Archive for Monday, September 27, 2010

Commissioners enthusiastic for Lowe’s but have significant concerns about proposed location

Heavy equipment sits on a rear lot at 6th Street and Folks Road on Monday. The City Commission voted 4-1 against a proposal to build a Lowe's at this site.

Heavy equipment sits on a rear lot at 6th Street and Folks Road on Monday. The City Commission voted 4-1 against a proposal to build a Lowe's at this site.

September 27, 2010


Lowe’s advertising slogan of “Let’s build something together” may get put to the test Tuesday by Lawrence city commissioners.

A trio of city commissioners on Monday said they’re excited about the prospect of Lowe’s coming to Lawrence, but expressed significant concerns about the plan to build a 150,000 square foot store on property that essentially is in front of Free State High School.

At least one commissioner said he’ll suggest at Tuesday evening’s meeting that Lowe’s change the focus of its project and build on property near Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway.

“We’ve got a spot just down the road that is zoned for retail, it has sewer, it has infrastructure, and it is just sitting there,” City Commissioner Aron Cromwell said. “We’re ready for them there.”

Mayor Mike Amyx and Commissioner Rob Chestnut also expressed reservations about Lowe’s preferred plan to build on a site near Sixth Street and Folks Road. Previously approved plans call for the site to house residential uses and to be part of a new urbanism style development that puts a premium on walkability. Both commissioners said a big-box retailer would be much different from what neighbors or planners had anticipated for the area.

“I have some pretty significant concerns,” Chestnut said. “I’m concerned with this proposal you really do make a significant change to the whole look and feel of the area.”

But urging Lowe’s to change its plans may be a gamble. Lowe’s officials previously have said they are aware of the site near Sixth Street and the SLT — which is part of the Mercato development — but have said it doesn’t work for their needs. John Peterson, an attorney representing Lowe’s, told Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners last month that a lack of homes and other retailers near the Sixth and SLT site made the property unsuitable for Lowe’s. Attempts to reach Peterson Monday were unsuccessful.

The proposal to build the home improvement center at Sixth and Folks, which would place Lowe’s about a block away from the new Walmart, has drawn a mixed reaction from the public. Some neighbors near the site have expressed concerns about traffic, but some retailers near the area have expressed support for the project. The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce also has come out in strong support of Lowe’s plan.

The project has received negative recommendations from both the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission and the city planning department. In addition to site concerns, the planning department also raised the issue of whether there is enough demand in the city to support the new retailer.

City commissioners on Monday said they weren’t concerned about that issue.

“They wouldn’t be making this sort of investment if their business wouldn’t support it,” Cromwell said. “We occasionally need to weigh in on some of those free market issues but I like to let the free market settle those disputes itself.”

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall.


Sue McDaniel 7 years, 1 month ago

They are going to end up losing out on a Lowe's which would be so great to have. Do they not see that there is NO building going on at present so sticking them out by the (unfinished) SLT is not good for THEM??? Once again, we will not get a good business because it is OUR way or the HIGHWAY.

Resident10 7 years, 1 month ago

I disagree. If this market is important to Lowe's they will move here regardless. In any case, I think there is excellent long-term value in protecting Free State, or any of our schools from ending up in the middle of a commercial development. We risk a lot by allowing the land around free state to be developed inappropriately.

If we had space already occupied by Wal-Mart and Lowes, (just examples) would anyone propose to build a school next to them? Probably not. Instead we would opt for a community/residential setting. So why are we even considering this? We have an opportunity to strengthen the image and value of Lawrence by improving its school setting. Lets not blow it in the name of short sighted profits for a few developers.

brianjay1 7 years, 1 month ago

This location is across the street from the high school in a development. Lowes is going to do the bulk of business on nights and weekends, when school is out. IF we can manage the development properly what is the problem?? Props to the city councilman that finally stated that the business wouldn't invest in the community if it couldn't support both. They would not build a store to fail, would they? I wouldn't mind either location along 6th, but driving across town when working on a project can be difficult, especially with the city continuing to develop west.

gccs14r 7 years, 1 month ago

Why does Lowe's want to be nestled in a residential setting? Their customer base drives to the store, so it's not like they need to be within walking distance of anywhere. In fact, being out at 6th and the bypass would make it easier for folks from the south and east sides of town to get to their store, and it would be easier, safer, and less disruptive for Lowe's to get deliveries via the Turnpike and the bypass, avoiding city streets altogether. As for being a great loss if they decide to not come here, maybe not so much. I'm tired of the City rolling over for every large commercial interest that wants to ignore the planning commission. There is an established development plan for 6th and Folks and Lowe's doesn't fit in it. We have other open space that will work, it's just not owned by Doug Compton. Too bad.

gccs14r 7 years, 1 month ago

If that's their attitude, they can stay in Olathe. We need to stop genuflecting before every retailer who wants everything their way. National retailers are net exporters of residential dollars, so we're doing them a huge favor by letting them come here at all. They need to be reminded of that once in awhile.

