Archive for Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Town Talk: Quiznos reopens on South Iowa; traffic signal slated for 23rd and O’Connell; new rules may aid apartments; Grinstead lands job with national humane society

July 12, 2011


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News and notes from around town:

• There is now another way to get toasted in Lawrence, well, as far as sandwiches go anyway. Quiznos has reopened its store in the Tower Plaza Shopping Center at 2540 Iowa Street. As we previously reported, the restaurant closed without much warning several months ago. A sign on the door said it would reopen soon, but that didn’t materialize. I don’t know the whole back story of this one, and I haven’t been in yet to the reopened location. But I did see a man dressed up in a sandwich costume walking along the store’s South Iowa Street frontage. So, if they’re not open, he’s going to feel mighty funny.

• It looks like 2012 will be the year that a traffic signal is added to the 23rd and O’Connell intersection in eastern Lawrence. As part of his recommended budget, City Manager David Corliss is calling for a traffic signal to be added to the intersection. The signal is part of a larger plan to improve access to the former Farmland Industries site on the north side of K-10. The city took ownership of that 467-acre site with the goal of converting it into a new business park. Originally, the city had thought of putting a traffic signal at Franklin Road, which is east of the O’Connell intersection. But now Corliss said city leaders believe a light at 23rd and O’Connell will work better. A light there certainly could provide a boost not only to the Farmland property, but also to the Fairfield Farms retail development on the south side of K-10. It has struggled to find tenants. Currently a Tractor Supply store, an old silo and nice new roads are all that occupy the site. Bill Newsome, a lead partner for the development group, has told me he’s still marketing the site as a prime location for a new Lawrence grocer. Maybe a light will help. It certainly won’t hurt. The light also may end up helping the nearby East Hills Business Park. The city’s plans call for motorists to be able to turn north into Farmland and then connect with a new frontage road that would travel east to the East Hills Business Park. That would provide an alternative to the dangerous entrance to East Hills at the top of the hill.

Another Farmland-related project to keep an eye on deals with 19th Street. Corliss has said he wants to explore extending 19th Street east, so it runs through the Farmland property and connects with Noria Road on the east edge of Lawrence. That could change East Lawrence traffic flows significantly, so discussions with neighborhoods will occur.

All told, the city has $4 million in its proposed 2012 budget for Farmland infrastructure projects. That money is separate from the approximately $8 million that the city received access to via a trust fund to clean up the contaminated property. The city will issue debt for the $4 million in infrastructure improvements, with the hope that new businesses locating in the park will help retire that debt in the future.

• Planning alert, planning alert. I wanted to give you fair warning because I’m about to write about some planning and zoning regulations, which I know causes some of you to zone out. But, city commissioners at their meeting tonight will discuss regulations that could aid in the development of more apartments in the city. Commissioners are being asked to create new regulations for what are called Planned Development Overlay Districts. That’s just a long name for a type of development that gets to have more flexibility in how it develops. (There is a planner somewhere cringing over that simplified explanation.)

In this case, Lawrence architect Paul Werner has asked for a change that would allow the overlay districts to be used on small pieces of property. Currently, they can only be used on 10 acres or more. Plus, Werner wants to change the rules on how many apartment units can be located in an overlay district. Currently, the rules treat all apartment units the same, regardless of whether they are four-bedroom units or one-bedroom units. For example, if your zoning says you can have 20 apartment units, you can have 20 four-bedroom units. But if you really wanted to build two-bedroom units instead, you would still be limited to 20 units. The result is that there is an incentive to build four-bedroom units. Werner, though, said that’s not really how people want to live anymore, and he said an apartment complex full of four-bedroom units will have a different feel from a complex full of one- and two-bedroom units. So, he is proposing that one- and two-bedroom units be counted differently, perhaps as 0.5 of a unit. Whether that ends up being the number or whether the city chooses to count one-bedrooms as 0.4 of a unit and two bedrooms as 0.6 of a unit, well that is the fun that I’ll get to have tonight. But you get the idea.

Also, expect some discussion about how the city can allow these overlay districts to be used on smaller properties, without opening up the possibility of redeveloping small lots in fairly traditional neighborhoods. The request is largely being driven by the desire to start redeveloping some properties in the Oread neighborhood, but technically the tool could be used all over the city. Also, expect some discussion about whether parking standards will need to be tweaked if the city changes how apartment units are counted.

• All right, everybody else can wake up now. We’ll talk about puppies, kittens and other cuddly things. (Compete with that, planning.) I’m sure you remember the somewhat messy parting of company between the Lawrence Humane Society and former director Midge Grinstead in March. Well, just like a cat, Grinstead has landed on her feet. She confirmed to me that she has taken a job with the Humane Society of the United States. Grinstead started last month as its Kansas state director. That means Grinstead will get to help shelters across the state deal with technical issues. It also means she’ll be spending a lot more time in Topeka lobbying legislators in regards to animal cruelty laws and other such issues.

“I’m excited about it,” Grinstead said. “It is all the stuff I really loved doing in Lawrence. My job was always to serve Lawrence and Douglas County, but sometimes it was hard for me to not do outreach into other communities while I was there.”

