Archive for Monday, August 15, 2011

Town Talk: Bikes and books and, oh my, doughnuts at Ninth and Mass.?; city to consider building public parking lot at Poehler building; Compton’s incentives requests still in limbo

August 15, 2011


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News and notes from around town:

• While the old-time candy shop of Penny Annie’s is no more at the corner of Ninth and Mass., the intersection may still end up having an old-time feel nonetheless. It sounds like the place will become a shop that sells rare books, vintage bicycles, normal coffee, and perhaps doughnuts. (If that last part is true, I’m becoming more convinced that City Hall has a secret strategy to solve its budget challenges by selling certain downtown employees by the pound. Think about it: Two cupcake places, two new Mexican restaurants and now perhaps doughnuts.) Multiple people have told me that the folks at The Dusty Bookshelf are involved with the new venture, but so are some other local business people. I’ve noticed that there is a For Rent sign in the Lawrence Re-Cyclery at 731 N.H., so I don’t know if that shop is involved in the deal or not. I’ll call around and let you know what I find out. But if all this is correct, the place sounds funky. When it comes to Downtown Lawrence, that’s the original old school.

• Speaking of downtown, I had a prominent landlord in the area get in touch with me recently. She wanted to know if I could ask all of you a question about what type of businesses you would like to see downtown. There are several vacancies to fill. You know, one idea I have heard come up from time to time — even from people at City Hall — is the idea of a large movie theater. Obviously, there is Liberty Hall already, but I think these folks were talking about something like Southwind that exists on South Iowa Street. What do you think? Would that be a positive for downtown? Generating nighttime traffic hasn’t been a problem for downtown, but perhaps a movie theater would change the crowd some. Tell me your thoughts on that and what else you would like to see. Just leave your comments on the board below. Get out your Downtown Lawrence crown, and be king for a day.

• Not far from downtown there is a major redevelopment project brewing. As we have reported before, a Kansas City area development group is working to convert the Poehler building at 619 E. Eighth St. into 49 units of affordable rental housing. As we’ve also reported before, the project will be asking for some public assistance. It already is in a special district that will qualify it for some property tax rebates, and City Manager David Corliss has included money in the 2012 budget to rebuild Delaware Street from Eighth to Ninth streets. (Rebuild probably isn’t the right word. That block of street really doesn’t exist today. It basically is a dirt-path alley.) But it also looks like the city is going to give serious consideration to building a public parking lot in the area. The lot would be just south of the Poehler building along the new street. That would be unusual, given that the city hasn’t really gotten into the public parking businesses outside of downtown proper. (It owns parking lots outside of downtown, but usually they are next to a park or some other city facility.) But Corliss said the city’s participation — if it is approved by city commissioners — would be a sign of how much potential city leaders believe this project has. It could be a spark to improve the whole area near Eighth and Pennsylvania streets, which has several neat old industrial buildings. Corliss told me that the street will cost the city about $750,000 and the parking lot will be around $200,000. Corliss has alerted the commission that the project also may ask for city help in installing a fire sprinkler in the building. City commissioner are slated to pass a resolution Tuesday to lay the groundwork for issuing debt for the project.

I will be interested to see how quickly the city acts on the incentives for this project compared to a couple of other downtown projects. In particular, Doug Compton’s projects to rehabilitate the old Masonic Temple building and his project to build a new multi-story building at Ninth and New Hampshire. Compton and local caterer Steve Maceli want to put the building in a special district to receive property tax rebates for new construction that occurs at the temple building. (That’s the same type of property tax rebate the Poehler building also hopes to use.) The temple project also is seeking help with installing a fire sprinkler system in the building. (Ditto for the Poehler.) What Compton’s project is not asking for is $750,000 in road improvements. It also is different, however, in that the end use would be as a banquet hall rather than affordable rental housing. Compton made his request to the city in April.

On the Ninth and New Hampshire project, Compton is seeking $280,000 in city money to help pay for sidewalks, sewers, streetlights and other public improvements around his seven-story apartment, office and retail building that currently is under construction. That building is in a special district that allows the city to collect a greater share of property taxes from the development. The developers are seeking the $280,000 in assistance given that fact. The project also wants help on parking. Originally it was asking for 65 reserved parking spaces in the public parking garage that is immediately adjacent to the project. It was willing to pay for the spaces, but at a reduced rate. Now, it has become clear to Compton’s group that plan won’t fly with commissioners so it has dropped the request for reserved spaces in the garage, which city studies have shown has quite a bit of capacity. Compton’s group now just wants to buy normal parking passes for the garage — the same kind available to the general public — although they would like a discount. City Hall staff members have recommended against that. Instead, they said the development group should pay full price. Compton made his request to the city in November, and city commissioners have yet to take the issue up in any meaningful way.

