Archive for Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Plans for new downtown hotel and apartment building shrink

December 7, 2011


Plans for a downtown, multi-story hotel and apartment building shrunk a bit Tuesday night, while city leaders expressed hope that chances of a compromise with concerned neighbors were growing.

City commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting canceled a vote on the hotel/apartment project at the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets. Instead, developers submitted a new plan that reduces the height of the building on the edge closest to the east Lawrence neighborhood, along with making several other design changes. Commissioners ordered that plan to go to the city’s Historic Resources Commission next week for further review.

“We have a project that has undergone some evolution here,” said Mayor Aron Cromwell. “That is because the neighborhood and the developer have gotten together, and that is encouraging to see.”

Developers for the project, a group led by Lawrence businessmen Doug Compton and Mike Treanor, proposed several changes to the building. They include:

• The portion of the building facing New Hampshire Street would remain six stories in height, but a parapet at the top of the building would be reduced. Overall the New Hampshire Street side of the building would shrink from 79 feet to 74 feet.

• Much of the eastern edge of the building, which is closest to a historic neighborhood on Rhode Island Street, would shrink from five stories to four stories. The building’s height on that edge would reduce from 69 feet to 52 feet. As a result, the project would include 79 hotel rooms instead of the 81 previously envisioned. The project also would include 36 apartment units and retail and restaurant space on the ground floor.

• Vehicles using the hotel’s drop-off lane, which would be between the new building and the adjacent Lawrence Arts Center, would no longer use the alley to exit the property. Instead vehicles would be rerouted into the building’s underground parking garage.

• The building would be moved two feet away from the eastern edge of the property line to allow for the existing alley to be widened.

• Designers will look to replace more contemporary exterior building materials, such as ceramic tile, with more traditional materials.

Several neighbors said they appreciated that developers had made changes to the plans after having two meetings with concerned residents in the area. But they stopped far short of saying they approved of the new plans.

“Each time we meet, we get a little more,” said Phil Collison, who was representing the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association. “So I say let’s go for 10 more meetings.”

Collison said several neighbors would much rather see the building shrink to five stories on its New Hampshire Street edge and to three stories along its eastern edge that abuts the neighborhood.

Representatives with the development group said they would continue to meet with neighbors.

“I think we’ll continue to have good discussions in the future,” Compton said. “But it is change, and some people don’t like change, but we’ll continue to work to make it a good project for everybody involved.”

City commissioners offered very few comments about the new design. That’s in part because commissioners may be asked to be judge and jury on the project at a later date. The city’s Historic Resources Commission will next review the project. If the HRC approves the plan, the project theoretically could be built without any City Commission action because the site already has the proper zoning in place.

But if the HRC denies the project, which it did with the previous plan, the City Commission will serve as a quasi-judicial board to hear an appeal of the HRC decision.

The Historic Resources Commission is scheduled to discuss the project at its Dec. 15 meeting, but staff members said they’ll recommend that the HRC take no action at that meeting. Instead, they’ll recommend the project be sent to an HRC subcommittee for discussion about various architectural issues, which will also give developers more time to meet with neighbors.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

“But it is change, and some people don’t like change”

Not all change is for the better, Mr. Compton.

George_Braziller 6 years, 5 months ago

  1. Too much mass of a building right next to a residential neighborhood.
  2. Too intensive of use for that location.
  3. Too small of a lot for that large of a building.
  4. The intersection of New Hampsire and 9th Street would become a bottleneck of vehicles trying to get in or out of the underground parking garage.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

"1. A residential bordering a commercial district."

Yep, and as such, any new structures need to respect the transition between those two districts--not even the warmed-over revision comes close to doing that.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

"Im not writing a paper moron."

Clearly not-- but you're most certainly being barely literate, petty, immature jerk.

"Transition??? Who dictates what type of transition is needed? You??"

That would be the HRC and the City Commission.

MarcoPogo 6 years, 5 months ago

--Clearly not-- but you're most certainly being barely literate, petty, immature jerk.--

I think you're missing an "a" right before "barely literate".

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

I don't typically play the grammar cop-- everyone can make a typo or other mistake on these un-editible posts. But when they start calling me an "idiot," and a "moron," I make an exception. (Those posts have since been removed, although not by my suggestion.)

Getaroom 6 years, 5 months ago

Translation: You calling someone an "idiot" because it is your best shot at blowing someone off because their opinion is different than yours. Talk about not liking change.

And you mean: why isn't it a good thing, as long as it is not in your front yard?

You might want to think about "suspending" your campaign supporting this idea and do some more "clarifyin'" like Herman Cain has.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

They bought it with a very reasonable expectation that there would be no development wholly inappropriate in scale and design that would completely change the nature of the property they invested in and the quality of life they should be able to maintain.

Grammaton 6 years, 5 months ago

I'd prefer to see a small grocery store at that location.

Lawrence_Pilot 6 years, 5 months ago

I know a lot of you think the neighborhood is being overly sensitive. But I took a walk along RI street a few weeks ago, for the first time in 20 years. Not only are some of the oldest houses in East Lawrence in that block, but the neighborhood has really been fixed up. Gone are most of the dumpy, rundown houses. The block shows real pride of ownership now and is something to be proud of. And, looking between the buildings towards the proposed hotel, you do get the feeling that a big hotel would be out of place, casting shadows on some of the coolest of the buildings (like the Social Service League), and just dwarfing everything. So I now agree that more needs to be done to mitigate the hotels impacts.