Grinstead recently just got back from Atchison and Doniphan counties where she was giving advice to folks on how to deal with animals that may have suffered from flooding. Who would have thought?


gatekeeper 6 years, 10 months ago

Yeah Midge!!!! The idiot board directors that worked so hard to get rid of you because you actually stood up to them can now suck it!

the_realest_mccoy 6 years, 10 months ago

The previous Quiznos owner was a doctor from Wichita who didn't have the time to put into running a business in Lawrence. But the quality of the product wasn't bad. I was happy to see the store was open again. Unfortunately, after having tried the new store, I would rather eat cat barf than try another one of those disgusting sandwiches. Seriouzly.

cabella 6 years, 10 months ago

putting a frontage road between farmland and east hills... isn`t there a couple of old gravesites in that area?

KansasPerson 6 years, 10 months ago

Actually it is a ten-acre site, not just a couple of graves. And it is still owned by the Archdiocese of Kansas City.

Paula Kissinger 6 years, 10 months ago

Midge did an outstanding job at the LHS and will accomplish so many good things in her new position. She has been underappreciated but now will be seen for all the good she does. WTG girl !

Nonsense 6 years, 10 months ago

Midge was not an angel. She burned more bridges in Lawrence than most people know. Yes, she loves animals, but she was usually dishonest in her dealings with everyone else.

gatekeeper 6 years, 10 months ago

And compared to the current board, she was an angel. The only reason she isn't still there is because she stood up to the corrupt board members. The current board doesn't put the well being of the animals first. They only care about themselves.

Hmmmm - I wonder why the current board voted to change the length of terms they serve recently. It's because they know us donors were going to vote them out.

Go sit it on some meetings and you'll see. Speak to former board members who have left because of what Hack is doing. Speak to donors that the board has refused to take money from because the donors have expressed their unhappiness with the direction the board is taking the shelter.

squarepusher 6 years, 10 months ago

Re: Quizno's

Didn't miss it. Will miss, however, the Wakarusa & 6th CD Tradepost.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 10 months ago

The bottom line is Lawrence,Kansas needs more bedrooms like it needs more warehouses,like it needs more retail shopping.

Empty bedrooms spend no money in Lawrence = do not pay back what they cost in services from the city of Lawrence and Douglas County. Economic displacement is a tax dollar money hole.

Some people in this town need to find something else to do besides cost Lawrence taxpayers more and more and more money. AGAIN Economic displacement is a tax dollar money hole.

Vinny1 6 years, 10 months ago

Depends. Apts in the Oread neighborhood would be in high demand.

Also, depending on the seriousness with which the city is approaching their "3 person" rule in houses, apartments may be in far higher demand soon.

Vinny1 6 years, 10 months ago

uh...duh. The places there now are in high demand and they are in horrible shape. Its a college area. Great location with proximity to campus, the stadium, bars and food.

New places would make a killing there.

deec 6 years, 10 months ago

Maybe they are also cheaper than the new apts. would be, which might be part of why they are popular?

Richard Heckler 6 years, 10 months ago

"The city will issue debt for the $4 million in infrastructure improvements, with the hope that new businesses locating in the park will help retire that debt in the future. "

Don't expect any quick return on this $4 million. We'll be lucky if $4 million is all that will be spent. There simply is no market for this project as yet and may not be for years.

Jonathan Fox 6 years, 10 months ago

I agree that more than $4 million is going to be spent on this project, but I wouldn't be so quick to assume that there isn't a market for the project to develop.

WhiteDog 6 years, 10 months ago

I'm happy for Midge and wish her the best.

KUGreenMachine 6 years, 10 months ago

And in other news, you do not need to call ahead when going up to the Little Ceasers drive thru window...

Shelley Bock 6 years, 10 months ago

Good for Midge. My dealings with her were always positive. Hope the best for her.

jjt 6 years, 10 months ago

Quiznos on Iowa. I went in there once and the guy started to make me a sandwich then he sneezed on it and continued on, my wife and I were so grossed out we just walked out and never went back. Midge, good for her getting another job and lets all hope the new boss at the humane society works out.

alor 6 years, 10 months ago

Another way to improve traffic control along K-10 entering Lawrence from the east is to drop the speed limit. This could be done with the simple addition of "5"s over the "6"s on the 65mph signs to make it 55mph. Many don't slow down by five miles an hour, but they might be inclined to slow down 15 miles an hour (from 70mph). Minimal cost to the city/county. Then have a policeman or sheriff park out there for a week or two and ticket speeders.

schula 6 years, 10 months ago

Way to go Midge! So happy that you landed on your feet!

pace 6 years, 10 months ago

I am glad they are looking at extending E.19th. st. Needs to be done.

Jonathan Fox 6 years, 10 months ago

Agreed, if that area is going to be developed, it deserves better access than from K-10.

youngjayhawk 6 years, 10 months ago

Great news about Midge and not too surprising ... Lawrence lost a good one there.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 10 months ago

An overlay district sounds like the old planned unit development. It does allow more flexibility. That means flexibility to allow a creative development. The overlay district is not just to increase density. Developers need to have a more imaginative and comprehensive plan that integrates with adjacent land use.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 10 months ago

P.S. Developers should build in the appropriate zones. Why do they always request variances?

SpicePirate 6 years, 10 months ago

I'm very curious to know how Corliss plans to place a frontage road across a cemetery. They would have to destroy, at least, twice the amount of space the road would take up.

That's pretty standard, when laying down a new road... That we don't need... As there is nothing there that doesn't already have at least THREE access points... and they can't even get people interested in the area they've already fouled up...

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