Archive for Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Town Talk: Compton also interested in Ninth and Vermont; Bambino’s moving west; Carter leading City Commission fundraising; new signs that Johnson won’t run; snow shoveling not just for sidewalks

January 11, 2011, 9:12 a.m. Updated January 11, 2011, 3:41 p.m.


News and notes from around town:

• UPDATED. Add Lawrence businessman Doug Compton to the list of those interested in perhaps doing a large project on the city-owned parking lot at Ninth and Vermont streets. City commissioners at their meeting tonight will discuss a proposal put forward by Lawrence architect Paul Werner. Commissioners won’t green-light the project by any means tonight, and Compton is indicating that is a good thing. He’s sent a letter to City Hall essentially saying that if the city is going to consider allowing one of its public parking lots to be redeveloped, it ought to be open to proposals from his group and others.

“If the city determines to permit this kind of development,” Compton writes, “then it is in the public interest to open such development opportunities to competition for any developer that has demonstrated financial capability and who will provide the greatest benefit for the downtown area in terms of retail development, tax base, investment and architectural vision for the project.”

Compton, in case you have forgotten, is building a seven-story building at Ninth and New Hampshire streets. His building will have apartments, offices and retail — which is much the same mix as what Werner has proposed. Compton also has asked the city to allow the project to reserve some spaces in the city-owned parking garage that is adjacent to his building. City commissioners still haven’t dealt with that request.

• It soon will be Italian Food Part II for the intersection of Bob Billings Parkway and Wakarusa Drive. Bambino’s Italian Cafe will open later this month in the space recently vacated by Mia’s Italian Restaurant. Bambino’s has been at 1801 Mass. for about the last five years, but the lease on that building is set to expire. Bobick Sarraf, who owns and operates the restaurant with his wife, Roxana, said the chance to move out west intrigued him.

“We’ve had a lot of people from that side of town yell at us for being too far away,” Sarraf said.

The new space, 1540 Wakarusa, will be about 1.5 times larger than Bambino’s old space. That means a larger menu also is on the way. Sarraf said the restaurant will serve a daily breakfast menu, will add a full line of pizzas and also will add steak offerings to the menu.

Sarraf hopes to open the new location in another week or so, and have a grand opening in early February.

• The first round of campaign finance reports for the 2011 City Commission elections are in, and they show that the money has already started to flow to some candidates. Hugh Carter, a financial adviser and former planning commissioner, was the first candidate to file, and it looks like he’s been making good use of his time. Carter, who filed for office in November, raised $10,900 through Dec. 31. Carter raised his $10,900 from 92 different contributors.

Related document

Hugh Carter campaign finance report ( .PDF )

Related document

Mike Dever campaign finance report ( .PDF )

Related document

Mike Machell campaign finance report ( .PDF )

Mike Machell, a human resources manager and chair of the city’s library board, has raised $2,210, although $500 of it was a loan from himself. Worth noting, though, is that Machell didn’t start raising money until Dec. 27, meaning he collected about $2,000 in five days. He received contributions from 19 contributors.

City Commissioner Mike Dever got the latest start on fundraising. He didn’t start taking contributions until Dec. 30, but he still managed to collect $1,890 from eight contributors.

Lawrence restaurant owner and former mayor Bob Schumm also has announced he’s running for one of the three seats up for election on the commission. But since Schumm didn’t start his campaign until after the New Year, he wasn’t required to file a report this deadline. There will be a couple of more reports due before the April 5 General Election. We’ll keep a close eye on the filings. Campaign contributions are the equivalent of the scientific polls that dominate national elections. They give you the best look at how large and how committed of a base each candidate has. They also can be useful in determining what type of professionals and individuals are supporting a candidate. Look to the side of this article for PDF documents showing the full list of contributors to each candidate.

• The expense reports also seem to confirm what has been widely speculated: City Commissioner Lance Johnson won’t seek re-election. Johnson filed documents with County Clerk Jamie Shew to terminate his campaign finance account. No campaign finance account means a candidate can’t accept contributions, which is definitely not the way you win an election in Lawrence. Speculation that Johnson would not run has increased after it was reported earlier this year that one of his business entities was behind on property taxes in Johnson County, and that Emprise Bank had filed a lawsuit against him regarding a $1.95 million loan that has gone into default. That lawsuit is still working its way through the system in Douglas County District Court.

