Archive for Monday, December 12, 2011

Town Talk: Coffee shop plans to open near Ninth and Delaware; developers of proposed hotel/apartments offer to improve adjacent Social Service League building; 23rd and Iowa project moving ahead

December 12, 2011


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News and notes from around town:

•Whether you are east or west, you likely are not going to have a problem finding your cup of Morning Joe. Last week we reported on rumors that Starbucks will open a new store in northwest Lawrence. Well, today we have news of an East Lawrence option — and perhaps not surprisingly it won’t have the Starbucks feel.

An East Lawrence company that specializes in renovating historic homes has filed the paperwork at City Hall to convert an old industrial building at 920 Delaware Street into a coffee house. The building is in front of the Allen Press offices and warehouse near Hobbs Park. Long ago, the building used to be part of the Poehler grocery warehouse operation, which had its main warehouse about a block to the north. The Poehler warehouse building currently is undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation into affordable apartments.

Matt Jones, a co-owner of Struct-Restruct, took notice of that and began thinking of how the unique building at 920 Del. — which was built in 1910 — could be better used.

“This area seems to be changing quite a bit, and we really love the neighborhood,” said Jones, whose company has remodeled many of the homes in the 900 block of Delaware. “We think that there are enough people living and working around here that we could make this area a vital part of the neighborhood.”

Jones’ company has its woodshop in the building next door to the coffee shop location. A friend of Jones’ will run the coffee shop, but Jones said Struct-Restruct may use the coffee house as gallery space for some of its woodworking creations.

The company, however, is first seeking to rezone the property from a heavy industrial category to a light industrial category to accommodate the coffee shop. Jones said he hopes to begin renovating the building early next year.

• While we’re talking about old East Lawrence buildings, there is news about the Social Service League Thrift Store at 905 R.I. The store is directly behind the proposed multi-story hotel and apartment building planned for the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets.

The hotel/apartment project hasn’t yet won approval from city commissioners, in part, because owners in the 900 block of Rhode Island Street have objected to the impact the tall building would have on their properties.

But now I’m getting word that the development group for the hotel/apartment project — which is led by Lawrence businessmen Doug Compton and Mike Treanor — have made an offer to help the Social Service League Thrift store repair its building, if the hotel/apartment project goes forward.

Treanor confirmed to me that the development group has toured the store’s building and believes it can donate some significant improvements. In particular, the thrift store building includes an old, historic structure along Rhode Island street, but there is — how should we say — less historic addition that is along the alley. That addition is in poor shape, and Treanor said the development group would entertain the idea of completely rebuilding the addition for the thrift store.

Some people may see this as a gesture of goodwill from developers who are set to become new neighbors to a historic district, while others may see it as an attempt to simply gain favor with a key player in the neighborhood. That will be up to you to decide, but the development group does have a history of making donations to non-profit organizations. Treanor and Compton are the leaders of the development group that donated the property for Theatre Lawrence’s new facility, which will be built in the Bauer Farm development near Sixth and Wakarusa.

The city’s Historic Resources Commission is scheduled to have another hearing on the hotel/apartment project at its meeting on Thursday evening.

• City commissioners are ready to take the leap on another multi-million dollar project on Iowa Street. Commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday are expected to formally accept $500,000 in funding from the Kansas Department of Transportation to overhaul the intersection of 23rd and Iowa streets. By accepting the funding, the city basically will be committing to spend about $1 million to match the $500,000 in state funding.

Commissioners will jump at that deal, though. The intersection is the busiest in Lawrence, with about 60,000 cars per day. Plans for the previously announced project include adding dual left-turn lanes for east and west bound traffic and reconfiguration of the free-flowing right-turn lanes at the intersection. Those right turn lanes have created problems with people weaving and merging into traffic on both Iowa and 23rd streets.

As part of their action on Tuesday, commissioners will direct staff members to send out a request for proposals for engineers to design the intersection. Design work is expected to take until 2013. Construction would not begin until 2014. Thus far, the city believes the project can be completed without purchasing any additional rights-of-ways or easements from adjacent property owners.


pace 6 years, 6 months ago

Well the social service building has served this community for a long time. It is a thoughtful offer. I appreciate the developers listening to the neighbors and adjusting their design. I hope it can be a case of win, win, win. The building is built, the social service building is bettered and the neighbors are heard.

