Letters to the Editor

Revise plan

December 30, 2011


To the editor:

The developers — Doug Compton, et al. — who want to build a hotel, apartments, etc., at Ninth and New Hampshire, next to the Lawrence Arts Center, should comply with requests to keep it at a lower height, such as three to four stories, similar to the Arts Center, thus keeping it within the bounds of that district.

If they cannot do that and still make their profit, they should re-evaluate their plans or withdraw from this project and let someone else plan something for that site that everyone will agree to.


Carol Bowen 6 years, 3 months ago

Absolutely. Lawrence should consistently enforce its codes so that everyone knows what to expect. CVS was built without a rumble. The KMart area was rebuilt without a rumble, too. Both of those developments were within codes and zoning.

There are several code issues with Compton's most recent proposal. There is no setback at the alley -against fire code. There is no transition to the east - Smart Code overlay. Height at the alley should not be taller than the existing structures - building code and comprehensive plan. Even the "scaled back" proposal does not meet code. So, why was this left to the Historic Resources Commission? The city commission should have decided its fate since there was an appeal.

The building is attractive, but it's way to large for the lot. It's "fill-in" rather than "in-fill". If the building cannot be built within code and turn a profitthen it should not be built. The city should not be expected to subsidize a losing venture.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 3 months ago

"So, why was this left to the Historic Resources Commission?"

Because Compton, et al, submitted a last-minute change to the plan. And since that plan hasn't passed through the HRC yet, it must return there before the city commission can weigh in on it.

budman 6 years, 3 months ago

In all the years I've lived in Lawrence, I've never understood the towns selective anti-business policies. Truth be told, the heart of the issue is that people here don't like Doug Compton, which I also have failed to understand. I seriously doubt that an extra floor or two to the hotel would really make a difference, considering the building across the street and all along New Hampshire are of similar height or taller.

And its not like the guy is being inflexible. The plan has been revised to reduce the height on backside facing the alley way and he's offered to renovate the thrift store neighboring the hotel completely on his own dime.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 3 months ago

"I've never understood the towns selective anti-business policies."

The objections to this plan are not "anti-business." They are pro-neighborhood.

ivalueamerica 6 years, 3 months ago

I have never understood people who feel the companies have mightier rights than individual citizens. That concept is contrary to everything I hold dear about this country.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 3 months ago

From the business-worshipping/libertarian perspective, you get precisely the number/amount of rights that you can purchase.

budman 6 years, 3 months ago

Well usually a company is made up of some number of people and not just one individual.

And how is first management getting preferetnial treatment?

ivalueamerica 6 years, 3 months ago

almost too funny to bother responding. In fact, absurd.

budman 6 years, 3 months ago

I think a hotel on Mass st is a great idea. If the many people traveling in for college sports or any other reason were to stay downtown, it would be a tremendous boost to the local restaurants and shopping that can only be found in Lawrence. I don't think that a few people's poor opinion of the developer should get in the way of a great opportunity for the local gem which is the downtown area.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 3 months ago

"I think a hotel on Mass st is a great idea."

Me, too-- and there's been one there since the founding of the city-- the Eldridge is still there.

budman 6 years, 3 months ago

Yeah and how tall is the Eldridge building. How tall is the US Bank building. How tall are the apartments across the street from the sight and the apartments down the street by the shell of Borders.

And lets remember they're reducing the height on the back side of the building so it woun't be towering over the thrift store.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 3 months ago

"Yeah and how tall is the Eldridge building. "

At one point, the limit on the height of buildings downtown was that it couldn't exceed the height of the Eldridge.

Otherwise, your questions are wholly irrelevant to how tall any building on this lot, since none of those other buildings are directly adjacent to the residential neighborhood.

"And lets remember they're reducing the height on the back side of the building so it woun't be towering over the thrift store."

In their latest proposal, they didn't lower it by very much. It should be no higher that the Arts Center at the alley, with a bit of set back, and no more that 4 stories along NH.