Suggest you all go for a walk along the 900 block of Rhode Island before commenting further. Oh, wait, that would take'd rather just post blah blah and whine and complain about the dern gubmint.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

No, but most of the current owners will wish they could go somewhere if Compton and Treanor are allowed to destroy the residential value of their property.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

"So you want to put the needs of a few ahead of the rest of the community?"

This isn't a proposal to "meet the needs of the community." It's a proposal to meet the "perceived" needs of the developers.

"To invest next to a commercial district not thinking the commercial district might change"

The other way to look at it-- don't try to build a commercial development next to a residential neighborhood without expecting to respect the rights of the that neighborhood.

Not that you're capable of seeing this from a perspective very far removed from Compton's butt.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

Nothing is stopping anyone from developing that lot-- they just have to be reasonable about it.

George_Braziller 6 years, 5 months ago

Bo Harris used that same line when he was proposing the Hobbs Taylor Lofts. It HAD to be that large and HAD to be that tall to make it economically feasible. Yet to this day a large section of the first floor still sits empty and unfinished.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

"A break even cash flow analysis"

Is there anywhere in that spreadsheet for loss of value for neighboring properties?

justforfun 6 years, 5 months ago


Well I guess you should have bought the land and built it. There are so many wishers, wanters and non do-ers kinda makes you want to throw up. I'd prefer to see a 3 story go cart track or a strip club, but don't supose DC is gonna go for that. LOL

Grammaton 6 years, 5 months ago

At one time a developer was considering building a grocery store in that lot, but I can neither recall nor locate the details of that proposal. Evidently it didn't get past the conceptual stage. And a grocery store near the downtown area isn't an unrealistic idea. I believe the antique mall used to be one, and myself and others in the neighborhood loved having the casbah nearby even though it was expensive.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

Whether or not change is good is a matter of values and opinions, not facts.

All change, in my experience, tends to come with positive and negative aspects.

This particular project would be no exception to that, as far as I can tell - it depends on your point of view.

And, it also depends on what happens in the future, which is inherently hard (impossible?) to predict with any sort of accuracy.

Sunny Parker 6 years, 5 months ago

I shake my head when I read the posts 'i would like to see a grocery store in that spot'. Put your money where your mouth is and buy the lot from Mr. Compton. Thank you Doug for creating jobs in the community. I for one appreciate your efforts!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

Actually, I don't think Compton owns the lot-- probably just an option to buy it at this point.

Grammaton 6 years, 5 months ago

Easier said than done. A person having a preference doesn't equate to that person having the funds to make it happen. I shake my head when I see others speaking negatively of others' comments.

Katie Dennis 6 years, 5 months ago

So are you suggesting that because some in the community would like to see a grocery store on this lot but do not have the funds to do it themselves that they can't have an opinion about what should go there? I'm a college graduate with a full time job. I work hard, but I can't 'put my money where my mouth is' because I'm paying student loans. I love this city, it's my home. I'd love to see a grocery store go in there, but I can't just go buy the lot from Doug Compton (or whoever owns it). If everyone that couldn't buy the lot and develop it let everyone that could do whatever they wanted, this whole town would be luxury hotels, restaurants and apartments. So people without money aren't entitled to an opinion about their own community?

Randall Barnes 6 years, 5 months ago

a public transportation hub like the city was proposing for the amtrak station.

appleaday 6 years, 5 months ago

I think the real issue at this point is what the building will look like. Most recently built moderately priced hotels are really ugly structures that may be OK alongside a freeway on the outskirts of town. It's not unreasonable for the neighbors (who will live with the structure every day) to request some modifications in design and materials. I live close to downtown and agree that getting more people to reside downtown is an improvement, but I would not like to see just anything built without regard for the area as a whole. It seems to me that the city commission, the contractors, and the neighborhood representatives understand the importance of negotiatian and compromise.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

"We are over built downtown in that area already "

How can you know that? Only our supersmart developers can possibly have any valid opinion on such a thing. If they want to do it, it has to be right.

flyin_squirrel 6 years, 5 months ago

Hopefully they shut down the library during the renovation, then bozo will have no access to a computer to post comments...

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

Or maybe I could just get a job at First Management. They seem to have several employees "authorized" to post here on company time.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

What about empty hotel rooms and rental properties?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

I really couldn't care less what his motivation is, as long as it's legal, and doesn't screw the nearby neighbors in the process.

Jennifer Dropkin 6 years, 5 months ago

I wonder what's going on with that lot right now. I walked past it this morning, and along with all the stuff on it for the new construction across the street, machinery was tearing up concrete on the lot. Any idea what's going on?

geekin_topekan 6 years, 5 months ago

I still don't understand how the same developer can be the cause and cure for downtown ills.

When the rich as for a handout from citizens its called progress and when a poor man asks citizens for a handout its called socialism and redistributed wealth?

beaujackson 6 years, 5 months ago

Let them build whatever they want, as long as it doesn't cost taxpayers when it goes bust.

Katie Dennis 6 years, 5 months ago

what?! First the giant building next to the parking structure and now a luxury hotel/apartment building right across the street?! Who is going to live there?! The Eldridge and The Oread, plus Hobbs Taylor and the 901 apartments, seem like more than enough meet the demand for luxury hotels/apts. Do we really need another one? It's not that big of a town.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

It's a game of Keep up with the Fritzels-- they have two hotels, and Doug doesn't have one yet.

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