So, to summarize, the Poehler building seems to have city staff support for about $1 million worth of direct public spending, including a new public parking lot that will serve the building. Compton’s approximately $10 million project downtown — which most everybody agrees promotes the city goal of providing more opportunities for people to live downtown — is moving more slowly despite it having a lesser price tag. The projects obviously are different, and there may be good reasons for the difference in pace. I’m not trying to say anything other than public incentives are becoming a much bigger part of the development scene, and it will be interesting to watch how commissioners decide where to put public money and how consistent they are in their rationale.


cheeseburger 6 years, 9 months ago

Hey Chad - anything on a rumor of LAC bankruptcy?

Keith 6 years, 9 months ago

Looks like the owners took bankruptcy, according to todays LJW.

Janet Cinelli 6 years, 9 months ago

would love to know more...couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Jonathan Kealing 6 years, 9 months ago

There's a Fuzzy's Taco ( going into what used to be the Camelot II dance studio.

Chad Lawhorn 6 years, 9 months ago

Here's what we have had about Fuzzy's Tacos. Originally the owner said to look for an opening by the end of August. Not sure if it is still on schedule. Thanks, Chad

somedude20 6 years, 9 months ago

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

scary_manilow 6 years, 9 months ago

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

LogicMan 6 years, 9 months ago

A restaurant that specializes in north central European foods and drink, and soft pretzels.

scary_manilow 6 years, 9 months ago

Also, a magazine/ news stand would be great. And a grocery store, obviously. These are probably more important than an effing movie theater.

ooophelia 6 years, 9 months ago

I'd like to see a Trader Joe's in the old Borders building. I know it's hard to keep a grocery store in that area, but come on! We all know hat would be awesome.

Adrienne Sanders 6 years, 9 months ago

There used to be a movie theater in downtown Lawrence (besides Liberty Hall)... it's now called Urban Outfitters.

scary_manilow 6 years, 9 months ago

The Varsity, which was good, and unable to be replaced.

dogsandcats 6 years, 9 months ago

I think Lawrence does need another movie theater (perhaps Marcus or AMC) but where would they put it downtown? A large movie theater takes up a lot of space, and needs a lot of parking.

Maybe they should put one out on W 6th st.

hippieshoes 6 years, 9 months ago

YES. AMC, please come to Lawrence. I love the monstrosity of a theatre at 119th and Strang Line in Olathe, but I would be quite a happy camper if I could scoot over to the west side instead.

Brock Masters 6 years, 9 months ago

"Generating nighttime traffic hasn’t been a problem for downtown, but perhaps a movie theater would change the crowd some"

Why does it matter about the nighttime crowd when most of the businesses are already closed?

Traders Joe would be awesome for Borders. My number one pick.

Nice woman's clothing store would do well too.

Clark Coan 6 years, 9 months ago

Yes, a grocery store would be great and since Round Corner closed there is a need for a drugstore. We need real businesses that serve real needs, not boutiques, bars and restaurants.

somedude20 6 years, 9 months ago

I want Black Mathis and Dread Zeppelin to play Barbra Streisand's "Funny Girl" album live together

Laura Wilson 6 years, 9 months ago

As a kid I went to movies all the time downtown. Rocky Horror at the Varsity will never be topped for midnight entertainment. The Granada showed all the Star Wars movies and Disney films. A lot of times we went to nighttime movies and they drew large crowds.

But, you can't just build one movie theater anymore--you have to a have a multiplex. The only way to do that downtown is to build up. There's no reason a multiplex has to sprawl across several acres. I went to a six story one in Glasgow several years ago and it wasn't any bigger than your typical multistory building. Escalators and elevators took you up to the three screens on each floor.

Keith 6 years, 9 months ago

"The developers are seeking the $280,000 in assistance given that fact. "

I thought I read in this paper that they had already decided to provide that assistance, but over 10 years instead of 2 as the developers requested.

Chad Lawhorn 6 years, 9 months ago

You are thinking of the the Public Incentives Review Commission. It made that recommendation in late June, but the City Commission has not yet acted on that recommendation. Thanks, Chad

Keith 6 years, 9 months ago

Ok, thanks for that info, I thought it was a done deal.

Ken Miller 6 years, 9 months ago

Re: big movie theatre (complex) downtown... be careful what you wish for. Are you following what's been happening on the KC Plaza on weekends?