Frank A Janzen 6 years, 3 months ago

The Hobbs-Taylor Loft building next to Borders is 1/2 block from Rhode Island Street, not on the alley like the proposal at 9th and NH.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 3 months ago

You beat me to it! I was going to say: "I have never heard of anything "that everyone will agree to."

Getaroom 6 years, 3 months ago

Consensus is difficult at best and especially when, in a Faux Democracy, no vote counts and especially in OZ. But never mind the details so small for it's just math you know.
In this corny field of dreams Free Market World that Ron Paul is hawking - won't it all be taken care of anyway? Oh, look! Another First Management land grab and Voila! The Group owns 70% of downtown or more and they (not Compton alone) will be king of the mountain. When the economy turns around, in say 30 years, and if deep pockets can hold on long enough (with or without tenants) maybe it will one day be a worth while investment/addition to downtown. But no skin of the taxpayers nose - indeed?! No matter if the houses across the street lose even more value because deep pockets can buy those too. Like the Tea Party loves America, in their own image, First Management too is making the city over in theirs. From a mere "Tiny Tim" character of the Mad Hatter days , DougTim has pulled himself up by the boot straps all by himself(well, maybe wife's daddy might have helped just a tiny tim bit) and look where is Tiny is today!! A true visionary of Disney Biblical proportions, Lord of all that can be seen! And on the lands assembled there, a humble castle stands. Through those gated walls there lives an Arch and contained with its hand carved bows are two by two exotic animals with which to save the DNA of - back in the day. With this vision shinning brightly, all serfs of the kingdom are given hope that they too can own their very own city and love it so much that they too aspire to live at it's highest peak to view all that is theirs and having climbed that mountain top in matching shinny new HumVs' - a collective sigh is heard across the Lands of the Almost Free. Ah, fairy tales do come true you see and all it took was a perfect Free Market, fully owned and operated by the few, but not by you! And all is well in the land of the few, but beware, for like all great Empires in time they fall. So you see, it is paramount to the Capitalists Cree "take all now" before the slaves are freed and to Hades with Thou and The. Tea anyone? Two lumps or three?

nativeson 6 years, 3 months ago

This proposal will ultimately be ruled on by the City Commission. They must evaluate the project based on its impact on the historic structures around it and determine if there is a prudent and feasible alternative.

It is safe to say that no alternative has presented itself for decades on that piece of ground. I also believe that the proposal meets a demand for hotel space downtown and continues to augment the vibrant economy downtown.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 3 months ago

Even if there is such strong demand for a third downtown hotel, there are better locations for it.

And if downtown is going to see a significant expansion, there will almost certainly be an appropriate use for the lot in question that doesn't entail towering over the residential neighborhood to the east.

budman 6 years, 3 months ago

Serriously, would you rather see this muddy vacant lot stand empty which it has for years.

And if they don't build it downtown, they most certainly will build a hotel out west or down south on Iowa street. Would you rather see that than something nice downtown?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 3 months ago

"Serriously, would you rather see this muddy vacant lot stand empty which it has for years."

If the choice is between the proposed behemoth and the empty lot, I'll take the empty lot. But that is a false choice.

They are proposing a downtown hotel because that's where they think one is needed. If they really believe that, there are much better locations than this lot.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 3 months ago

BTW, it's only a muddy lot because the owners have chosen not to do proper maintenance on it, and First Management has used it as a staging area for its construction across the street.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 3 months ago

Oops. Somehow I posted this on the wrong blog.

The issue has nothing to do with anti business. It is possible to develop without asking for variances. Scaling back an extreme proposal to a not-so-extreme proposal does not make a development ok. In most municipalities the codes are more consistently enforced, and consequently, there is less strife between developers and residents. I contend that we have a community issue (lack of consistency) rather than a neighborhood issue.

hujiko 6 years, 3 months ago

Simple - nobody wants a repeat of the Oread Hotel monstrosity. Unless of course you are a developer.

The building height was never fully agreed upon, that's why it went from five, to seven, to ultimately ten stories. Also it completely neglected the surrounding campus environment, that's why it sticks out like a neon tie-dye parka in Antarctica.

If Compton can settle for no more than four stories in the front and a greater setback along the alley, this hotel could be a winner.

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