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Archive for Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dining, drinking — and now shopping — add to downtown Lawrence sidewalk issue

More discussion is needed before commissioners approve outdoor drinking spaces for downtown bars.

September 22, 2010

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First there was sidewalk dining in downtown Lawrence.

Then it was sidewalk drinking.

Anybody up for sidewalk shopping?

City commissioners on Tuesday night found themselves debating that question as they considered making yet another change in how downtown businesses can use the public sidewalks.

At their weekly meeting, commissioners originally were asked to remove a city regulation that prohibits downtown bars that have a deck or patio from also having a sidewalk hospitality area.

But as commissioners were debating that issue, a representative from Downtown Lawrence Inc. threw in a twist.

“If every bar and restaurant can have an outside area on the sidewalk, I think you’re soon going to have merchants asking why stores can’t have outside retailing,” Peter Zacharias, a board member for Downtown Lawrence Inc., told commissioners. “It is a tricky issue, but I think it is one you will have to deal with.”

Commissioners ended up taking no action on any of the sidewalk issues, but three commissioners did say the idea of sidewalk retailing was intriguing.

“Personally, I think if a retailer wants to roll out some stock and get a permit for that, I don’t have a problem with it as long as it is controlled,” Commissioner Mike Dever said. “It is a way to invite people into a store.”

Commissioners Aron Cromwell and Lance Johnson also were interested.

“For downtown to create vibrancy, it is about people,” Johnson said. “Part of that is having people outside and being seen by other people. If there are people out there who want to come forward, I would like the ability to explore it.”

Mayor Mike Amyx and Commissioner Rob Chestnut, though, expressed concerns. Amyx said he’s concerned about businesses of any kind taking up space that should be available for pedestrians.

“We want downtown to be successful and vibrant and to attract a lot of people, but you have to have places for people to park and places for people to walk,” Amyx said.

Commissioners said they would like to have discussions with downtown leaders and business owners about sidewalk issues before taking any action.

In other City Hall news, commissioners:

• Unanimously approved the Oread Neighborhood Plan after more than a year’s worth of debate. The plan provides general guidelines on how the neighborhood — which is between KU and downtown — should develop in the future.

Among the major recommendations is that the neighborhood be broken into at least five zones and that each zone be given a different density designation and design guidelines. The details for each zone still must be developed and presented to city commissioners for future approval.

But Planning Director Scott McCullough said the new regulations likely wouldn’t require existing properties to change, but rather would apply to redevelopment projects.

• Approved a new mixed-use zoning designation for the area immediately surrounding The Hawk and The Wheel, two college bars near 14th and Ohio streets. The mixed-use zoning would allow for a large variety of retail and residential uses. But owners of the two bars said they have no immediate plans to redevelop the property. The zoning change gives the two bars the legal right to rebuild the businesses if they were destroyed. The previous multi-family zoning on the site made the businesses legal, nonconforming uses that were not eligible to be rebuilt.

• Confirmed the appointment of former City Manager Mike Wildgen to an unpaid position on the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees.

Comments

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

Why not sidewalk shopping?

Why not have more than one advertised sidewalk sale? Schedule them according to when schools are in session and not on any holiday week-end.

Add to the mix OUR local farmers and artists in the middle of Mass Street. Bring on the music.

Stuart Evans 4 years, 3 months ago

the way these commissions work around here, you'd think they were inventing the wheel for the first time. They are just so amazed with their grand idea of selling something on the sidewalk.

tkmoore 4 years, 3 months ago

Don't forget you have to have space to ride a bikecycle, hey i have a idea don't let cars on mass street that will fix all the problems make people walk from they homes!!!!!!!!1

mysterion 4 years, 3 months ago

Pretty soon, there won't be any sidewalk left for pedestrians...

CLARKKENT 4 years, 3 months ago

MYSTERION--IT REALLY DOES NOT MATTER, WITH THE NEW, ALLMOST 9% SALES TAX, DON'T SHOP LAWRENCE MUCH ANYWAY.

dragonwagon2 4 years, 3 months ago

I think we should start planning now how to make Mass street into a shopping Mall that doesn't allow cars on the street. We should provide more parking on lateral streets and some conveyance up and down Mass (bus?).

By not allowing parking we could create more room for merchandizing and still have room for people to walk and stroll between businesses. Our downtown is lively now, but we could attract even more shoppers with a plan that really values the experience.

Bob Forer 4 years, 3 months ago

Bad idea. The mid-sixties urban renewal movement created down town shopping malls in several Kansas cities, including Kansas City, Kansas, Parsons and Coffeyville. They were all disasters and just about killed retail in those cities, and were all eventually returned to their conventional format.

