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.


Jillster 3 years, 3 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.


Richard Heckler 3 years, 3 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.


Richard Heckler 3 years, 3 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.


ritoqueen 3 years, 3 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.


Bob Forer 3 years, 3 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


deec 3 years, 3 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.


JackMcKee 3 years, 3 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.


LivedinLawrence4Life 3 years, 3 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.


BobtheBuilder 3 years, 3 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.


oneeye_wilbur 3 years, 3 months ago

The best location in downtown to build on, city owned land, is: Parking lot, east side, Vermont between 10th and 11th. Why does no one want that space?

A better question is : When will the Journal World interview the city commissioners, present, the city manager, and the city commission candidates and ask the following question:

Who owns the parking lots in the downtown area? Who are the owners? For some reason, Compton, Fritzel, Werner seem to believe that the city commission controls the parking lots? Who bought them? Who? What? When? and Where?


JackMcKee 3 years, 3 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_Keeshan 3 years, 3 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.


irvan moore 3 years, 3 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!


shanep 3 years, 3 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.


Bob Forer 3 years, 3 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.


sissezz 3 years, 3 months ago

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


Scott Morgan 3 years, 3 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.


Bladerunner 3 years, 3 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.


somedude20 3 years, 3 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


Catalano 3 years, 3 months ago

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


Kris_H 3 years, 3 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.


3 years, 3 months ago

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


Kelly Johnson 3 years, 3 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?


superduper 3 years, 3 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.


jafs 3 years, 3 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.


ibroke 3 years, 3 months ago

we ate there once after 45 min we found out the cook had left we were the only ones in the place


Andini 3 years, 3 months ago

"Bambino’s has been at 1801 Mass. for about the last five years."

Really? I thought it was there a lot longer than that.


d_prowess 3 years, 3 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!


ksndn 3 years, 3 months ago

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


edjayhawk 3 years, 3 months ago

Their Sunday brunch is a real good deal.


overthemoon 3 years, 3 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.


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