• A campaign question that isn’t completely cleared up is whether City Commissioner Rob Chestnut will seek re-election. Chestnut officially has said he’s still undecided. But if I had to read the tea leaves, I would guess that there’s a better than 50 percent chance that he won’t run for a second term. But take that for what it is worth. Tea is not exactly my drink of choice. The filing deadline is noon on Jan. 25.

• As the snow piles up, reader Scott Henderson called in to remind people that more than sidewalks need to be shoveled. He said neighborhood residents need to remember to shovel the snow that stacks up in front of the bank of mailboxes that serve many Lawrence neighborhoods. Henderson, who is 70, said it is difficult for many people to get to the mailboxes, especially when snow plows leave a large pile. He also said it isn’t feasible for many people to just skip getting the mail during inclement weather. What also is not likely is that the post office will clear the snow in front of the boxes. It also probably isn’t feasible for city crews who plow the streets to clear the snow. So Henderson is hoping the neighbors will take on the job, and that if no one steps forward that the person whose house is closest to the mailbox takes on the responsibility.

• Speaking of snow shoveling responsibilities, the city will start reminding residents of theirs. Property owners are responsible for removing snow from public sidewalks that traverse their property. City code requires snow or ice to be removed within 48 hours of the end of a snowfall or ice event. Last year, city officials tried to prove they’re serious about the ordinance. Last winter the city issued about 200 tickets and received about 790 complaints. The fine is $20 per day, plus courts costs.


overthemoon 7 years, 5 months ago

I'm glad that a local, established restaurant is taking that space. I hope Bambino's takes advantage of better dishwashing equipment. EVERY time I've eaten there I've had a dirty glass, plate or silverware.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 5 months ago

Every time I ate there, my main impression was that everything was very over-salted.

ksndn 7 years, 5 months ago

It won't last. J World needs to dig deeper into the reason why his lease wasn't renewed.

d_prowess 7 years, 5 months ago

Why would Bambino's ever move out there? That spot seems cursed and I am starting to think that the West side of town is filled with too many families that don't go out to eat enough to support restaurants out there. Think of everything that opened and closed out there!

julieanderson 7 years, 5 months ago

Believe it or not, us west-siders do go out to eat. It would help if a restaurant with some quality food would move in!

Hoots 7 years, 5 months ago

They eat at places that serve good food. Jade Garden has been in West Lawrence for over 20 years. El Mezcal seems to be doing fine in that mall.

debbi 7 years, 5 months ago

It's definitely been there longer than 5 years. My best friend worked there while we were in college, which would have been around 96/97/98. It's changed ownership various times, maybe that's where the discrepancy is.

pizzapete 7 years, 5 months ago

Yea, it has been there about 15 years, but it has a new owner now and is called Bambino's at the Grove or something.

overthemoon 7 years, 5 months ago

We went there once to take advantage of a school donation night when the child was in grade school Same child will graduate from KU this spring....

julz 7 years, 5 months ago

much longer indeed, I'm sure I was eating there back in 2000 if not earlier

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

In our experience, Bambino's is an ok, relatively inexpensive place to eat.

If they move out west, though, they'll be a lot farther for us to get to, and we probably won't go there much at all.

Oh well.

superduper 7 years, 5 months ago

Unfortunately, I'll give them 6 months. I think the rent there is something like 15k. If two sports bars in a row couldn't make it in this town then nothing will. There's no other big draw to that strip than food really.

Good luck.

Kelly Johnson 7 years, 5 months ago

I can remember taking my son to Bambinos when he WAS a bambino...and he was born in 1993, so that place has been there a lot longer than five years. I haven't eaten there in years because of the location, but I will definitely check it out in the new location. We go to the Wakarusa location of El Mezcal (or Elmer's Cow, as my nephew calls it) every 3 weeks or so.

I know it was most recently Mia's, and then Zig and Mac's before that - what was the sports bar there before that? Tanners?

StirrrThePot 7 years, 5 months ago

Yes, it was Tanner's.