Bob Forer 4 years, 3 months ago

Bad idea. The mid-sixties urban renewal movement created down town shopping malls in several Kansas cities, including Kansas City, Kansas, Parsons and Coffeyville. They were all disasters and just about killed retail in those cities, and were all eventually returned to their conventional format.

Bob Forer 4 years, 3 months ago

Bad idea. The mid-sixties urban renewal movement created down town shopping malls in several Kansas cities, including Kansas City, Kansas, Parsons and Coffeyville. They were all disasters and just about killed retail in those cities, and were all eventually returned to their conventional format.

Bob Forer 4 years, 3 months ago

Bad idea. The mid-sixties urban renewal movement created down town shopping malls in several Kansas cities, including Kansas City, Kansas, Parsons and Coffeyville. They were all disasters and just about killed retail in those cities, and were all eventually returned to their conventional format.

Bob Forer 4 years, 3 months ago

Bad idea. The mid-sixties urban renewal movement created down town shopping malls in several Kansas cities, including Kansas City, Kansas, Parsons and Coffeyville. They were all disasters and just about killed retail in those cities, and were all eventually returned to their conventional format.

Bob Forer 4 years, 3 months ago

Bad idea. The mid-sixties urban renewal movement created down town shopping malls in several Kansas cities, including Kansas City, Kansas, Parsons and Coffeyville. They were all disasters and just about killed retail in those cities, and were all eventually returned to their conventional format.

Bob Forer 4 years, 3 months ago

Bad idea. The mid-sixties urban renewal movement created down town shopping malls in several Kansas cities, including Kansas City, Kansas, Parsons and Coffeyville. They were all disasters and just about killed retail in those cities, and were all eventually returned to their conventional format.

John Hamm 4 years, 3 months ago

Mass 10th to 11th. One store constantly blocks the sidewalk with their wares. Often it's nearly impossible to get past due to display racks and lookers. A little further south a "restaurant" insists on having their outside loudspeakers as loud as they want playing whatever they want. Why? This is getting absurd - now the kommis wants to allow this all the time.

scott3460 4 years, 3 months ago

And the encroachment and free give away of commonly held assets to the business interests continues. I am only surprised that there was not a reference to how giving away the sidewalks would aid in job creation - a platitude which is rapidly replacing "for the children" in annoying ubiquity.

Beavis4you 4 years, 3 months ago

Do you think the Mayor wants his barbershop moved outside?

Adrienne Sanders 4 years, 3 months ago

Why does a business that already has a back patio/seating area also need one in the front?

madameX 4 years, 3 months ago

The ones who do have back patios generally don't need them in the front, but not every business has room in the back.

pizzapete 4 years, 3 months ago

Good question. Does the replay really need to have gutterpunks out front as well as in back?

Kent Shrack 4 years, 3 months ago

I am worried that on a windy day, I might get hair in my food if Floyd ~ er~ I mean Mike is cutting hair out on the sidewalk. Actually, this is tounge-in-cheek as I think the idea is good. I do think that the spaced "rented" to the shop owners should be limited to about 5 feet along the frontage.

tanaumaga 4 years, 3 months ago

why did they allow the noodle shop on the corner of mass and 8th(?) to block almost the entire width of sidewalk on the 8th street corner?

Caesar_Augustus 4 years, 3 months ago

Seriously! Who in their right mind would want to eat outside in a windy, bug infested area with very little "service" as opposed to inside in a bug free, climate controlled environment where there are waitresses and the soda/water area is close by.

bd 4 years, 3 months ago

My problem is getting around all of the bums that panhandle and annoy people!

tkmoore 4 years, 3 months ago

Idea go on line and shop its cheaper and most have no sales tax, that way the panhandlers & commissioners can have it all

FieldTested 4 years, 3 months ago

You forget the following steps in your plan:

Complain about property taxes being raised to cover basic services.

Complain that there are no good jobs/schools in Lawrence.

Or, you could shop in the community where your money funds local services and pays the wages of your friends and neighbors. "Cheap" is not the same as good value.

FarneyMac 4 years, 3 months ago

Way to tackle the tough issues that just about every other city with a vibrant downtown addressed decades ago.

kernal 4 years, 3 months ago

Here's a new plan (or resurrected plan): convert downtown to a pedestrian mall, like the one in Boston. Put up another parking garage where Reuter Organ was and a third one at a "yet to be determined" location. Then we can have our outdoor cafes, outdoor brewskies and wares displayed. For those who are physically unable to do all the walking, there will be the motorized chairs available like the supermarkets have. It's a win win solution.