Resident10 7 years, 1 month ago

That is fine with me. I would rather the community not be devalued with a poor retail placement like this.

Keith 7 years, 1 month ago

Has anyone told Lowe's their stuff will be 1% more expensive at that site rather than at the trafficway?

CLARKKENT 7 years, 1 month ago


LogicMan 7 years, 1 month ago

Drop the special taxing district, or build it just west of Wal-Mart or at the SLT. Then build it, and I will come shop!

somebodynew 7 years, 1 month ago

Well Snap_ this is one time I might not agree with you. I wish everyone would look at a little bigger picture here. The Developer, who fought to have this zoned the way it currently is, wisely decided they couldn't make any money buidling the houses/neighborhood that they fought for. The Developer is the one who sought out Lowe's in order to be able to make money off the land. Sure, Lowe's is sticking by the Developer and saying the other site won't work (and there is probably some sweetheart deal made), but as much as I would like to see a Lowe's here, I really do not think this is the proper spot for it.

Why do we have planning and growth plans if we aren't going to come close to following them. I also find it interesting that BOTH the County and City planning departments said that it shouldn't be approved. Might be a good time to see if the Commission has **** or a rubber stamp.

catsmeow 7 years, 1 month ago

Building where Lowe's wants to build is the best and I am sure Lowe's has done the research. Why would they want to locate in an area where residents would have less need for their products. How many University students will flock to Lowe's to fix up their apartments? I would like to see it at the Folks & 6th location. That would be conveninent for me. Grocery stores, gas stations, Wal-mart, major high school, aquatic center. Certainly would be handy spot, saving gas and running around time.

Keith 7 years, 1 month ago

"and homes built to last."

Funniest thing you've written in a long time.

Robert Schehrer 7 years, 1 month ago

Sixth and Folks is not the right place for a Lowes.

GardenMomma 7 years, 1 month ago

There's that much difference in a half mile? Or could it possibly be that extra 1% to go towards defraying development and certain operating expenses?

Why, exactly, will nowhere else but right there work?

Bob Forer 7 years, 1 month ago

Good point, Momma. I think you have figured out the One Per Cent Solution.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 1 month ago

John Peterson, an attorney representing Lowe’s, told Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners last month that a lack of homes and other retailers near the Sixth and SLT site made the property unsuitable for Lowe’s

Ever been to the Lowe's in Topeka?

Anybody remember the "other retailers" near Wal Mart when it was built? It is a wonder if ever survived...

grimpeur 7 years, 1 month ago

"Commissioners enthusiastic for Lowe’s but have significant concerns about proposed location"

Ga-ZACKLY! That is: of course they do.

It's the wrong place. That space needs to be friendlier to the school and to ped and bike traffic in that block, and less encouraging of auto traffic. The traffic problems created by the to-date development of that area needn't be compounded at this point.

"John Peterson, an attorney representing Lowe’s, told Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners last month that a lack of homes and other retailers near the Sixth and SLT site made the property unsuitable for Lowe’s."

Riiiiiiight. Like your client's customer base is drawn from within a half-mile radius. Also, have you checked the development plans? Of COURSE you have! So why so contrary, John? You know that both residential and retail will surround the 6th/SLT site. So does anyone else paying attention.

So stop insulting the intelligence of the citizens and commissioners of Lawrence, sir. Poorly played and inelegant.

The furriest five had me going there for a while. Suspense was killing me.

And by "furriest," I of course mean, "adorably huggable," not literally hirsute.

Good talk, gentlemen. Now let's find a place and space to make this enterprise feel welcome.

Jonathan Becker 7 years, 1 month ago

We rejected in 2000 a proposal for Bauer farm that would put 225,000 sq. ft. of commercial space. Pull out your calculator and this project will put more than 225k on the Bauer farm land. It is not in keeping with Horizon 2020; it is not in keeping with the current zoning and there are significant safety issues with FSH in the neighborhood.

I watched an 18-wheeler turn from westbound Sixth to Northbound Folks. In order to accomplish that little feat, the driver had to swing into the southbound left furn lane and had to put his right rear axles 2' up over the curb onto Douglas County Bank's grass.