I never went to any of them because I live on the extreme SE side of Lawrence.

he_who_knows_all 7 years, 5 months ago

But you never blink about driving to O.P. to eat from the extreme SE side of Lawrence do you? (probably the same amount of time and more miles too)

7 years, 5 months ago

excellent work chad on you reporting about campaign contributions and having links to each report. :-)

Kris_H 7 years, 5 months ago

Interesting, this: "Campaign contributions are the equivalent of the scientific polls that dominate national elections. They give you the best look at how large and how committed of a base each candidate has." judge how committed people are by how much money they have to buy a candidate with?

That's a real shame.

Catalano 7 years, 5 months ago

Yo Chad...what's the deadline to file to run for CC and School Board?

Chad Lawhorn 7 years, 5 months ago

Noon on Jan. 25. Chad Lawhorn Journal-World

somedude20 7 years, 5 months ago

Agreed very gross. First time spaghetti was way under cooked. The garlic bread was just some cheap bread with a garlic butter like grease (just thinking of it brings back the taste). Second time I figured it would be hard for them to mess up a meatball hoagie and I was wrong. The globs of dead meat were so burnt that not even William Perterson from CSI could tell the meat of origin. Last time I went (not my choice) I orderd the chicken parm and that was the straw people. The meal was two small strips of chicken ( served cold) on another bed of dying spaghetti and was about $13. That was it done fool me twice (like I said the third time was not me and the person I was with disliked her meal as much as I did) They did have good margaritias though

Bladerunner 7 years, 5 months ago

I thought it was Bambinos at the Grove. If so....Grove of what? That little tree between the two buildings? Will the new location have more trees?

I disagree that the location is cursed. But I do believe the rent on the property is too high for anything to survive but the most popular restaurant.

Scott Morgan 7 years, 5 months ago

Bambinos and the Grove are not the same duckie. The new owners who have been there for a few years really revamped the place.

One of our favorite places, give it a try.

sissezz 7 years, 5 months ago

OOOOOO i ate there once... ordered the angel hair pasta..... and it came with REAL hair!! Im not kidding either..... :(

Danielle Brunin 7 years, 5 months ago

Yours came with real hair? Oh man, I just got a metal staple in mine. Some people have all the luck. Seriously though, I haven't been back...

Bob Forer 7 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for the campaign reports. Very interesting information. Based on the contributions, the three candidates with reports generally seem to represent the wealthy business and development interests of Lawrence. Dever's report is especially transparent. Most of his contributors are listed as being in the Real Estate Business. Surprise, surprise.

I started to do little internet research on the contributors, starting with Ed Carter. Its amazing what you can find on the internet, including employment, profession, and home values. The home values are especially enlightening. These contributors are mostly upper middle and upper class, people, hardly representative of the "typical" Lawrencian.

Here's my partial list on Carter (I started at the top of his list). Still have a long way to go. Would appreciate any research help I can get so we can do a thorough job so the voting public is fully informed before casting their ballots. PM me if you are interested in helping.

If you really want to know where a candidate stands, don't read yard signs or trust the Journal World. Just follow the money.

Glassman, Arthur 5016 SW Redbud Court, Topeka $335,400 Attorney and Partner in Big Topeka Law Firm

Kern Marketing Group 1009 Columbine Ct $277,320 Mark Kern, President

Leon Fales 4216 WHEAT STATE ST 236,740

Dale Roubison 3814 Elizabeth Ct. Unavailable Owner, Laser Pest Control

Ed Carter 4100 Wimbledon 447,500 Retired Exec.

Dan Huston 721 Mississippi 255,380 Electrical Contrator

Chad Lippelgoss Real Estate W. 139 Terrace, Leawood 579,600

Judith Wright 4513 TURNBERRY DR 382,920 Director, Chancellor's Club, KU Endowment Assn Husband Jack prominent KU Prof

Granted, its a small sample, but the average home valuation of the partial list on Ed Carter is $359,000,. I recognize a lot of the names and addresses, so trust me, the trend will continue as the sample size ncreases.

My tentative conclusion: The golden rule is alive and well in Lawrence. He who owns the gold, rules.

Bob Forer 7 years, 5 months ago

P.S. Do you think its proper for a candidate to accept contributions from folks who don't even live in Lawrence? And i am not talking about a ten dollar contribution from a candidate's sister who lives in Boise, Idaho. I am talking about outside (but area) professional and business interests. (hint hint, Arthur Glassman, a name partner in Topeka's largest law firm; doing a little rainmaking, hey Art? ) Do you think they are contributing money just to be nice, or are they hoping for a great return on their investment should their candidate raise enough money to buy the election.

dncinnanc 7 years, 5 months ago

Psssst.... it's not ED Carter, it's HUGH Carter... different person!

