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Archive for Saturday, January 8, 2011

Architecture firm looks to move downtown; east Lawrence warehouse eyed for renovation into apartments

City Commission to discuss proposals

January 8, 2011

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A $2 million project to relocate the offices of Treanor Architects to downtown Lawrence will be up for discussion by city commissioners Tuesday, in addition to a proposal to renovate the former Poehler warehouse building in east Lawrence.

On a night full of development proposals at City Hall, commissioners will hear a plan from Lawrence-based Treanor Architects to renovate and expand a long-vacant building at 1040 Vt.

“We think it will be a great use,” said Bill Fleming, an attorney for Treanor. “We want to take an older building that needs some help and make it look nice.”

The project is asking for some incentives. The largest is use of the Neighborhood Revitalization Act. The act allows the city to rebate all or a portion of all new property taxes paid on a project for a 10-year period. Treanor’s group is seeking property tax rebates that start at 95 percent in the early part of the 10-year period and fall to 20 percent by the end of the period. Fleming estimates the average annual rebate would be about $49,000 a year.

The project is expected to bring about 70 jobs to downtown Lawrence. Currently, Treanor houses its 70 Lawrence employees in two offices outside of downtown.

Treanor also is asking that the city make it easier for the company’s employees to park in the adjacent two-hour city parking lot. Treanor is asking that the company’s employees be allowed to purchase an annual long-term parking permit from the city. But Treanor wants the permit to allow people to park in the two-hour lot for up to 10 hours at time. But Fleming said the company is not asking for any of the spaces in the public lot to be reserved for employees. The annual parking passes currently cost $195 per year. Treanor is seeking an agreement with the city that would hold that annual price steady for 10 years.

City commissioners aren’t being asked to approve the project Tuesday. Instead, City Manager David Corliss said commissioners will have a chance to ask questions about the development. Corliss said a likely next step would be to hold discussions with other businesses that use the parking lot.

In a separate project, developers are seeking turn the Poehler building at 619 E. Eighth St. into 40 apartments. A group led by the Kansas City area investment firm Krsnich Investment Group plans to spend $7 million to renovate the four-story, brick building. City commissioners on Tuesday are being asked to lend support to a historic tax credit application. Corliss said other incentives may be sought for the project in the future. The area is already part of a Neighborhood Revitalization district that was approved when Lawrence developer Bo Harris had planned improvements for the area. That project did not move forward.

Comments

JackMcKee 3 years, 3 months ago

I almost forgot. The city paying to train company's workers. In their defense, however, they are bringing new job s to Lawrence. Treanor is just moving. If I move near downtown can I get property tax abatement too? If I had an extra $50k to play with I could fix one of those old clunkers up quite nicely. What do you say Lawrence?

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JackMcKee 3 years, 3 months ago

This is troubling.

  1. Farmland. The city is on the hook for $___ fil in the blank
  2. Library Parking garage. Suspicions that it was being built for a particular local interest are being confirmed.
  3. 10th and New Hampshire Project. Taking a public resource for far less than FMV to support a private venture.
  4. 8th and Vermont. Appears to be similar to 3. Questions need to be answered.
  5. Treanor. Want taxpayer dollars to help them build a new headquarters.
  6. Special taxing districts.

This is a growing list that has put their hands out to the taxpayers of Douglas County and Lawrence. While it's nice to have shiny new things, sometimes you can only afford to make do with what you have. I don't think it's a good idea to mortgage our future so we can have a few nice buildings downtown. Look at Topeka to see where overly leveraging taxpayers to support development can get a city.

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oneeye_wilbur 3 years, 3 months ago

Would someone at the Journal World be adept enough to write a story about the purchase of the properties where the parking lot in question for redevelopment is?

  1. How many years did it take to acquire the land?
  2. How many properties were they that were demolished?
  3. Who owned the properties?
  4. How much revenue has that particular lot taken in since it became a full blown (almost( city block of parking?
  5. What would the value of the properties be today if they had not been torn down and what would they produce in property taxes?

I know I am asking way too much of the writing and investigative reporting staff at the JW., but maybe there is a head editor and a very good reporter who could ferret out the information.

The next question is very simple: Who owns the parking lot? We know it is not, Mr. Corliss, we know it is not the Planning Commission, we know it is not the City Commission and we know it is not Mr. Werner nor Tom Fritzel. So who is the owner or maybe owner(s)?

It is a very simple answer, does anyone at City Hall care to comment or be interviewed.

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true_patriot 3 years, 3 months ago

In these tough economic times when taxpayers are getting squeezed the hardest, we need a moratorium on developer and investor welfare. It's a great idea to have Treanor move downtown and in boom times a modest tax incentive might be considered, but the past few years have seen a rash of these sorts of suckling at the public teat when we can least afford it. We need to be raising revenue, not cutting it.

I'm assuming the development project for the 800 block of Vermont will also be asking for a public handout, too, like the Oread project, Compton's various endeavors, and now this. In the case of these two most recent, there is a brazen attempt to demand that publicly financed city parking be offered to private business, which is outrageous.

