Archive for Thursday, July 14, 2011

Developer requesting city assistance to build apartment building, art studios in east Lawrence

July 14, 2011


A project to bring affordable apartments to east Lawrence is moving ahead, and now it is working to add affordable arts studios to the neighborhood as well.

Leawood-based developer Tony Krsnich confirmed Wednesday that he hopes to start construction by early October on a $9 million project to renovate the former Poehler warehouse building at 619 E. Eighth St. But he also confirmed that he’ll be seeking about $750,000 worth of financial incentives from the city to help make the project work.

“We’re unbelievably excited about the project,” Krsnich said. “We think we’re laying the groundwork for that entire block to redevelop.”

Krsnich has been working on a plan to redevelop the four-story Poehler building into about 40 apartment units since late last year. But in recent weeks, the project has expanded. Krsnich said his development group also has purchased the Vinegar Building — sometimes called the Cider Works Building — that is immediately south and west of the Poehler building. Krsnich purchased the early 1900s-era building with the idea of putting more apartments in the 15,000-square-foot stone structure.

But now Krsnich said he’s looking for a way to convert the building into 30 to 40 studio spaces for local artists.

“We would really like to make this the place known for where the artists are at,” Krsnich said. “We have heard from so many people that Lawrence needs a nice, cool place for artists to work.”

He said he started exploring the idea after several neighborhood residents suggested it. He said he would like to figure out a way to rent the spaces for about $300 a month. He’s also considering using the upper floor of the building as loft living space, so artists could live and work in the same building.

As for the Poehler building, plans call for 33 one-bedroom units and 16 two-bedroom units. The apartments would have an urban design feel to them, with exposed trusses, polished floors and the type of finishes you would expect to see in downtown lofts. But the project is receiving almost $600,000 in affordable housing tax credits from the state. That means nearly all of the apartments — 46 of the 49 — will have an element of rent control to them. Krsnich said current plans call for one-bedroom apartments to rent for about $500 a month, while two-bedroom units would rent for about $600 per month.

City commissioners ultimately will be asked to give some key approvals to the project. Krsnich said he is hoping the city will help pay for several public infrastructure costs in the area. Specifically, City Manager David Corliss has said the city will look at rebuilding Delaware Street between Eighth and Ninth streets. The project likely would include new pavement, storm water upgrades, curbs and gutters, and sidewalks. Krsnich said he also would like the city to consider providing assistance for off-street parking lots to serve the development.

Corliss has said the city should give the request strong consideration, and he has included debt financing for the project in his recommended 2012 budget. But city commissioners will have to specifically vote on the project at a later date before it could move ahead.

The $750,000 in city money would be in addition to local property tax rebates the development can qualify for. The area surrounding the Poehler building already has been approved as a Neighborhood Revitalization Area, which makes it eligible for property tax rebates of up to 95 percent, with some conditions.

The area received that special designation when Lawrence developer Bo Harris unsuccessfully tried to launch a major renovation of a multiblock area of east Lawrence. Krsnich said he’s optimistic his project can jump-start the redevelopment of several other vacant buildings in the area.

“With what we’re doing, I’m pretty confident the rest will fall into place,” Krsnich said. “Somebody will redevelop the rest shortly after us. Hopefully, it will be us.”


lunacydetector 6 years, 10 months ago

cost vs benefit.....i wonder what the anti-corporate welfare zealots will say about this?,,,,oh, they'll be living there....and of course corliss figured this into the budget to reward his progressive ponytailed friends who got him his job.... i assume just like he didn't do for the olive garden people?

lunacydetector 6 years, 10 months ago

third amendment of the lease agreement

"1. subject to termination for fiscal necessity"

that means s.r.s. walks! nice reporting.

Bob Forer 6 years, 10 months ago

“We’re unbelievably excited about the project,” Krsnich said. “We think we’re laying the groundwork for that entire block to redevelop.”

