Archive for Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Abe and Jakes Landing space on sale for $1.3 million

Abe & Jake's Landing, 8 East Sixth Street, is for sale for $1.3 million.

Abe & Jake's Landing, 8 East Sixth Street, is for sale for $1.3 million.

January 5, 2011


A prominent building along the banks of the Kansas River can be yours to use for $1.3 million.

The operator of the Abe & Jakes Landing building — which is just east of City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., and just west of the former Riverfront Mall — is looking for someone to take over his long-term lease after he spent about 10 years renovating the building that used to house a barbed-wire factory in Lawrence’s early days.

“I don’t live in Lawrence anymore and it is just really hard to maintain an active business there because of that,” said former Lawrence businessman Mike Elwell, who now lives in Florida.

Technically, the city owns the 24,000-square-foot building and the real estate along the south banks of the Kaw. But Elwell has a low-cost lease with the city that allows him to operate businesses out of the building until 2087. That lease is what’s for sale.

Elwell has operated a college-oriented nightclub out of the building for years, but he said the nightclub is now only open about one night per week. He said most of the business’ revenue comes from wedding receptions and other private party rentals.

He hopes some type of similar use can be found for the building in the future, but he said he hasn’t yet had a large number of inquires.

“We’ve had a couple of inquires, but I can’t say that we’ve had anybody who has been really serious at this point,” Elwell said. “The economy has put everybody in a holding pattern.”

Elwell said he will continue to operate the business until he finds a buyer. He also said any deal will be structured in a way to honor contracts Abe & Jakes has with people who have booked the facility for a wedding reception or other event.

Elwell said he’s open to working out a deal for the city to take over the building. The city currently leases office space at several location around the city — including for Municipal Court, parks and recreation, and the development services division.

While City Manager David Corliss said he’s aware of the building’s availability and likes its location, he is not in any active discussions with Elwell about it. Although the city owns the building, it would still need to pay Elwell to transfer the lease because Elwell is not interested in walking away from the agreement. Corliss also said costs to renovate the building for office use could be significant.

The building does have several unique features, including 50-foot high ceilings in most places. Elwell began working on the building in 1991 after securing a deal with the city to lease the building in exchange for making it habitable again. The lease does require Elwell to pay the city $4,800 per year for parking considerations in the city parking garage that is adjacent to the building. He completed work on the building in about 2002.

“It took a lot longer to finish than I initially thought,” Elwell said. “When we started, there were a couple of raccoons living in it, 400 pigeons and I don’t know how many derelicts crawling in and out of it.”

Elwell estimated he spent more than $2 million on the renovation.


glb1110 6 years, 10 months ago

hmmm!!!! didn't Old Chicago just close down???? Seems like a good place for the beerfests!!!!!

BruceWayne 6 years, 10 months ago

" The lease does require Elwell to pay the city $4,800 per year for parking considerations in the city parking garage" for how many spaces? how much is Drug Compton paying for his?

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

Who would lease that property at $10,000/mth given the state of the economy?

Danimal 6 years, 10 months ago

Well in that case lets import a bunch of workers from Bangalore and open a customer service center. Oh, wrong "Indians."

KU_cynic 6 years, 10 months ago

The number and variety of vacant commercial real estate properties -- especially restaurant properties -- in Lawrence is staggering:

Abe & Jakes Hereford House (soon to be Famous Dave's) Don's Steakhouse Tanner's Stone Creek Old Chicago I-70 outlet mall Out buildings near Home Depot Masonic Lodge on Mass.

... for laughs and giggles add to the list.

Meanwhile, I see new properties -- e.g, near 6th and Wakarusa -- and I wonder, "Who the heck is going to shop/eat there?"

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

The list is not comprehensive, of course.

And there are numerous empty buildings in the I-70 mall.

The question is a good one - why are new buildings being built when so many empty ones are already available?

cozy 6 years, 10 months ago

I suppose you have never walked downtown either? lol. There are a LOT of vacant places.

Danimal 6 years, 10 months ago

The Masonic Lodge is empty because it's on the National Register of Historic Places and can't be altered very much. Otherwise that prime piece of real estate would've been occupied long ago. It's going to take a very unique tenant to occupy and preserve that building. I wonder if anyone has contacted the Free Masons....

Sorry I'm feeling glib tonight.

LawrenceBoy 6 years, 10 months ago

The old Mason Temple building is now owned by Doug Compton.

pizzapete 6 years, 10 months ago

Joe's Doughnuts comes to mind. Who can afford to pay rent when one develper in town doubles the rent every time he takes over another property?

galfromku 6 years, 10 months ago

Don's Steakhouse is not abandoned... There is an antique shop there now. I frequent it at least once a week....

Scott Morgan 6 years, 10 months ago

Perhaps Lawrence should consider becoming more private business friendly. Right! like that will happen.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

Any specifics on what you'd like to see done?

Matt Bowers 6 years, 10 months ago

I agree Wissmo. It looks like the box stores are going to win another battle and what used to make Lawrence hip and unique will no longer exist. Just plain sad. My money is staying downtown and with mom and pop shops.

tomatogrower 6 years, 10 months ago

Well the new Wyldewood wine store downtown, shut their doors in the Legends and moved here. They must have not found it to be too unfriendly. Businesses come and go everywhere, except in little towns. They close because they can't stand the competition, or the owner wants to retire. There are plenty of successful places in town. We just have too much retail and too many restaurants. It's a risky business. You may want the government to take out the risk, but maybe the business owners and investors need to take the risk. If they lose, well that's true capitalism, isn't it. Down with corporate welfare.