Lastly, if the Chamber is for it, you got to know it is a bad idea.

Mr_B9 7 years, 1 month ago

There is affordable real estate near the North Lawrence I70 exit that would be better served for Lowes and of course a grocery store. Oskie, Mclouth, Billtown, Perry, Tongie and others would find this location very convenient including the rest of Lawrence.

GardenMomma 7 years, 1 month ago

I wondered about a North Lawrence location. That might be a great idea.

CLARKKENT 7 years, 1 month ago


DeMontfort 7 years, 1 month ago

It's all about who owns the land and will make the profit, not what Horizon 2020 says. Doug doesn't own the Mercato land. Watch tomorrow night and see how many city commissioners he was able to buy off. Too bad for Doug that Sue isn't still on the commission.

JustNoticed 7 years, 1 month ago

Doug Compton is a liar. Ask any Neighborhood Association that has ever had to deal with him. Arrogant, privileged, spoiled brat and, a liar.

crackers 7 years, 1 month ago

Compton also destroyed a Kansas state champion bald cypress tree.

easyliving 7 years, 1 month ago

Next time you are at Lowe's in Topeka/KC please take a little time to drive around the parking lot, there are piles of construction material, litter and garbage everywhere.

Lowe's is very well known for not paying contractors to clean, mow or maintain their properties. Their landscape/property maintenance is part of a national contract so they (Brickman Co.) attempts to subcontract all the services out at very low prices. (which means minimal or NO service) Look at any of the Lowe's in Kansas/Missouri and you see the same piles of trash and poor upkeep.

Just watch and see no matter where they build it.

budwhysir 7 years, 1 month ago

I propose that we make the location located in another area better suited for locating a store similar to the said building making all involved feel better about debating such a trivial matter as location. I mean why locate something in a desired location unless the desire is stronger than the affliction with time waste management. Oh and what ever happened to free enterprise??? Lets regulate the regulations regulating the regulatory commity on reglating regulations. That should allow for an ammendment to ammending the ammended ammendments

mdrndgtl 7 years, 1 month ago

Put that gigantic concrete playground in North Lawrence so we don't have to look at it.

Gene Wallace 7 years, 1 month ago

“I have some pretty significant concerns,” Chestnut said. “I’m concerned with this proposal you really do make a significant change to the whole look and feel of the area.”

Let's see, three years ago there were woods with a small herd of deer in that location. Also, raccoons, possums, rabbits, skunk, hawks and falcons, an owl or two and even wild turkeys made that area home. Free State High School was sheltered from the chaos of Sixth Street.

Sure he is concerned about the look and feel of the area.

Gene Wallace 7 years, 1 month ago

The Sixth and Wakarusa corner had a small corn field. The Folkes area up to the High School was wooded.

leeroy_johnson 7 years, 1 month ago

I would like to see about 40 - 50 homes demolished right in the middle of a neighborhood and then put a lowes there. That way all these lazy people in this town don't even have to get in their car. The fear of driving just causes too much strain and pain. Forbid you drive the whole extra 2 minutes to 6th and SLT. Hell, there is only 1 light there.

This is getting old. Only in lawrence do you have this hodge podge mixed development. Say no and tell lowes to p*** off.

BigPrune 7 years, 1 month ago

Question: Is Lawrence, KS business unfriendly?

Answer: A) Yes B) No, now go away C) I don't care, I'm a communist

This is typical of Lawrence. NOTHING has changed. The vocal minority rules the roost.

Incidentally, Horizon 2020 was outdated the very day it rolled off the presses.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

Lowe's go buy out Home Depot.

Lawrence taxpayers cannot afford to bail out local developers who made bad decisions backed by city commissioner votes. It's not the job of taxpayers to guarantee profit on risky development.

The reason that large space is available is because new retail tenants decided that Baur Farms was a losing deal. Whatever happend to new urbanism?

Hey commissioners what you going to do about that empty Home Depot building? Explain please how Lawrence taxpayers can afford to promote large empty buildings.

Commissioners please explain to the public all of the benefits of economic displacement.

BigPrune 7 years, 1 month ago

Did Home Depot close, or are you inferring that it will close if Lowes opens up? Lawrence needs sales tax dollars to pay for all the do-gooder big city services and things we have to offer. You can't have one without the other.

juststrugglin 7 years, 1 month ago

Empty buildings???? North Lawrence, EastHills business park.... The list goes on and on. Lawrence history with Big Businesses does not have a good track record. They ran American Eagle off now Ottawa benefits from that, Red Lobster, Nope and I know there is a lot more. Let Doug and the City boys worry about that, I will keep going to Olathe and Topeka..

