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Archive for Friday, December 16, 2011

Town Talk: UPDATE: Old Navy confirms it will close Lawrence store; city says pothole numbers way down; $900,000 project to add turn lane at Sixth and Iowa

December 16, 2011, 10:31 a.m. Updated December 16, 2011, 2:38 p.m.

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News and notes from around town:

•UPDATE: A spokeswoman with Old Navy has confirmed that the company plans to close its Lawrence store, although we still haven't heard a date for when it will cease operations. Here's the statement from Sarah Andrus, a spokeswoman with Old Navy:

"We are constantly evaluating our store fleet to ensure we have the right stores in the right locations to best serve our customers. Unfortunately the decision to close a store is always a difficult one with a number of factors that impact the decision. We are making every effort to help employees find positions at nearby stores and hope our customers will continue to shop us at nearby stores or online."

Here's what we reported this morning:

It seems like an unthinkable proposition: A college town without an Old Navy store. But multiple sources tell me Old Navy will be closing its Lawrence store on South Iowa Street following the holiday season.

A source with knowledge of the conversations says the decision already has been made by Old Navy and its landlord to not continue with the lease. Supposedly, the landlords have secured a smaller, national retail chain to occupy the space. No word yet on the identity of that chain. The property is managed by Inland Western Retail, a real estate investment trust headquartered in suburban Chicago.

A store manager with Old Navy referred my questions about the store’s closing to a district manager. The district manager did not return phone calls over a period of several days. Another store employee, when asked whether the store was closing, only responded with “not at the moment.”

Part of the speculation going around retail circles in Lawrence is Old Navy is not closing its Lawrence store due to slow sales in the city. Instead, there’s been speculation that a lease dispute is at the heart of the matter. That could leave open the possibility that Old Navy would relocate to another space in town. But commercial real estate agents I’ve talked to indicate there aren’t many ready-made spaces for Old Navy to move into, and if Old Navy is looking for new space in Lawrence, they’ve been doing it quietly. Old Navy is in about 22,000 square feet of space at its current location. The vacant Borders building in downtown is about 20,000 square feet, although it is configured differently. But there is no buzz going around town that Old Navy is looking at the Borders spot.

But I’m sure several Lawrence developers will start figuring out ways to build new space for Old Navy if the company really wants to remain in town. It would be interesting to see if the company would insist on remaining along the South Iowa corridor, or whether it would consider being a pioneer in opening up some other retail areas in town such as Sixth and the South Lawrence Trafficway, 23rd and O’Connell or the Sixth and Wakarusa area near the new Walmart.

As far as an actual closing date for the store, I’m uncertain of that. I don’t know if after the holiday season means early January, mid-January or what. (With some people I know, there is always a shopping holiday.) If I hear more, I’ll let you know.

• If you end up having to drive out of town to get to an Old Navy, city leaders are at least more confident these days that you won’t hit a pothole on your way out of town.

City leaders have put together new numbers that they believe are the best sign yet that the city’s renewed emphasis on street maintenance is paying off. Crews through November have patched 10,901 potholes through early November compared to 30,472 potholes patched in 2010.

The city also has a system in which public works employees rate the condition of every street in the city. The city is two-thirds of the way done with its third rating cycle. Back in 2005 when the city first rated the street conditions, 31.5 percent were found to be in the fair to poor range, indicating they likely would have to be rebuilt. In 2009, that number had dropped to 29.8 percent. The number of streets in fair to poor condition currently stands at 22.75 percent. But remember the city still has quite a few more streets to rate, so that number is bound to change in one direction or another.

City commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting will consider approving the street maintenance plan for 2012. It includes work in several areas of town, including:

  1. Repaving of selected streets north Sixth Street between Tennessee and Iowa streets.
  2. Repaving of selected streets north of East 15th Street between Harper and Kentucky.
  3. Crack sealing of streets south of Clinton Parkway between Iowa Street and Wakarusa Drive.
  4. A rebuilding of Wakarusa Drive near the Bob Billings Parkway intersection.
  5. A repaving and improvements to Sixth Street between Iowa and Monterey Way.
  6. A state project to reconstruct the 23rd Street bridge between Barker and Haskell.
  7. Repaving of neighborhood streets in the Breezedale neighborhood south of 23rd and Massachusetts. While repaving, crews also may install traffic calming devices previously approved by the City Commission.
  8. Microsurfacng of neighborhood streets west of Kasold Drive, east of Wakarusa Drive, north of Bob Billings Parkway and south of West Sixth Street.