I like the idea of the coffee shop on Delaware. the East side use to have some nice little commercial spots. I like the mix, some don't, just saying I like it.

deec 6 years, 6 months ago

This is Dougie trying to buy off the League. Business as usual for this sleazy 1%er.

George_Braziller 6 years, 6 months ago

I was on the board of the Social Service League for three years. Yes, the building has some needed repairs but the odds of the offer being accepted are nil. The motivations are too obvious and the strings attached are too great.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 6 months ago

If the South Lawrence Trafficway is completed, how much traffic will that divert from 23rd. & Iowa? And will that make the expenditure at that intersection necessary? Does anyone know?

Jake Esau 6 years, 6 months ago

I just know that almost every time I drive from home in Overland Park to visit my parents in Lawrence, I would use the SLT if it was available.

gccs14r 6 years, 6 months ago

About zero. The SLT is supposedly going to divert truck traffic around Lawrence, but I don't know what truck traffic would currently be on 23rd that isn't either originating or terminating in Lawrence. If you're not stopping here, you're not likely to be anywhere near here.

gccs14r 6 years, 6 months ago

If they want to improve flow and safety, perhaps they should rebuild it as an interchange. Leave Iowa elevated and sink 23rd beneath it.

blindrabbit 6 years, 6 months ago

deec: You'd probably be bitchin if the bird of paradise flew up your nose! Not a Doug fan, but give it a break; anything the guy does stirs up the undertbelly of Lawrence. Better yet move to some progressive town in Kansas i.e. Hutch., Topeka, Ottawa or Sibleyville.

deec 6 years, 6 months ago

So rather than addressing the convenient timing of this "charitable" offer you launch a personal attack on me? This developer is a sleazy addict to corporate welfare who has been draining the public coffers for years.

deec 6 years, 6 months ago

"...have made an offer to help the Social Service League Thrift store repair its building, if the hotel/apartment project goes forward. " In other words, you scratch my back...There's no inherent "charity" involved. Regarding his being a corporate welfare addict, name one project he's done that didn't involve some public funds being used through tax abatements, etc. He is the local embodiment of the greed-driven 1% mentality that is destroying our nation and the world.

Mark Currie 6 years, 6 months ago


You did a rather good job of name calling yourself. What proof to you have that Compton is a crook? If true, why isn't he in jail? I get so tired of every time someone wants to make a change in Lawrence a whole bunch of people have to start bitching about it. I lost my home to the 59 highway project and didn't say a thing. Just took the $$ an ran.

Mike Myers 6 years, 6 months ago

How generous we are when it directly affects our bottom line. Real estate is certainly worth more when next to a brand new community theatre. Show me something selfless.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

What if there is more to this motel discussion than the Social Service League?

Do developers believe East Lawrence can be bought off that easy?

Or is this Social Service League move an attempt to shine up their public images knowing full well this is absolute nonsense?

I say these westside developers have been so busy arrogantly destroying downtown economics they have no clue about East Lawrence. In the process they have successfully destroyed westside economics. Can we say they might not know what they are doing?

Helter Skelter development = wreckanomics!

Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

"Can we say they might not know what they are doing? Helter Skelter development = wreckanomics!"

Then again what about the powers that approve Helter Skelter development = wreckanomics?

Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

This coffee shop idea might work. I do like the rehab work Struct-Restruct performs. Perhaps this plan will move forward.

Frank A Janzen 6 years, 6 months ago

I live two blocks from the Lawrence Community Theater. With the move of Theater Lawrence to the far west side of town, their ticket prices are sure to rise, and I probably will not want to make the drive that far to attend. Sad to see you go.

parrothead8 6 years, 6 months ago

It's such a long drive isn't it? ALL the way across Lawrence. Ha ha...good one, man.

blindrabbit 6 years, 6 months ago

frank: "drive that far to attend" do you consider 3 miles a long drive; maybe should ask what you drive?

inthemiddle 6 years, 6 months ago

Is it possible that Mr. Compton is fixing the Social Service building up so that when he finishes his new building, the people inside of it won't have to look out their windows at some ugly dump of a building?

blindrabbit 6 years, 6 months ago

inthemiddle: Maybe Mr. Compton by helping fixup the Social Service building might inspire the neighborhood to clean-up it's mess. I encourage you to drive the alley behind the Arts Center to understand my comment!

inthemiddle 6 years, 6 months ago

blindrabbit: I work across the street from that alley, you will get no argument from me...

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