Archive for Friday, February 4, 2011

Lawrence Board of Zoning Appeals approves new Dillons plan

Renderings previously proposed for a new Dillons store at 1740 Massachusetts Street.

Renderings previously proposed for a new Dillons store at 1740 Massachusetts Street.

February 4, 2011


Renderings previously proposed for a new Dillons store at 1740 Massachusetts Street.

Renderings previously proposed for a new Dillons store at 1740 Massachusetts Street.

A plan for a new Dillons grocery store on south Massachusetts Street is still alive, despite objections from several neighbors near the store.

The project to raze the current store at 1740 Mass. and replace it with a larger, more modern grocery store won a key victory from the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals.

The board unanimously agreed to grant two variances to the project, saying the community would benefit from the project more than any nearby neighbors would be hurt by it.

“It does look like a good project,” said zoning commission member Carol von Tersch. “I have a sense that the overall investment Dillons will make will have a positive impact on the entire area.”

Dillons officials said the positive vote by the zoning board was critical to the project. If the board had denied the variances, Dillons’ only appeal option would have been to file a lawsuit in Douglas County District Court.

Several neighbors — both residents and businesses — of the store said they were concerned the project’s layout would create traffic, parking and aesthetics problems. The store is proposed to face north, instead of west like the current store does. As part of the design, Dillons — and its parent company, Kroger — sought two variances that would allow for:

• A reduction in parking. The city code requires 150 parking spaces. The variance allows Dillons to provide 129 spaces.

• A reduction in how far the store must be set back from Massachusetts and New Hampshire streets. Code requires the store to be set back 25 feet from the streets. The variance eliminates the setback requirement.

“Kroger is a huge company and they are trying to save a little bit of money by testing the limits of the city’s code,” said Matthew Gough, an attorney representing an ownership group of an apartment building just north of the store. “The question before you tonight is whether they will be allowed to develop the cheap way or whether they will be made to do it the right way.”

But Dillons representatives said the company was working to make the project fit the neighborhood. It announced several design changes Thursday, including a plan to limit traffic turning out of the store’s parking lot onto New Hampshire Street.

Zoning board members also heard from several east Lawrence residents who said the store was critical to the health of several neighborhoods.

“Hopefully the interest of the 50 people or so who live in a one-block area around the store won’t be weighed so much more heavily than the 5,000 or 10,000 east Lawrence residents who also will benefit from this project,” Austin C. Turney said.

The project now must win site plan approval from city planners. A representative from Dillons said the company did not have a firm timeline on when construction of a new store could begin.


darktart 7 years, 3 months ago

Hate to shovel that place after a blizzard facing north. Not sure how envionmentally frieindly that really is either, seems like it would take more to heat the place. Oh well "thats My dillons".. the dirt will gather soon again..6th and wak is already on its way.

Hawkfan1 7 years, 3 months ago

In darktart's defense, I think you missed the point. Sustainable practices aim to reduce energy consumption and always consider building orientation not in comparison to the street orientation but to the climate, ( winter winds, southern sun exposure) which is not implemented here. Though, they don't claim to be sustainable. However, architects, weather building a treehouse or a skyscraper consider these elements, among others, as essentials and not simply the cliches "sustainable," or "environmentally friendly."

blindrabbit 7 years, 3 months ago

Ugly solution to Dillons setback requirement; don't think so, go out and look at the stores in the new strip shops on West 6th Street, including Smashburber (and others) and CVS pharmacy. Looks trashy from the get-go with the back doors facing 6th street. I thought that area was going to feature some classier development.

Also, with reduced parking spaces at Dillons and yet more employees needing parking, I can envision a big mess. It appears that this has not been well thought out.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

Good points.

The store will be bigger, and hope to attract more shoppers, and there will be more employees. Why reduce the parking spaces?

gudpoynt 7 years, 3 months ago

Wow. A decision you agree with, and you still find a way to whine. You are a piece of work.

blindrabbit 7 years, 3 months ago

KRichards: A little testy this morning, moron really!! Suggest you lay off the caffeine; it's Friday by the way, time to start winding down, Regardless, those stores look like crap, classy does not necessarily imply Sacs or the like; but this was originally proposed as part of a town center with some architectural refinement. Legends it ain't!

evilpenguin 7 years, 3 months ago

I thought for the longest time that Smashburger wasn't even open! I drive past it all the time and it always looks dark and abandoned. Only found out recently that it is actually in operation. It does look crap having the rear of the building to the street.

evilpenguin 7 years, 3 months ago

Five Guys is the best burger in town you know! And the fries....Holy ****!

gudpoynt 7 years, 3 months ago

have you had the John Blonde burger from the Star Bar at Pachamama's? Kinda pricey at 8 or 9 bucks, but sooooo woth it. Best burger I've had in town. Last time I had one, I was wondering if it was the best burger I've had at a restaurant ever.