AnonymousBosch 6 years, 9 months ago

There doesn't seem to be a NEED for a big movie theatre downtown. That would overwhelm parking and potentially create all kinds of new problems. The suggestions for grocery, drug, and clothing stores sound most appealing to me, and as long as there is significant support from the community, they may well succeed. For example, if enough people are clamoring for a Trader Joe's, that would be GREAT. Are there other shops that are successful in KC, for instance, and that people in Lawrence would be keen to have here? Just not a big movieplex, please not a big movieplex downtown.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 9 months ago

Hey, when are you going to paint a sequel to Garden of Delights?

Jimmy 6 years, 9 months ago

A theater downtown could be nice, provided it's a considerable step up from South Wind. Something like Alamo Draft House would be cool.

I'd like to see a Bavarian restaurant/beer garden.

I'd also like to see a Flying Saucer-like bar that specializes in featuring a ton of quality beers on tap.

Or how about a rec center with all sorts of fun stuff like ping-pong tables, billiards, badminton, etc. A place to be active indoors would be nice especially during the cold months.

parrothead8 6 years, 9 months ago

I second the indoor fun stuff idea. Some sort of "Dave & Buster's" type place with cool video games, ping-pong, billiards, etc. would be excellent. All the retail in this town focuses on buying stuff and eating...we want stuff to DO. I can only sit at home reading for so long during the winter months.

cornflakegirlkc 6 years, 9 months ago

A grocery store - no question. I miss the Casbah market!

blindrabbit 6 years, 9 months ago

Rare books and greasy donuts, smudges free!

pace 6 years, 9 months ago

I love the idea of Delaware being a real street between 8th and 9th. Even up some of the traffic flow here in E. Lawrence.

What kind of stores? big fat clothes. Some of the college stores don't carry more than a size 8.
We should have some mag/paper stands, on the corners, like in the city.

kernal 6 years, 9 months ago

What stores don't carry more than a size 8? All I seem to find are size 12 and up. Maybe you and I need to trade our shopping venues! :-)

guppypunkhead 6 years, 9 months ago

A small grocery/convenience/drug store would be great! I would like to be able to buy bacon & eggs, the Sunday New York Times, cigarettes, and some ibuprofen all at once, without having to drive to 6th St or 23rd St. This would be especially timely since Mass. St. Dillons is closed for renovations, but I would have loved it even when they were still open.

I would also agree that a larger, mainstream movie theater downtown would be great. I don't think it would take business from Lib. Hall at all, because they wouldn't be showing the same movies. It would be like Southwind, but downtown. That would be awesome.

Also, I want an arcade and/or putt-putt.

guppypunkhead 6 years, 9 months ago

Yes! A plus-sized clothing store downtown would do really well, I think. Torrid perhaps?

irvan moore 6 years, 9 months ago

the old dimestore was the best business ever downtown, remember the lunch counter?

blindrabbit 6 years, 9 months ago

Downtown mainline theaters were commonplace in downtown Lawrence back in the 1950's-60's, including the Granada, Varsity, Patee and Jawhawk (Liberty Hall). Town was 30,000 residents, KU 8,000 students and not everyone owned a car. Nowadays, too much traffic, too little parking and too much disrespectful behavior to property and individuals for large crowds to be managed downtown. Think of prior problems at the Granada and Last Call go get a handle on this.

no_thanks 6 years, 9 months ago

Why the City would consider investing in a public parking lot somewhere around 8th and Pennsylvania makes no sense whatsoever. There is ample ground surrounding the building that should be turned into a parking lot by the developer. Further, we are already struggling with retail sales and /or attracting new businesses, so what "potential" does Corliss think this location possesses beyond attracting renters due to subsidized rents via low income housing tax credits? Our local government is behaving like our Federal Government in supporting projects (they like to call them benefits) that we as a community cannot afford.

RichardMiller 6 years, 9 months ago

What type of business would I like to see downtown? Well this town is lacking in family entertainment as a whole. What does Lawrence offer now? Basically, an expensive theater, 2 pools, a bowling alley, and a skateboard park/Frisbee golf park. Not too long ago Lawrence had a dollar (Twin) movie theater, a roller rink, and miniature golf. I would like to see those come back along with an indoor climbing wall – that could be downtown in one of the tall buildings. If someone were to build a roller rink it could also be used for an indoor skateboard park in the winter. It could even have a stage and have bands and a place for teenagers to hang out. You might as well throw in an arcade as well. Lawrence needs more for families. Driving to Topeka or KC isn’t always an option. Heck, even Manhattan has its own zoo!

TNPlates 6 years, 9 months ago

The Poehler remodel sounds great, but do we really need more apartments? Granted, the East side could probably use apartments, but it seems an awfully big investment for the city when we already have a glut of apartments in town.