In the case of the Compton project adjoining the parking garage, the city should demand that the investors in that project build the city additional parking elsewhere downtown to compensate for the slots they will be using as a benefit to their investment there, and then this offset parking could perhaps be made available in part with permit options for a downtown Treanor location.

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Richard Heckler 3 years, 3 months ago

Leaving two other buildings to move into one = two new empty structures. where is the net gain?

There are some very good arguments against in this thread.

The 800 block Vermont project? How will that construction project impact the local business establishments? Who is going to pay them the net loss created during the construction?

The city will not gain additional parking. Remember city hall will probably give Compton some free parking in the New Hampshire parking garage. Until we know different taxpayers will be at a net loss in parking.

OR is this the reason the city attached more parking spaces on to the library project?

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Richard Heckler 3 years, 3 months ago

"Because the property taxes do not currently exist without their investment."

Yes it does. Is Compton not paying the property taxes?

This is an existing structure.

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normal_entire_route 3 years, 3 months ago

LarryNative

Short sited? These folks would be creating vacant buildings located in town a very short distance from the proposed location downtown. The proosed project does not create any NEW jobs in the city. Parking is already available for them without any discount.

So if the project is not built, the ability to keep paying property taxes without a discount will continue to benefit the city, the jobs that already exist will continue, and the city will continue to get full price for parking.

I know many others who are renovating downtown spaces and are not getting these kind of benefits. What about them?

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George_Braziller 3 years, 3 months ago

If Treanor has employees who are parking "for up to ten hours" they should use the parking garage and not the two hour lots. Walking four blocks from their car to their desk won't kill them.

I worked at a bank once that had an employee parking lot three blocks away. Never once in the two years I worked there did I trip over the corpse of another employee while walking to my car.

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snitty 3 years, 3 months ago

This kind of tax break is what is called "being business friendly", although since the money comes out of our austerity-budgeted schools and civil infrastructure, it is also called "being community unfriendly". No such special tax breaks should be permitted until our state and local governments have balanced the budget and are running surpluses.

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Mari Aubuchon 3 years, 3 months ago

They are a very successful company. Why can't they pay their own way? Why should we foot any part of their bill for building their business? I fail to see why they can't pay their property taxes like the rest of us.

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blindrabbit 3 years, 3 months ago

Bitch, Gripe, Bellyache: The standard response to anybody wanting to make upgrades! Free bus rides to all those wanting to move to the hinterlands of conservative Kansas.

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Richard Heckler 3 years, 3 months ago

$49,000 for 10 years is about $500,000. That money could repair sidewalks or extend the new eastside hike and bike trail to the river levy

When residents ask for these projects there is never any money unless we are forced to vote on a sales tax increase.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 3 months ago

"The project is asking for some incentives. The largest is use of the Neighborhood Revitalization Act. The act allows the city to rebate all or a portion of all new property taxes paid on a project for a 10-year period. Treanor’s group is seeking property tax rebates that start at 95 percent in the early part of the 10-year period and fall to 20 percent by the end of the period."

What is the policy on who qualifies for such rebates? How is the amount and length of the rebate determined? Why should Treanor get this rebate? Why shouldn't nearly every project in any older neighborhood also get a rebate? If there are any rules governing how these questions are answered, what are they?

I pose a similar question on the parking issue. What are the rules over who gets to buy long-term parking? If Treanor's employees can get them, why shouldn't any business owner or employee of any other downtown business not also be eligible for them? And why shouldn't downtown residents also be eligible?

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Richard Heckler 3 years, 3 months ago

Who will make up the $49,000 in taxes? Go for a 3 year rebate NOT a 10 year. Something is better than nothing. Local taxpayers cannot afford long term rebates or abatements. Lawrence is a very very small town.

City commission should put the brakes on large tax dollar give aways.

Why build an apartment building without providing parking for the tenants? That is not acceptable. Didn't Hobbs-Taylor provide parking?

Don't give away any parking lots or spaces. Everybody pays the going rates.

OR put parking meters in all spaces. Unfortunately abuse of taxpayers is what brings on more regulation = parking meters. Installing parking meters would relieve the meter maids of chalking tires.

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repaste 3 years, 3 months ago

How far from downtown are current offices? Sounds like $50,000 less for the city. Those people are eating shopping somewhere now - this is an unfair subsidy for downtown at the cities expense. Result will show downtown's power in our government.

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Number_1_Grandma 3 years, 3 months ago

All I'm hearing is 'Gimme, Gimme, Gimme' from Treanor Architects. This town GIVES you enough Treanor!

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PunkyPoo 3 years, 3 months ago

They'll eat downtown, shop downtown, drink downtown...

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Eybea Opiner 3 years, 3 months ago

If you think that an additional 70 people downtown each and every day has no impact on retail, you're crazy.

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Steve Jacob 3 years, 3 months ago

Adding an office with 70 people does nothing for retail downtown, just makes the need for more food options.

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