gudpoynt 7 years, 3 months ago

not as filling, agreed. And the burger stand is tasty, no doubt.

but if I were the Hamburglar, I'd be staking out pachamama's as the big score

jj14 7 years, 3 months ago

Thank god the stupid complaints of a few chronic complainers did not ruin this project for the whole town! We have all been waiting for this for YEARS. Bring on the new Dillons!

somedude20 7 years, 3 months ago

Bring it on! I am only sorry that for a year I will have to haul my butt over to Dillon's on 23rd instead of walking to Dirty D (tryin to be green yall) but they still have the liquor store that I can walk to (can still be green)

Hilary Morton 7 years, 3 months ago

It's not "Dirty Dillons". I like to think of it as "Classic Dillons". There was a good year when the light was out on the sign for the "D", so then it was just "illons", so we called it "illin' s"

Ron Holzwarth 7 years, 3 months ago

I think it was called "Dirty Dillons" not because of the store itself, but because of some of the late night clientele.

evilpenguin 7 years, 3 months ago

Where will the DD clientele go now? Walmart?!!

CHEEZIT 7 years, 3 months ago

Don't worry. We know what you meant. Looks like the grammar police aren't on here yet!

mr_right_wing 7 years, 3 months ago

I've said this before; in the 10+ years I've lived here, I only went to this Dillons once, and I've purposely never gone back again. Even though it was a long time ago, I still consider that Dillons to be an embarrassment...especially now compared to how nice the others are, especially 6th & Wakarusa. Someone commented on here that even the Dillons in the worst part of Topeka is nicer than the one that is currently on Mass. (I'll have to take their word for that.)

It will be nice to have one more Dillons store we can be proud of. I guess I never went back to that location because it seemed so out of place with all the nicer stores in our town.

Chris Ogle 7 years, 3 months ago

I remember when the "old" Dillons was built. It was huge (in my mind). Part of a strip mall, with clothing store (can't remember the name) and a Raney's drug store with fountain. All within a block of where I grew up.

cmm889 7 years, 3 months ago

Okay obviously the Dirty Dillons is an eyesore, I lived on 11th and rhode island for 2 years and went to that store religiously out of convenience. The place can definitely use an upgrade but the fact that its going to be much larger saddens me. Whats wrong with the neighborhood appeal of a smaller grocery store ( thats nicer of course ) instead of the giant stores they create trying to dominate the scene of the area and making the whole place look like a wanna be walmart...

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

I wondered the same thing.

Why not just clean it up and renovate a bit?

Boston_Corbett 7 years, 3 months ago

It is funny that people are worrying about the parking lot of a liquor store, which obtained variances itself when it was remodeled less that a year or two ago..

When the grocery stores obtain the ability to sell alcohol, convenience liquor stores, as we know them in Kansas, will largely cease to exist.

Adrienne Sanders 7 years, 3 months ago

I don't think so. Have you lived anywhere where they could sell alcohol in grocery stores? I have, but there were still plenty of liquor stores, as most grocery stores had a relatively small amount of space to dedicate to liquor, and therefore a lesser selection than a dedicated liquor store.

irvan moore 7 years, 3 months ago

the Dillons store is an anchor in this area, without it the neighborhood declines.

sourpuss 7 years, 3 months ago

Yay. No more Dirty Dillons! I can't wait to visit when it reopens.

Chad Lawhorn 7 years, 3 months ago

I asked Dillons spokeswoman Sheila Lowrie about that this week. It sounds like the store is still working to transfer employees to other stores while the Mass. Street location is closed. Her quote via e-mail to me was: "We will work closely with associates at the Dillons on Massachusetts Street to temporarily relocate their positions to neighboring stores, while the project is underway."

Chad Lawhorn Journal-World

usnsnp 7 years, 3 months ago

I live right across from Dillons, my front door will be facing their unloading spot for their large trucks and their trash dumpster. I was not complaining about this, what the major complaint was is that with the Drive Thru Pharmacy Window and the new Parking Lot configuration that you would be dirvirting a large amount of traffic from Mass to New Hampshire and the Avenues in vicinity of the Dillon store. New Hampshire and the Avenues are residential streets, some do not have side walks what will be the wear and tear on these streets with the increased traffic, how much more will it cost the city to keep them in repair. I agree that the Dillons has to be upgraded or rebuilt, I am not against that. But I wonder why this Dillons has to have a drive thru pharmacy when the others do not, mabey it is because by increasing the size of the store and decreasing the number of parking spaces this is the only way they can make it work. Finally if Dillon does not take better care of the side facing New Hampshire than they have in the last 25 years it soon will look like what is there now.