I like the ideas of grocery, pharmacy, family-entertainment, downtown. Seems like "where" is the key question. Anything significant would probably need a bigger footprint than is available on Mass. St. If the Allen Press building/parking lot were to become available, that would be a prime spot for some interesting development. Big if.

katemaeda 6 years, 9 months ago

An old-school general store/grocer. People live downtown, too, and we need groceries! It would be great to have a store within walking/biking distance in which I could find a gallon of milk, batteries, chocolate, a magazine/newspaper, and toothpaste without having to drive across town. It wouldn't have to be anything huge or fancy - just the basics. Perhaps a balance of generic, cheap products with specialty, local, organic, etc., to please people within their varied budgets and ideals.

Any chance Checkers might open a smaller storefront downtown? Just throwin' it out there…

LogicMan 6 years, 9 months ago

"An old-school general store/grocer."

Convert a whole block back to the Wild West? Complete with dirt street, wooden sidewalks and storefronts. And have a saloon, old-style bank, trading post, post office, sheriff/jail, theater, and so on.

Matt Schwartz 6 years, 9 months ago

Dillion's on 6th really isn't that far by bike

Adrienne Sanders 6 years, 9 months ago

There have been several small grocery stores in downtown over the years, and they have always failed.

Trader Joe's does not franchise. The chances of them opening one up in Lawrence are pretty much zero, I'd guess, despite the fact that it would do very good business.

LogicMan 6 years, 9 months ago

"Trader Joe's does not franchise."

So someone should start a cloned competitor that does. With its first store and headquarters in Lawrence, Kansas.

blindrabbit 6 years, 9 months ago

theoljhawk: As one of the Drake family. do you mean when it was a full line bakery (1929-1965) or after the snack shop was added (about 1965). During the 1950's the bakery also occupied what is now Wheatfields.

kernal 6 years, 9 months ago

As more new apartments are added downtown, then we definitely need to have a small grocery store and pharmacy downtown and it's likely downtown would be able to sustain one, unlike in the past. If our long range plan is to rely less on cars and more on our feet, then access to the basic necessities of everyday life should be within walking distance.

antney 6 years, 9 months ago

how about a grocery store? Old Border's building would be ideal spot.

Kimberly Grosse 6 years, 9 months ago

I've always thought a pet store would do well down town. People are always walking their dogs- they would surely stop in. I know I would!

scary_manilow 6 years, 9 months ago

This is supposed to be about our ideas for downtown. Stop getting off subject just to be snarky. Save that crap for Reddit.

xclusive85 6 years, 9 months ago

There's a pet store on 19th? What is it called and what north/south street is it close to?

jhawkinsf 6 years, 9 months ago

I think they were referring to the animal shelter on E. 19th.

xclusive85 6 years, 9 months ago

oh, i thought they were being serious. I would definitely visit a pet store on mass with my dog!

geekin_topekan 6 years, 9 months ago

Geisha Spa and Steakhouse. Someplace to get greasy bacon and eggs that won't cost $12.00. Woolworth's with a diner attached. A detox facility. A black-owned convenience store.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

Reckless west side developers are killing downtown with the help of reckless decisions coming from city commissioners. What a team!

More rental residential properties in a flooded market? How much sense does that make for taxpayers? Local developers and the Chamber love using terms such as "affordable housing" and "senior living" to further promote over building. The question is why does city hall buy into this nonsnense?

Affordable housing comes in the form of tons of foreclosures that which also contribute to the flooded market.

Another movie house like Southwinds? What the hell for? The question as always: Are there enough movie dollars being spent in Lawrence,Ks to justify another movie house? Doubt it big time.

The more eating establishments that come to downtown the more will close aka go out of business = the vacancies will never go away. There are only so many eat out dollars in Lawrence,Kansas. With state and city government laying off employees where is the money to eat out?

It doesn't matter what Lawrence consumers want in downtown. What matters is what will survive,create employment and generate the fair share of tax dollars so city hall will stop increasing our taxes and user fees.

More and more eat out places and bars will not work simply put. Lots of bars in a small town will not attract the retail business.

My suggestions: 1. Bring Old Navy downtown 2. Bring Function/Junction to Downtown Lawrence 3. A health/workout club to the Borders Location 4. Shop Raven Bookstore 5. Apple Store Downtown and/or SONY Style 6. Banana Republic Downtown ( pushing their laid back look)

Reduce the downtown rent!

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 9 months ago

lulz. An Apple store? How high are you? Banana Republic for their "laid back look?" Hilarious.

scary_manilow 6 years, 9 months ago

Keep big box crap like Old Navy out of downtown. And Compton is already cramming a "health club" into his stupid project on Vermont.