Kat Christian 6 years, 10 months ago

It was a wonderful concept of Mike Elwell when he opened this building, but I hated that it turned into a 'nightclub' and ruining the nuance of it. I'd like to see it stay in the arts and in some public venue, instead of private offices. I wish I had 1.3 million I'd turn it into a theater. Can you imagine the productions you could have on that stage? I hope it goes to a worthy person.

overthemoon 6 years, 10 months ago

would have been a great nearly ready to go home for the Lawrence Community Theater....what ever they're calling themselves these days.

irvan moore 6 years, 10 months ago

it sucks that the city gave Elwell a sweetheart deal and now he's going to cash out and the city gets screwed one more time on a real estate deal. wasn't anybody there smart enough to have a clause that when Elwell walks it reverts back to the city? was Corliss involved in this deal some way back when it was made?

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago


This certainly seems to have been a wonderful deal for Elwell, but not a great one for the city - makes you wonder what happened.

Jay Keffer 6 years, 10 months ago

These comments do not compute - Elwell sank $2MM into the space - why shouldn't be able to recoup some of that investment?

Alternaltively - the city should just be handed a renovated space with a $2MM investment with no strings attached?

Makes you wonder what happened, alright - to the business sense around here.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

He certainly should have been getting some of that back due to the low cost of leasing the space, no?

Jeteras 6 years, 10 months ago

Its on the river HELLO!! RIVERBOAT CASINO! lawrence and douglas county budget problems = GONE! hell vegas style shows by KU theatre department? I dont see the problem here?

BruceWayne 6 years, 10 months ago

CoreLess is worried about the cost to renovate? Seems like a small amount compared to the millions he is spending out at the city owned toxic waste dump on K-10. Time for CoreLess to move on down the road.

Tim Quest 6 years, 10 months ago

Ah yes, the crazy single-issue commenter strikes again. If you can't afford the $1.60 for the toll, you shouldn't be driving.

Tim Quest 6 years, 10 months ago

Ah yes, the crazy single-issue commenter strikes again. If you can't afford the $1.60 for the toll, you shouldn't be driving.

irvan moore 6 years, 10 months ago

maybe the city should hire an attorney to break the lease, settle with Elwell and give him a couple of hundred grand and send him on his way. i like Mike but the city should buy back the Mall and take the whole space for city and public use. heck, they could turn it into a library that has parking. there is something seriously wrong with a commission that won't look at getting back this prime piece of real estate. i'm thinking there is a private development plan for this spot a few years down the road.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

Maybe the city shouldn't have entered into the agreement in the first place.

But having done so, it would be wrong to break it now, in my view.

LawrenceBoy 6 years, 10 months ago

I'm glad to see that space go. I hope that the city inspectors do their job and find the space to be a hazard. Imagine uneven floors, sharp edges, pointy objects, inadequate lighting, more inadequate lighting, unsupervised water hazard. Add to all that alcohol and you have the recipe for injury, or even death. Is there a safety engineer in the house?

Brent Fry 6 years, 10 months ago


You probably are the type of person that had a leash on their kids, had them walking around with helmets on since birth and drive around with foam surrounding your vehicle.

candyapplered 6 years, 10 months ago

Please explain to me how it makes any financial sense at all to pay someone $1.3M to get them out of a bad, long-term lease that they want out of because they're losing or have lost their A$$. He should be paying the city to LET HIM out of his dumb lease.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

It's not a bad, long term lease, it's an excellent one.

And, if he has it, and somebody wants it, he has the right to sell it, I'd think.

If it's a bad lease, then nobody will want to buy it.

eotw33 6 years, 10 months ago

Thats only $1500/month, how is that a bad lease for that building? I would live there for that if I could

irvan moore 6 years, 10 months ago

it's a great lease for the holder but it should have never been made. as far as breaking it goes people break leases all the time on both sides. i can't imagine a city attorney being dumb enough to sign off on a lease like that without making provisions for the city to get it back in circumstances like this. oh, wait, i just remembered who the city attorney was.

Dixie Jones 6 years, 10 months ago

not enough parking for a casino folks. sorry

Jimo 6 years, 10 months ago

Riverfront condos? (made possible by tax rebates)

An Islamic prayer center? (made possible by a secret foreign benefactor)

Office space for our new Chinese overlords? (made possible by tax cut fueled deficits)

John Brown museum (with a special exhibit: 100 things wrong with Missouri)? (made possible by passing around a hat at Allen Fieldhouse)

A library annex? (made possible by issuing special gov't bonds)

Bio-solid energy demonstration site? (made possible by stimulus spending)

greenworld 6 years, 10 months ago

Ill give them 1 million but im not going to budge on the 1.3. Thats just to high.

coolmarv 6 years, 10 months ago

I see they are auctioning the contents this Saturday. Pool tables, bronze sculptures, animal heads and all. Should be quite interesting.

Kontum1972 6 years, 10 months ago

mb we can have some fraternity buy it..then they can dive off the banks instead of rubber pools in their driveway....the H2O is deeper.

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