartments provide an essential ingredient to a "smart growth" community - congested living. It is the commie way. Surely the detractors of any growth whatsoever on this website will agree.

...and Merrill, the retail vacancies were caused by the City restrictions your "progressive" commission passed. The good professor (that you love to cut and paste), surely by now, would have to concur. Give those guys an "F."

pizzapete 7 years, 3 months ago

New apartments? How am I going to sell my house if people have all these options? Can I complain to the city about this new competition? What about all the homeless and thieves these new apartments are sure to bring?

whats_going_on 7 years, 3 months ago

umm...because if people want to buy, they'll buy. Usually, if they can afford it and their credit is good, they'll buy. It's just common sense.

And how do you get homeless people and thieves from new apartments being built? The first one definitely doesn't make sense (seeing as they are HOMEless, and thieves? I don't know.

LivedinLawrence4Life 7 years, 3 months ago

Let them build the hotel and apartments and pay property taxes on them whether they sit vacant or not. That builds up the commercial tax base and takes pressure off of the proposed increased tax rate on our personal homes. I would rather let these builders and developers pay more taxes than my taxes going up on my house. From what I have observed from builders is that they really only want to build more units when they have a high occupancy rate and cash flow on their existing units. Let the free market decide whether or not to choose their units over the existing housing available. I have noticed that those properties that have not cleaned up the yard and fixed up the building don't seem to be filling up but those that have done the improvements are doing just fine.

gatekeeper 7 years, 3 months ago

We have a winner!!!! You hit the nail on the head!

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

What makes anyone believe that property owners pay their personal property taxes on vacant properties in Lawrence,Kansas?

How in the world can any small community believe that new housing can be a measure of economic growth with so much unemployment and 7-8 million homes on the market? What I read is suggesting that workers connected to this industry will need to find new skills. "Boom Town" economics is dead.

Economists are saying the USA is needing innovation to bring an economy back which places new residential construction as a measure way down on the list. New residential and quarterly economic reports have become dinosaurs as a result of this most recent recession. It is also being noted that the USA never fully recovered from the 1981-1982 recession due in large part to so many once solid employment bases moving abroad to China. India is becoming the home to more and more USA white collar jobs.

For every job application there are at least 6 applicants. The shop till you drop industry requires strong employment.

In essence the USA needs to get on with a new industry. In the 1980's Corp america began moving abroad and never looked back. Leaving millions of workers that made it what it was behind. How can anyone cheer corp america on?

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 3 months ago

Merrill, this is the second time (at least) that you have posted regarding developers not paying property taxes. Have you checked the website I suggested? I would assume with your near OCD level obsession with this topic that you have. Did you, for example, notice that the empty temple building generated approximately $11k in property taxes (paid) in comparison to the much lower tax bills of residences east of Haskell? Surely you don't intentionally post incorrect or incomplete information repeatedly...

justforfun 7 years, 3 months ago

WHAT!!!!!!!!!! NOBODY IS BLAMING COMPTON!!!!!!!!!! You guys are laughable! Hurry someone find out who owns the land and we can rip them a new hole....

RoeDapple 7 years, 3 months ago

Fritzel owns the land but is dumping . . er, selling it to Comfort Inns

David Roberts 7 years, 3 months ago

I notice that all of the proposed apartment developments involve one bedroom units. Perhaps this is a result of our current economic state. If single family units are open only to those who qualify for loans, and rentals in general are too expensive--especially two and three bedroom units--then it makes sense that there would be a need for inexpensive compact housing.

This recession has revived the capsule hotel in Japan.

bopro 7 years, 3 months ago

We have overbuilt apartments in this City I think most would agree. So why not concentrate on Jobs that would last more than a few Months. Lets find a way to invite potential Business to our City that could bring in long term employment for People who will in turn (buy homes and spend money) in Lawrence. Is it not time we planned for the growth of a City that cares about the locals.

no_thanks 7 years, 3 months ago

You mean like Lowes or retaining Berry Plastics proposed warehouse?

Kontum1972 7 years, 3 months ago

the Fritzels are dumping this problem on the fill their pockets....with millions..and they wonder whats wrong with america......folks its just plain,,,,,GREED!


slowplay 7 years, 3 months ago

Why should we care? I would assume that each developer has done their economic feasibility studies and have come to the conclusion that their project(s) will be profitable.

slowplay 7 years, 3 months ago

If you are talking about the request for rezoning, then by all means express your concerns to the city, but most of the comments here are complaining about the "need " for more apartment complexes.

inklines 7 years, 3 months ago

Maybe the post office could build a satellite station here.

David Albertson 7 years, 3 months ago

I didn't realize LJWorld had so many economists posting in the forum.

9070811 7 years, 3 months ago

I think the Comfort Inn is a great idea! Especially right off the turnpike. Lawrence has been known to have extremely limited hotel occupancy during certain University events and Lawrence events.

Apartments, however, no flippin way. WTH. I don't even know what to say because it is such a stupid idea.

Danimal 7 years, 3 months ago

I think the Comfort Inn is a great idea as well. There is definitely a need for more affordable lodging in Lawrence.

Expanding the apartment complexes seems dumb to me. KU's enrollment is actually shrinking, and the city isn't growing that quickly. Maybe the developers can get great deals on labor and materials during the recession and save enough it won't matter if they sit vacant for a while? My biggest concern is that Clinton Parkway is going to be lined with these high-density apartment complexes and become a congested nightmare.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

Since 1980 beginning with Reagan/Bush republicans have brought on recessions galore and established a significant pattern of destroying:

  1. Savings and Loan Institutions
  2. Financial Insurance giants such as AIG
  3. banks such as Citigroup and Bank of America
  4. tons of retirement plans as a result of all the above

First it was Reagan/Bush then it was Bush/Cheney

As a result: 1. thousands perhaps millions of retired were tossed back into the job market to supplement their Social Security Insurance 2. Approximately 23 million jobs have left the USA 3. Medicare has become a wonderful and thankful insurance program 4. Credit card debt went beyond the sky 5. our housing market now has 7-8 million homes on the market =============================== 6. new home construction is essentially no longer a source for long term employment =============================== 7. a wide variety of retirement plans are either dead or still taking serious hits

AND fraud aka white collar crime is looked upon as gainful white collar employment instead of as a source for prison terms. As a result of fraud consumers are finding themselves owing more on home mortgages than today's market value.

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