I do love the Raven, though. And rent downtown IS too high-- why there aren't rent controls in place is beyond me.

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 9 months ago

You clearly don't own property and have never taken an economics class.

scary_manilow 6 years, 9 months ago

I was serious about a sex shop. Why did that get deleted? I don't mean a shop where you have sex, duh. Other big towns have them integrated with the rest of their city. Aren't we supposed to be a liberal, progressive-minded, up-and-coming metropolis? Or are we just another small Kansas town with a backward attitude towards healthy, adult recreation? Christ.

Practice your DELETE button on some of those jerks who badmouth murder and accident victims for a change instead of using it to impede actual discourse.

irvan moore 6 years, 9 months ago

please city commission, get over the parking lot addiction

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 9 months ago

I think it would be cool if they opened a European style movie theater downtown. No greasy popcorn, Skittles and sodas in paper cups, but a server that takes orders, wine, white china and airline style tray tables on the backs of the seats to set food and drink. My daughter lived in Amsterdam for awhile and raved about the movie houses there. Lawrence is just artsy tartsy enough to pull off something like that.

Currant 6 years, 9 months ago

Hey Chad, Do you know the status of the supposedly soon-to-reopen Vermont Street BBQ? It doesn't look like there has been much progress there. Thanks!

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

"Keep big box crap like Old Navy out of downtown." Why Old Navy? It is a popular venue that would create more foot traffic downtown.

"Big box stores" historically have been part of downtowns. Sears and Penny's were once in downtown Lawrence. They draw consumers to the mom and pop operations as well. Every store needs walk by traffic.

I say a combination makes a healthy mix.

A fitness center in Borders for those who will not want to support Compton's new project.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

Parking lot paid for by taxpayers? Get real!

Let developers build and pay for their parking lots.

What's with this pork barrel spending craze in City Hall?

Stephanie Hull 6 years, 9 months ago

A grocery store with staples, fresh produce, a pharmacy, magazines, and newspapers would be awesome downtown. The old Borders building would be a great place for it because of the parking lot.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 9 months ago

All these ideas for what stores to open downtown. If you think they're good ideas, ones that will make money, then do it. Just do it. Where is the entrepreneurial spirit in America?

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

Trying to get commercial loans from banks, I imagine.

Which is apparently not very easy these days.

EJ Mulligan 6 years, 9 months ago

Grocery store or small market and/or drug store, as many have mentioned; both are needed. Tapas would be a lovely restaurant addition. More art cooperatives and/or performance space. Does anyone else miss Everything But Ice (circa late 90s), or is it just me?

acg 6 years, 9 months ago

I know a guy who's right now in the process of cutting a deal to start building a Mini Golf and Family Fun Center here in Lawrence. He has a facebook site--Lawrence Mini Golf and Fun Center is the actual name and everyone can track the progress there. I think it's going to be great when it's done.

geekin_topekan 6 years, 9 months ago

Somewhere I can get some lard, flour and beans.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

How many incentives aka pork barrel requests have the Compton group requested in the past 12 months?

City government ought to be ashamed of itself for handing out so many pork barrel incentives to very wealthy applicants.

Time for means testing associated with pork barrel requests.

Kookamooka 6 years, 9 months ago

Thing's I'll drive 50 miles for but can't get here are...Fritz's train restaurant in Crown Center. The original is in KCK. Simple food, simple fun. There is a line outside of that place everyday. A space that has rotating children's museum exhibits. (Yep. You can rent those puppies) Again...a destination and people line up around blocks to go to those things. That concept could even be like one of those temporary holiday stores...aka Halloween or Christmas. When not selling holiday crap, you've got a hands on museum concept. A great breakfast place. Too bad First Watch didn't move downtown. Breakfast has the highest mark up. Make room for the Americana Music Academy in a location with a venue for performances. I'm thinking Nashville now. H&M. DSW. Petworld.

The only way to make any of that happen....LOWER RENTS.

formerlyanonymous 6 years, 9 months ago

I'd love to see a Euro-styled convenience store (which is traditionally is part newspaper stand & part snack shop--including prepackaged deli sandwiches & fresh fruit & chips in addition to carrying the usual convenience store items like milk, over the counter meds, stamps, diapers, etc.)

I'd also love to see some kind of family-friendly entertainment center.....indoor golf, arcade games, science play center, whatever....

H&M or Trader Joe's would be awesome, but we don't have the market for them to want to come in.... Chick-Fil-A? A Chick-Fil-A would be awesome...

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