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

Empty buildings are tax increases.

City government cannot live off property tax alone.

When will you understand? Why do you support economic displacement over economic growth?

"Suburban sprawl has been rightly blamed for many things: destroying green space, increasing air and water pollution, fracturing our neighborhoods and forcing us to drive gridlocked roads for every chore. But there is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned - developers are draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

Sprawl is the result of over five decades of subsidies paid for by the American taxpayer. These range from the obvious to the obscure and include big projects-like the billions we spend on new roads as well as smaller ones-like the tax-breaks that encourage businesses to move to the edge of town.

We've subsidized developers at such a basic level for so long, that many people believe the status quo is actually fair and neutral. This is false-what we think of as a level playing field is tilted steeply in favor of developers.

How we subsidize developers:

* building new and wider roads
* building schools on the fringe
* extending sewer and water lines to sprawling development
* extending emergency services to the fringe
* direct pay-outs to developers
* this list could go on and on

How do we subsidize developers? Through an array of state, local and federal programs-and through incentives built into the development process itself. "

If developers projects never pay back the taxpayers or prove to be actual economic growth meaning new additional growth in revenue dollars and new employees without any other business going out of business why should taxpayers sit back and remain silent?

We've subsidized developers at such a basic level for so long, that many people believe the status quo is actually fair and neutral. This is false-what we think of as a level playing field is tilted steeply in favor of developers.

BorderRuffian 7 years, 1 month ago

Typical whining, simpering Larryvillains! You want all the conveniences and availabilities of the big cities, the absolutely not near where you live. You want all the good stuff, and you want it convenient to you, but heaven help us if you can see it. This is why Larryville will NEVER be a great city. You all want it the way it has always been, but with all the conveniences and nicities of a real city. Pfah!!!! With this attitude, it's no wonder Larryville will always be just that - Larryville!

Think I'll just do my shopping in Johnson County.

gccs14r 7 years, 1 month ago

Sorry, no. I was never a fan of any of the big box stores moving here. I liked being able to get quality goods from locally-owned businesses.

7texdude 7 years, 1 month ago

When you come back, don't complain about the roads. You sound like someone who just likes to complain about everything. Have fun at the mall!

Clevercowgirl 7 years, 1 month ago

An important factor not mentioned is traffic count. Lowe's wants to be in a location where there is a lot of SLOW traffic that can pull in. If located by the SLT, people will be zipping by, not ideal for Lowe's. Just a fact of life folks (no pun intended). We have already created the high traffic, retail environment, and now we want to prevent further development. Gee, I'm sure those high school kids will really be harmed by Lowe's. CVS - okay, Lowe's - OH NO!

Clevercowgirl 7 years, 1 month ago

Actually, yes. When people are out running errands, they tend to stop for things (mulch, plants, paint, etc) if it is convenient. The store that is most convenient will get a good share of business. Haven't you ever been mulling over buying an item, and stopped in to look at what's available? What else did you buy while in there? This is why in commercial real estate, the three factors are: location, location, and location.

gccs14r 7 years, 1 month ago

People out running errands have a list. If landscaping or home repair isn't on the list, the stores that sell those supplies aren't going to be on the list of stops, either. People don't just swing by a home improvement store on the way home from the gym because they had a sudden urge to buy a table saw.

Clevercowgirl 7 years, 1 month ago

Thanks for the ridiculous example. When I am out running errands, I stop at places not on the list all the time. If What you say is true, location would not be such a big factor to retail business.

Kontum1972 7 years, 1 month ago

build it in north lawrence past TEEPEE junction....great location..the airport is out there...and Lowes can parachute in products from C-130' its close to the strip club's for lunch....

George Lippencott 7 years, 1 month ago

This is a zoning issue. As pointed out in the editorial, if we are going to have zoning then maybe we should adhere to it. Moving Lowe's a few hundred yards to an appropriately zoned site seems more than rational. Anybody know why it is a “my way or the highway” issue with Lowe's - or is it?

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

Community Improvement District Sales Tax = local corporate Free Lunch is a never ending sales tax.

Once the improvements or new projects are accomplished and paid for the sales tax rolls on into large profits.. A new Lowe's store would be covered by this Community Improvement District Sales Tax.

Who collects this tax? Is the taxpayer funding the tax dollar management?

None will ever reach local or state cookie jars.

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