Kontum1972 4 years, 3 months ago

i am for the close the street idea....last week my son and i went to eat down on Mass street and we sat outside, to eat . i think the city should concentrate on the illegal U-turns that occur just so that driver can pull into an open parking space so they wont have far to walk when they stumble in/out of the bar. I counted 15 U turns just in that hour we sat there.

Jim Williamson 4 years, 3 months ago

I need to know what Doug Compton thinks before I form my opinion.

Kontum1972 4 years, 3 months ago

unPaid!!!!!!!!

hmmmm....is that a tax write off...or possibly maybe made into a paid position further on down the road?

pizzapete 4 years, 3 months ago

“For downtown to create vibrancy, it is about people,” Johnson said. “Part of that is having people outside and being seen by other people" What a crock. Another bad idea coming from our city commision. We do not need more sidewalk seating for bars downtown. Leave the sidewalks for the pedestrians.

Kat Christian 4 years, 3 months ago

Why not just make it a MALL? I hate Malls that is what attracted me to this town the fact that is did NOT have a Mall. Leave it the way it is. I think if Merchants brought their wares out to the sidewalk its going to look cluttered and junky and I can see problems in it with stealing. Leave it the way it is.

irvan moore 4 years, 3 months ago

i want the sidewalks back, i'm tired of walking around sidewalk diners and hearing loud music playing. it's WAS a business district, now it's an entertainment venue.

Jaminrawk 4 years, 3 months ago

It's humorous how behind the times some of our city commissioners are. Go to many other cities with unique shopping districts and you will find quite a few local shops that stick some of their wares outside. I'm sure it will be monitored and controlled pretty well considering the owners wouldn't want to risk shoplifing increases. People complain that Mass Street is becoming "Aggieville" with all of the bars and restaurants, then let's let the retail shops find news ways to bring in customers.

Laura Wilson 4 years, 3 months ago

I find the complaints about how the sidewalks are already crowded highly amusing. Try going to a big city. In London lots of stores have some of their wares outside--from newsagents to vegetable sellers to clothing stores. Also, since the smoking ban, bars and restaurants have outdoor seating, too, and, at least in central London, there is streetfront garbage removal four times a day so there are often bags of trash (no smell because FOUR TIMES a day!) There are thousands of people walking the sidewalks and managing very easily to shop, walk, dine with no major problems. Their sidewalks aren't any wider than ours! You just go around the stuff, say 'excuse me' if you bump someone and go on your way.

jafs 4 years, 3 months ago

Many of us live in a smaller city like Lawrence so that we don't have to deal with the problems of big cities.

Danimal 4 years, 3 months ago

So I guess that's the end of the Oread Neighborhood as we've known it? I'm guessing Oread will be an over-built, even more congested mess within a decade now that it's going to be open for higher density development.

Kontum1972 4 years, 3 months ago

ok lets have sidewalk barbershops...go for it...the birds will pick up the loose hair for nests

bearded_gnome 4 years, 3 months ago

Already three or four of the little outside dining/drinking containment devices narrow the sidewalk terribly for walkers, but it is worse if you're using a wheelchair!

too much of sidewalk is already gone now.


Merrill thinks if we close it off, have "arts festivals" that qualifies as economic stimulus! lmao.

just scan some of his other bright ideas! he wants us to have mandatory rolling blackouts to promote energy conservation. he says that broken streets are good because they serve as passive traffic calming devices.
and according to him, if we all lived in caves it would be much better for the environment.

so, if Merrill's for it ...

Erin Graham 4 years, 3 months ago

Yeah... so let's add "sidewalk retailing" AND allow bicycles on the sidewalks. Brilliant!

Bob Forer 4 years, 3 months ago

While I don't think merchants should be allowed to the same outside square footage they occupy during the annual sidewalk sale, I see nothing wrong with a rack or two or merchandise displayed outside. Those of you who cry that "sidewalks are for walking" are apparently hayseeeds who have never experienced nor enjoyed the vibrancy of Greenwich Village, Boston, San Francisco, etc. Quit your crying. While these may be "public sidewalks" built and maintained by tax dollars, there isn't a downtown building worth less than $300,000, and hence the merchants pay in property tax more than their fair share of the public's cost.

Eride 4 years, 3 months ago

Close the street to drive through traffic and convert the entire strip into an entertainment district.

Problem solved.

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