News and notes from around town.
• A new five-story building is being considered for the city-owned parking lot on the east side of Vermont Street between Eighth and Ninth streets. And the development group is using the carrot of a possible downtown grocery store in hopes of persuading the city to give up the 159-space lot.
Lawrence architect Paul Werner has pitched a concept to City Hall leaders for a multi-use building that would have anywhere from 48 to 86 apartments, and 12,000 to 44,400 square feet of office space. The building would also have 15,000 square feet of retail space that Werner has said would work well for a grocery store. But from preliminary documents, it doesn’t appear there is any firm commitment yet from a grocery store to be part of the project. If a grocery were unable to be found for the space, the proposal also mentions the possibility of a drug store or some other retail use other than a restaurant. The five-story building would include a sixth floor below ground that would be dedicated to parking. Werner has indicated that there would be at least 159 public parking spaces available for use, which is the same number that exists in the lot today. The proposal also calls for at least another 200 parking spaces — spread out over two other levels — that would be reserved for the apartment and office uses.
Werner is seeking feedback from city commissioners about whether they have any interest in allowing the parking lot to be redeveloped. City Hall leaders said they have told Werner there likely would be no public money available to finance any portion of the project, but that tax increment financing may be available — especially if a grocery store were involved in the development and if more than 159 public parking spaces could be included in the project.
Information provided by the city didn’t make it clear whether Werner was working for a specific development group on the project. Werner often has been the architect of choice for Thomas Fritzel and other members of Lawrence-based Gene Fritzel Construction.
City commissioners will provide feedback on the project at their Tuesday evening meeting. Check back later for more details on the project.
• Commissioners also will hear a proposal from Lawrence-based Treanor Architects regarding a previously announced project to redevelop the former Strong’s Office Supply building at 1040 Vt. in the new headquarters for Treanor. Parking also will be a major issue for commissioners to consider on that project. Treanor officials are asking the city to allow longer term parking in the existing two-hour city parking lot. Treanor anticipates the new building — which would house about 70 employees — would need 50 long-term parking spaces in the lot. Treanor is proposing that long-term parkers would have to buy annual parking permits from the city. Currently, those permits cost $195 per year per space. Treanor officials are asking the city to fix that price for a period of 10 years for the project.
The project also plans to seek use of the Neighborhood Revitalization Act, which would allow a portion of the project to receive property tax rebates. Commissioners also will discuss this project Tuesday night. Check back later for more details.
• In the third of a trifecta of development proposals, city commissioners also will hear a proposal to redevelop the Poehler Building at 619 E. Eighth St. A group led by Krsnich Investment Group hopes to convert the multi-story former warehouse building into 40 apartments. The developers are not yet seeking any specific approvals from the City Commission, but are asking whether the city would support an application for a historic tax credit for the project.