A detailed map of all street projects proposed for 2012 can be found here.

• City commissioners also will be asked to consider a major project for Sixth Street in 2013. Commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting will be presented with a plan to add a left-turn lane on Sixth street at the intersection of Sixth and Iowa streets. The turn lane would be for westbound traffic on Sixth.

The city previously applied for grant funding from KDOT for the $900,000 project. The state said it was supportive of the plans but didn’t have money to fund it. City engineers are now asking commissioner to fully fund the project with local dollars.

The city’s Public Works Department estimates the new turn lane will reduce the average wait for a motorist wanting to turn left onto Iowa Street from 89 seconds today to 27 seconds after the improvements are completed.

If approved, the city would issue new general obligation debt to fund the project. Design work would begin in 2012, with construction getting under way in 2013.

Comments

thinkinganalytically 2 years, 4 months ago

Actually I think those numbers were inflated to cover the black budget of US intelligence agencies.

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conservative 2 years, 4 months ago

As much traffic as 6th and Iowa gets, and the way the city will continue to grow, the best solution for the intersection would be to fill in the valley and the underpasses and make it a traditional 4 way intersection with multiple lanes in each direction. However that solution would be cost prohibitive in the extreme. I do agree with whoever said that they need to add a turn lane from Eastbound 6th onto Iowa at the same time they add the Westbound turn lane.

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oneflewover 2 years, 4 months ago

How about some sort of dividers on westbound 6th lanes and make south lane left turn only and allow North lane to flow constantly. There is really no reason that lane should have to stop aside from people turning left off Iowa and immediately going into North lane (which is illegal) and dividers of some sort would fix that problem. I've thought about this solution for years.

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bearded_gnome 2 years, 4 months ago

Oh yeah! it was Chad's own blog "towntalk" that posted the study just a few weeks ago showing the correct perspective on Lawrence's vacancy rate, and Chad even made a smiling indirect ref to Merrilly in it, lol.

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bearded_gnome 2 years, 4 months ago

•UPDATE: A spokeswoman with Old Navy has confirmed that the company plans to close its Lawrence store, although we still haven't heard a date for when it will cease operations. Here's the statement from Sarah Andrus, a spokeswoman with Old Navy:

"We are constantly evaluating our store fleet to ensure we have the right stores in the right locations to best serve our customers. Unfortunately the decision to close a store is always a difficult one with a number of factors that impact the decision. We are making every effort to help employees find positions at nearby stores and hope our customers will continue to shop us at nearby stores or online."

---Chad, wouldn't this have warranted its own blog, I mean it sounds like the closing of our college town Old Navy is bigger news than the big Oklahoma earthquake, and it harms more people!
lol

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bearded_gnome 2 years, 4 months ago

newsweek?

really? nobody reads that.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 4 months ago

" In the parlance of the trade, many chains are simply over-stored." This economy may not bounce back anytime soon.

America has 9 million or more homes on the market and no jobs for an estimated 26 million. Foreclosures and bankruptcy are still going strong.

Retail chains are cutting back. Talbot's and Border's are leaving Lawrence,Kansas. Then again Lawrence has an over built retail market so stores simply cannot thrive on economic displacement.

The " boom town economy" mentality killed our economy. It will take several years to recover. Our local "boom town economy thinkers" perhaps could apply moratorium discipline.

America is Over Stored

America Is Over Stored ( Do Lawrence,Kansas planners,Chamber of Commerce and city government not realize this?)

The Wall Street bankers boom town economics building frenzy produced a bumper crop of new retail space. But the occupants haven't materialized. ( Baur Farm Junk Food Plaza is a perfect example).

The carnage in retail hasn't been this bad since an anarchist bombed Chicago's Haymarket Square in 1886. In January, Liz Claiborne said it would shutter 54 Sigrid Olsen stores by mid-2008; Ann Taylor announced that 117 of its 921 stores would be closed over the next three years, and Talbots axed the Talbots Men's and Talbots Kids concepts and 22 Talbots stores.

Even Starbucks scaled back its year long saturation-bombing campaign.

But back out inflation and sales of gasoline, and retail sales fell in real terms in the past year. Clearly, demand is down.