Carol Bowen 7 years, 3 months ago

That's easy to say until you experience a similar situation. The impact of changes in commercial areas can degrade a neighborhood over time. We should value older neighborhoods more. That's where the affordable housing is.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

Maybe they thought when the Dillon's management called a meeting with neighbors to discuss their concerns, that they were actually interested in taking them into account.

And, this argument is weak - property owners have rights in mixed neighborhoods as well as business owners.

Beth Ann Bittlingmayer 7 years, 3 months ago

Dillons at 6th and Wakarusa has a Drive Thru Pharmacy Window.

mrjcg2 7 years, 3 months ago

When they tear it down, the Dillons at 66th and Lawrence ave. will be the "new" DD! Its already getting a little dirtier every day.

blindrabbit 7 years, 3 months ago

Nothing to do with Dillons store; but just wondering how Dillons can operate with 2 stores on West 6th?

akt2 7 years, 3 months ago

There also used to be a Dillon's at 6th and Michigan. It is now Anderson Rentals. I don't mind Dillon's, but the customer service is not what it was 15 or 20 years ago. They rarely offer to help you to the car and the customer service people seem kind of snippy. All the store's have this problem. It's probably a generation thing. Many of them probably don't even understand the concept of customer service. Quite mediocre.

mr_right_wing 7 years, 3 months ago

Where is the customer service at the level it was 15 or more years ago? When I was growing up they had 'bag boys' and their job was not only to bag but to take the groceries and put them in your car. Or at some places you went out to your car, drove up to the front and your groceries were waiting for you, and they (the 'bag boys') loaded them for you. I'm guessing when places like Aldi's, Bag n' Save and Food-4-Less came along, and you bagged your own, the more 'full service' stores -- to compete price wise had to cut employees (i.e. the 'bag boys')

They also don't have 'full-service' at gas stations anymore. There was also a day when you couldn't open a bank account (especially savings) without getting a toaster or some kind of similar item. (Back in the days of "Substantial penalty for early withdraw" & "FSLIC".) There were also days when most Wendy's had a 'super bar' and Walgreens in large cities had their own 'cafee'. I bet there was even a time (well before me) when Lawrence had an "A&P" grocery store.

I always experience excellent customer service at the Dillons at 6th & Lawrence avenue...but maybe that's because I'm a 'regular' there...

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

They don't have real butter in taxis any more, either. (credit to National Lampoon Radio Hour on that one, circa 1972 or so.)

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

Actually, at the Dillon's on 23rd St, they often ask if I need help taking the groceries out to the car.

And, you can find full-service at gas stations if you try.

Tom Genereaux 7 years, 3 months ago

Whoa. The staff at Dillon's on Mass (pharmacy included) is GREAT! I'm going to miss them while the store is being re-done.

pace 7 years, 3 months ago

Drive through pharmacy, yes. I like Dillon rebuilding, I am grateful. OK, we all have dreams on other people's dime. I would like the coffee shop to have a drive through window. Ok. me bad.

J Good Good 7 years, 3 months ago

Much of a snob Krichards? The Mass Dillons is in a fine neighborhood and the folks who work there are as friendly and helpful as at any retail store in town. Many of them have worked there for years and know many customers by name. People don't need to be rich to be decent folks.

bearded_gnome 7 years, 3 months ago

consumer1 (anonymous) says…

oops Mediocre

February 4, 2011 at 9:51 a.m.

---lol. Con1, your Smashburger review, I read as a "medicare burger" how 'bout that!

usnsnp 7 years, 3 months ago

As I said before I am not against the Rebuilding of Dillons. By Dillons own study the Drive Thru Pharmacy will add almost 400 more automobiles a week onto New Hampshire St and the Avenues and that is during the time that the Pharmacy is open which will not be 24 HR a week. Also I would think that a buisness that claims to think about their relationship with the community would be able to take care of the maintance of their building, as I said, at the present they treat New Hampshire St. as their alley way, if any of you have any doubts about this drive by and look at it.

usnsnp 7 years, 3 months ago

Except that most prescriptions are filled in late afternoon and the evening, add this traffic onto New Hampshire and the Avenues many of which do not have sidewalks will cause the city to have to spennd more money on these streets since they are not built to the standard of a main street. Also consider this the parking lot will have 129 parking spaces, say you have 20 employees that cut it to 109, if there is an overload people will park in the liquor store parking lot and on New Hampshire St. Causing more conjestion. All Dillons is trying to do this project on the cheap, and the way it sounds they will go to court if they cannot have their way. For a building that is to be an example of foward thinking architecture, it has far to go. A high school student could design something better, I am supprised that a Architecture firm would put their name on the plans for this building. All it is a cookie cutter design or all their other stores, does lawrence want to look like everyother city in the United States. Remember what is decided here will be here for the next 50-100 years mabey.

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