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.


oooreally1234 2 years, 4 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.


oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 4 months ago

Did East Lawrence hate John Stavros? Did the merchants on Mass St hate John Stavros?

How did John Stavros ever get a building built? Was he lucky or smart or maybe the community embraced him?

No one remembers John Stavros. Goes to show you that Lawrence is not steeped in history but rather steeped in professional meeting goers and a city commission that can't get it's act together to move the city forward. Planning and Development sure isn't helping either.

What did John Stavros have to do to build a building?


beaujackson 2 years, 4 months ago

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


geekin_topekan 2 years, 4 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?


gilly 2 years, 4 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?


oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 4 months ago

Did John Stavros have to fight East Lawrence? John Stavros lived in East Lawrence.

Where are the John Stavros of today.


appleaday 2 years, 4 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.


Randall Barnes 2 years, 4 months ago

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


sunny 2 years, 4 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!


jafs 2 years, 4 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.


justforfun 2 years, 4 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


Lawrence_Pilot 2 years, 4 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.


Grammaton 2 years, 4 months ago

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


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

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

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


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