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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

Steve Jacob 3 years, 7 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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Danimal 3 years, 7 months ago

Don't forget about parking.

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repaste 3 years, 7 months ago

They are eating, shopping somewhere. They wont spend more money.

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PunkyPoo 3 years, 7 months ago

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

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3 years, 7 months ago

Would you refuse to put wood into a wood stove until it gives you warmth? To get a revitalized East side, it is worth putting resources into it. The good questions are when? How much? For what?

If you want to understand economic issues and have fun gaining the understanding, I recommend "Naked Economics" by Wheelan.

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repaste 3 years, 7 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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repaste 3 years, 7 months ago

That's $500,000. By his estimate, not fact. How much city money has Treanor collected over years?

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Jake Hess 3 years, 7 months ago

Repaste, they currently occupy the old Movie Gallery building at 6th and Florida. I helped install cabinets there when it was being renovated for Treanor only four years ago. They haven't been that far from downtown, but I'm sure they'd drive out to wherever they want to dine or shop along the 6th st corridor.

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GardenMomma 3 years, 7 months ago

Their offices are 110 McDonald Drive, sharing space with the school district offices as well as the office on 6th.

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Richard Heckler 3 years, 7 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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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 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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jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

Good questions.

I doubt we'll get any answers, unfortunately.

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somebodynew 3 years, 7 months ago

bozo - I can't answer all your questions, as I have some of the same ones. I do know however (at least in the past) long term parking passes are (were) available for purchase @ City Hall. For awhile they encourged downtown employees to buy them. Now there were restrictions on which lots you could use and of course they cost a good chunk of money (probably excluding most downtown employees ffrom affording them), but they are available. Additionally, the City has established a history (I think) of selling off a couple of spots a few years back to a business. Not sure on that one and too lazy this morning to research.

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Richard Heckler 3 years, 7 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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blindrabbit 3 years, 7 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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whatadrag 3 years, 7 months ago

they're the same architects as in the movie inception

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Mari Aubuchon 3 years, 7 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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pizzapete 3 years, 7 months ago

So someone owns this building and is not paying property taxes on it? How does that work?

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Mari Aubuchon 3 years, 7 months ago

Treanor is already IN Lawrence. They are already paying Lawrence and Douglas County taxes. The owners and employees are already paying income taxes as well. The owner of the proposed location is also currently paying property taxes. Just what will we gain from their move? Is it worth losing $500,000 in property taxes over the next ten years?

Treanor gets more than their fair share of city business, so I fail to see how they have suffered from any "anti-business" policies.

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snitty 3 years, 7 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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snitty 3 years, 7 months ago

"Even if they pay no taxes and build this structure, after 15 years, the new building will have paid $250k in taxes."

what?

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jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

I think he's saying if they get a 10 year abatement, and then pay 100% of their taxes for 5 years, but he's not clear about it.

But 5 x $50,000 is in fact $250,000.

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George_Braziller 3 years, 7 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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normal_entire_route 3 years, 7 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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pizzapete 3 years, 7 months ago

Over 10 years, A. is 60k or more and B. is Zero with the abatement. Let them pay their taxes.

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Richard Heckler 3 years, 7 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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Richard Heckler 3 years, 7 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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jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

That doesn't take into account any possible downsides, both financial and otherwise.

It's too narrowly focused, in my opinion.

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jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

We're also getting a bunch of new apartments on New Hampshire.

And to my mind there are downsides of more people living downtown as well as upsides.

And the buildings that are vacated may well stay vacant, increasing the number of empty buildings in town.

These sort of public/private deals make me uncomfortable, and if we looked back over the last ten years or so, I think we'd see many instances in which we didn't gain as much as was promised.

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flyin_squirrel 3 years, 7 months ago

Merrill,

You are once again only stating half the facts.

  1. Leaving two new empty structures: Property tax stays the same on the buildings they are leaving. City gets a gain on property taxes. Win Win

  2. 70 employees relocate to downtown: More people downtown is good for all businesses downtown. Win Win

  3. City will not gain parking: What good is it to have empty parking lots downtown? If we never push new businesses and residency downtown, that will not be a problem because nobody will be going downtown, just like Topeka.

  4. Remodel (not build) an old building. Only way downtown is going to prosper is if the old buildings are kept nice and current. This block needs many of the buildings updated, much like the 700 block of Mass had years ago.

Merrill need to start standing by your arguements about making downtown a centerpiece and not growing west. Your ANTI ANY GROWTH IS GETTING OLD!

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jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

In between continual growth and death would be a sustainable middle ground.

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true_patriot 3 years, 7 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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Stu Clark 3 years, 7 months ago

t_p, try reading Larry's posts again. This project does NOT cut revenue. It raises it, just as you say needs to happen. The Treanor proposal asks that the higher tax on the new building be phased in gradually rather than all at once, but the city will still be getting more income than it does now.

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JackMcKee 3 years, 7 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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JackMcKee 3 years, 7 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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