News and notes from around town:
• There’s nothing like a warm-up in the weather to remind you that spring is on the way. This spring it also looks like the garden center market is going to heat up a bit. For at least the second year in a row, Manhattan-based Kaw Valley Greenhouses plans to open temporary, outdoor garden centers in Lawrence. Last year, the company operated one center in Lawrence. This year it plans to operate two, with one of them being right across the street from one of the city’s full-time garden centers. Kaw Valley is seeking city approval to set up shop at 3301 Iowa in the vacant space that previously was a used car lot. That essentially is right across the street from the Earl May Garden Center. Kaw Valley also is seeking approval to set up in the parking lot of Checkers at 23rd and Louisiana, which ought to create competition with nearby Westlake Ace Hardware.
• Kaw Valley last year set up in the long vacant Sinclair station at Ninth and Iowa streets. There is a good reason they’re not going back to that location. It is no longer vacant. The Selection, a used car business specializing in imports, has opened at the intersection. It is owned by a group out of Manhattan, but its general manager is Mashhur Zarif Haque, who was an owner of Lawrence’s Custom Highline. That business along West Sixth Street specialized in luxury automobiles before hitting tough times.
“We would like to do the same thing we did with Custom Highline and get into the luxury car market, which we think is underserved here,” Haque said.
• As previously reported in Town Talk, Vermont Street BBQ is reopening in downtown. Now, we’ve confirmed where. The restaurant will be going in the former Joe College location at 734 Mass. Vermont Street BBQ owner Chris Brann confirmed he has signed a lease for the location. He hopes to open in six to eight weeks.
• How about we get together downtown and watch somebody put the shot. No, it is not the newest drinking game. Instead, it is the newest promotional idea for the longtime Kansas Relays. The Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau is asking City Hall to close off parts of Eighth Street to hold an exhibition shot put event and long jump event.
Plans call for 10 world-class shot putters to participate in a competition from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20. The event would be held in the middle of East Eighth Street in the 100 block. The street would be closed from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. to allow for setup and cleanup.
Then on Thursday, April 21, long jumpers would take center stage for a special event, also from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. But this event will be on the west side of Mass Street in the 100 block of West Eighth Street. The street will be closed from 11 a.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday. It takes more time to break down the long jump pit, which will be filled with bunker sand that comes from the city’s Eagle Bend Golf Course. (I’m unclear whether that means the bunkers at Eagle Bend will be sandless for a day. If so, it is an opportunity of a lifetime for J-W sports editor and duffer Tom Keegan.)
Also on April 21, a one-mile race will take place downtown, featuring several elite milers who will be at the relays. The race also will be open to the public. The race is expected to take place from 5:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. The race will start near The Bottleneck on New Hampshire, go to East 11th Street, then head to Vermont Street and end near the Lawrence Public Library. Police officers will control traffic in the area during the race.
The Convention and Visitors Bureau is asking for a special permit that will allow alcohol to be consumed in the public rights-of-way during both days of the events.
City commissioners will consider approving all three downtown events at their meeting on Tuesday.