Bob Forer 7 years, 5 months ago

The dollar figures are the valuations of the contributors' homes as established by the County Appraiser's office.

Why do you think they are wrong?

Shane Powers 7 years, 5 months ago

Bambinos pasta smelled like dirty socks. I never went back. They should work on having better food before they try having more food.

irvan moore 7 years, 5 months ago

i think it's gonna be easy to decide who to vote for in commission races, anybody who's not on it now!

Bob Forer 7 years, 5 months ago

You're ssuming that every pimp for the millionaires has already declared their candidacy.

monkeyhawk 7 years, 5 months ago

I was really hoping for a bankrupt, sec. 8 candidate. We need diversity on the cc and what would be better than someone who has never signed the front of a paycheck, but knows their way around all entitlement opportunities? Think of the possibilities...

It's a shame that people are wiling to fund candidates who represent their interests. Seems unpatriotic somehow.

Bob Forer 7 years, 5 months ago

"It's a shame that people are wiling to fund candidates who represent their interests. Seems unpatriotic somehow."

Your sarcasm is nonsense. The real shame is that "he who has the most money" usually wins the election. I was taught in High School civics that our Great Constitution stood for "one man, one vote," not "one dollar, one vote."

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 5 months ago

How many alternate proposals did the city take for 9th and New Hampshire? After all, that space is developing a city owned parking garage...

The response to this letter from Compton will be very telling about the "power" structure in Lawrence.

JackMcKee 7 years, 5 months ago

Heck yea Compton wants in. That's some of the most valuable real estate in Lawrence. Any developer with two brain cells would want in on that action. Where else can you get a prime piece of real estate in exchange for a couple of parking spots.

Bob Forer 7 years, 5 months ago

Who owns the parking lot in question? Good auestion. I surmise its the city of Lawrence, and if you believe in government of the people, by the people, and for the people, that means the parking lot is owned by the people of Lawrence, which is the way it should be in a democracy.

Unfortunately, true democracy left town a long time ago.

But I got to hand it to the millionaire developers. They sure are clever, and their anticipated sales ploy is very clever......Very clever, yet specious:

"Hey you nice citizens of Lawrence, have we got a deal for you. You have 139 parking spaces which, other than a few grand in parking tickets, generates no revenue. Since we're such generous folks, here's what we're gonna do for you. We're gonna build you a nice underground parking space with the same number of spaces, and then we're gonna build a nice shopping and residential complex, which will generate jobs, and property and sales tax. Everybody wins. (wink, wink).

Lets put aside the fact that the lot is question is usually always full. Adding more stores and residential living space will simply increase demand, and make downtown parking more difficult. I am sure the business owners in the 800 block of Massachusetts and Vermont will understand this.

But more significantly, the land itself is worth more than 139 parking spaces. If they want the land, let em buy it from the taxpayers. Yeah, remember us, the people who pay taxes..... WE, the People.

Lets do this fair. Lets get some expert opinions of the value of the lot. Only then, should we, the people, decide whether we want to sell it, and if sold, a necessary provision would be to also replace the parking that is lost, plus provide additional parking as necessary for the added infrastructures.

These developers are very clever. They already have their handpicked candiatees for the city commission bought and paid for. (read the list of contributors in the campaign finance reports referenced in this same article)

now all they are waiting for is for We the People to be stupid and docile enough to not ask the right questions and vote against our own self interests, which sadly, most Americans do every election day.

My late grandmother used to say, "Don't let anyone piss all over you. Open your mouth."

Well, folks, are you gonna open your mouths?

JustNoticed 7 years, 5 months ago

Oh yes, and then they'll piss in your mouth.

dwntwn 7 years, 5 months ago

The City does own the free lots. The properties were private land at one time, bought by the city, at the urging of downtown property owners and businesses and paid for by additional property taxes levied on "special benefit districts" of downtown properties

BobtheBuilder 7 years, 5 months ago

Let the Fritzel's do the project. They are way more qualified to build something nice there than Compton is. Look at what they did with the development downtown between 6th & 7th Street. Maybe Compton can partner with Dave Freeman on this project when he gets out of jail. He has been his partner on many other projects here in Lawrence.