And supply is up. This decade's building frenzy produced a bumper crop of new retail space—from McStrip malls built near new McMansions, to hip new boutiques in the ground floors of hip new Miami condo buildings. But as is the case with those McMansions and condos, the occupants for new retail space haven't materialized.

In the fourth quarter of 2007, the national retail-vacancy rate rose for the 11th straight quarter to 7.5 percent—the highest level since 1996, according to research firm Reis, Inc.

With new projects coming online—34 million square feet of retail space will be completed in 2008—the rate is expected to spike further to 8 percent. In the parlance of the trade, many chains are simply over-stored.

Con't http://www.newsweek.com/id/112762

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 4 months ago

If sales were strong and the Lawrence retail market solid Old Navy would not leave that location... no retailer would.

Kohl's could leave as well. Keeping retail out in the North forty likely is not paying back.

Flooded retail markets make it hard on business aka unfriendly to business. This is common sense.

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frankfussman 2 years, 4 months ago

So I guess this will be a second left turn lane westbound at 6th and Iowa, as I do believe there is already one left turn lane there now, isn't there? With a green left turn arrow?

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Steve Jacob 2 years, 4 months ago

Nationally, it's being reported Pennys and Koel's are not having a very good numbers this Christmas, so store closings are possible.

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Andini 2 years, 4 months ago

One less place to buy cheap foreign made clothing.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 4 months ago

Guess sales at Old Navy were a tad bit too conservative to justify a Lawrence location any longer. So be it.

Flooded retail markets make it hard on business aka unfriendly to business.

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Keith Richards 2 years, 4 months ago

East Lawrence doesn't deserve good streets.

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guppypunkhead 2 years, 4 months ago

I agree, NJ is pretty bad. The 700-1000 blocks of New York are pretty bad too!

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John Moore 2 years, 4 months ago

Why do they always forget about some of the street in East Lawrence such as New Jersey street from ten hundred block to the thirteen hundred block where the street seriously needs to be fixed. I sit out on my front porch and watch these cars drive down New Jersey street and thinking one of these times that a wheel is going to fly off one of these vehicle. PLEASE DONT FORGET ABOUT THIS STREET!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Kontum1972 2 years, 4 months ago

they should open a Bar there....

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Kontum1972 2 years, 4 months ago

i miss yellowhouse....wahhhhhhhhhhhhhh....!

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guppypunkhead 2 years, 4 months ago

I wish the city would look at 9th St between Mass and Connecticut- it has always been bad, but now that the city buses are detoured there it is a wreck. Whatever sad little patching they did a few weeks ago is already coming apart. Besides that, there are no lines on that street! People don't know where turn lanes, etc. are!

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John Pultz 2 years, 4 months ago

The turn lane would be for westbound traffic on Iowa.

Westbound on 6th, you mean.

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demonfury 2 years, 4 months ago

"If you end up having to drive out of town to get to an Old Navy, city leaders are at least more confident these days that you won’t hit a pothole on your way out of town. "

City leaders are boasting about the condition of the roads being used to filter Lawrence $$$ out of Lawrence? Really ??? Could they be more ignorant?

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 4 months ago

"add a left-turn lane on Sixth street at the intersection of Sixth and Iowa streets."

I cannot possibly be the first to point this out, but it was not mentioned in the comments above that an extra turn lane for traffic headed east on 6th to make a right onto Iowa Street would be very nice. I think that's been needed for many years.

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gccs14r 2 years, 4 months ago

The City should put in a ramp, instead of a left turn lane. Maybe they could reconfigure the existing road that runs in front of the motels on the NW corner.

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bearded_gnome 2 years, 4 months ago

no Old Navy in Lawrence!

oh the humanity!


Inland Western Retail, a real estate investment trust headquartered in suburban Chicago.

---ties to Jaegerdaddy?

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bearded_gnome 2 years, 4 months ago

it looks like Chad has cut out his uxorial references in these blogs.
suppose uxor complained?

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KU_cynic 2 years, 4 months ago

That 6th and Iowa intersection has been a mess forever, and that left turn lane is long overdue. When traveling west on 6th Street approaching Iowa I routinely move to the right hand lane to proceed west because almost always the left hand lane gets clogged up by someone trying to turn left against eastbound traffic.

But $900,000 for a turn lane?

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 4 months ago

Could be Old Navy does not need that large a space for Lawrence,Kansas which could open doors for downtown. The college crowd might just love that as would many families.

Shopping quietly for the Borders building might be happening..... who knows. Mass street would be best.

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