LivedinLawrence4Life 7 years, 5 months ago

Doug Compton defaulting on $16 Million loan for Topeka project

Don't give Doug any benefits in Lawrence until he cleans up his mess on projects such as this one in Topeka.

Developers for a project to revitalize central Topeka's College Hill business district are in breach of their contract with the city because they failed to pay Shawnee County $130,196.77 plus interest for property taxes due May 10.

That is according to an e-mail city manager Norton Bonaparte sent to city council members Tuesday.

The process of recouping the money from developers with Washburn-Lane Parkway Renovation, LLC, would depend on a number of factors, Bonaparte wrote.

"First, the developer is currently in default under its loan obligations in excess of $16 million to the private bank group led by CoreFirst," he wrote. "In the event default of the loans is not remedied, the private bank group may move to foreclose on the property or appoint a receiver."

The e-mail said that because tax revenues from the College Hill project have been well below the debt service due for the TIF bonds, the city has been forced to supplement the College Hill debt service payment by $271,871 for 2009 while for 2010, the supplement would be $334,656 if the city made the development's outstanding property tax payment and about $204,000 if the developer paid it.

"There is no mechanism under the redevelopment agreement to recoup the lack of sales tax generated in the TIF district," Bonaparte wrote.

JackMcKee 7 years, 5 months ago

Asking for TIF to develop that parking lot would be absolutely ridiculous. Let the developer get their own financing and make them pay FMV for the property.

deec 7 years, 5 months ago

Agreed. And if he wants to use the parking garage for his apts., let him buy that structure, cash on the barrelhead, for fair market value as well.

Bob Forer 7 years, 5 months ago

Pedal Hopper Taxi (Sung to the tune of Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell)

They dug up some asphalt To put in an underground lot With a supermarket and condos And a few swinging hot spots on top. Don't it always seem to go That you don't know what you've got Till it's underground They dug up a parking lot To put up a parking lot

They took 159 spaces Put 'em in underground places And they charged the people An extra percent just to park and shop Don't it always seem to go That you don't know what you've got Till it's underground They dug up a parking lot To put up a parking lot

Hey Farmer’s Market Get your Ass out of Town Now Give me Perfect Red Apples with DDT From a High Tech Hy-Vee Please! Don't it always seem to go That you don't know what you've got Till it's gone They dug up a parking lot To put up a parking lot

Late last night I heard designer beer being slammed And a pedal hopper taxi Took away my old man Don't it always seem to go That you don't know what you've got Till it's gone They dug up a parking lot To put up a parking lot

I said don't it always seem to go That you don't know what you've got Till it's gone They dug up a parking lot To put up a parking lot

They dug up a parking lot To put up a parking lot

They dug up a parking lot To put up a parking lot

ritoqueen 7 years, 5 months ago

Does anybody know how to contact Mike that used to own Zig and Mac's/Mia's? I worked for him in 2010 and would like to receive my tax information.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 5 months ago

Well if I were running I would not be campaigning for money. I would be campaigning for votes.

The big money spenders obviously have special interests that interfere with fiscally responsible tax dollar management and growth decisions. Big spenders will likely not be the best choices. The best choices often get left out because the special interests do not want them in office.

So why do the big spenders get the most votes? Let's reverse the trend ..... vote in the low spenders for a change. Until we do how will we know. Driving up the cost of campaigns IS likely keeping some very good commissioners out of office.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 5 months ago

The corner of ninth and Vermont should be worth about $15 million dollars to any developer. Plus pick up the cost in lost revenue to business operators immediately surrounding the lot.

Taxpayers should settle for no less and with approval from those who operate a business on the west side of Mass Street.

The concept introduced Tuesday night is interesting. What I never understand is why no one ever reveals who the so called interested tenants are? Who wants to put in a grocery store?

First Management should provide parking for their tenants such that Hobbs Taylor did.

JustNoticed 7 years, 5 months ago

The grocery store is just a carrot that will eventually rot and fall off the table.

Jillster 7 years, 5 months ago

Food quality at Bambino's is VERY uneven. The service, though, is uniformly terrible. I hope that when they move, they train their waitstaff to be more attentive.

I've had some good meals there, some poor meals, but the lack of good service will keep me from coming back.

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