He's a developer, not an historical preservationist. The only reason he is excited about is the money he's going to make if the project is built.

So do us all a favor, Mr. Krsnich, and in the words of Dean Vernon Wormer, "cut the _, son."

John Hamm 6 years, 10 months ago

Just another bleed on the City coffers.

Clovis Sangrail 6 years, 10 months ago

What a nice change, though. Imagine -- Asking for free parking before he started building, rather than after, per the Compton Model.

JustNoticed 6 years, 10 months ago

Compton wanted free parking all along. Not defending the scumbag, just noting what I recall.

pizzapete 6 years, 10 months ago

A one bedroom apartment for $500 is affordable?

overthemoon 6 years, 10 months ago

small one room studios run 480-500 around here.

jacollins 6 years, 10 months ago


Have you looked through the apartment ads recently? I pay $710 for my one bedroom on Tennessee, and that's with a price reduction this year...

Where can I get an application for one of these!?

somedude20 6 years, 10 months ago

wow I have a two bedroom for $525 on Kentucky

pizzapete 6 years, 10 months ago

No thankfully I stopped paying rent and bought a house about 15 years ago. Sounds like you're making somebody rich, is that a Compton development you live in?

Bob Forer 6 years, 10 months ago

"He said he started exploring the idea after several neighborhood residents suggested it."

I wish he wouldn't insult our intelligence with this horse patoey. No different than a politician running for office who explains that "several local citizens approached me and suggested I run for office."

Patti Hadl 6 years, 10 months ago

Ok, how about no more handouts to the RICH. Brownback and every other republican wants to put the kabosh on big government, no more taxes, and handing out to the poor. So why are the middle class taxpayers asked to continue to handout to the rich?!??! If you want to build the project, do it with your funds.

Clara Westphal 6 years, 10 months ago

Why does the city goverment have to yield to the developers? If the contractor really wants to build it, then he should use his own money. Taxpayers are not an ATM.

Scott Morgan 6 years, 10 months ago

Bringing in a reputable successful company guaranteeing jobs with benefits, a big boost in sales tax, and fixing a blighted view on the busiest street is a long long long way from building a commune. The Olive Garden will end up providing positive cash flow for the city. Lowes too.

Good grief could you see our community leaders deciding what art is? Eeeeeeeeeeaaaak.

LHS56 6 years, 10 months ago

Our City leaders are deciding what art is..... Remember the ittle clause that 2% (not sure is correct) of all public financed projects must go for "art."

Patti Hadl 6 years, 10 months ago

If the city wants to GIVE this guy $750,000 in incentives, why not support the local SRS office and help thousands of people instead of just putting the money in the pocket of one man?

giveitsomethought 6 years, 10 months ago

Agree with many comments above. Is it just me or does it seem like this and most previous city commissioners appear to primarily be concerned with those that don't need help? I guess it pays to be a developer in Lawrence. What would be wrong with having an Olive Garden or a Lowes? Even if it takes some tax revenue away from some local businesses, it would still be generating money for the city, Last I heard, something that is in short supply. The city and all government for that matter, it would appear feel if they want more money they increase taxes and charge more for utilities. Consumers don't have that luxury. We have to decide what we want more, and sometimes do without certain things. Some people do with much less than others. Stop giving money to your fellow bussiness members and developers. Do things for the community. Hey! I know, How about some more round-a-bouts? We can always use more of those. Why not fix the roads that are in horrible shape? Just my 2 cents worth.

kansasredlegs 6 years, 10 months ago

Fix the roads with what money? Corliss zeroed out the money in the general fund to do that and penciled in the taxpayer approved infrastructure sales tax as the entire amount for road projects. Lawrencians should be outraged, but as long as Depot Redux gets it's money, I'm sure everyone will be just fine.

Scott Morgan 6 years, 10 months ago

none2, I do not like the current way of doing business, but yes Lawrence does need to sweeten the pot.

At this time just in our little kneecap of the world, Manhattan, Overland Park, and Topeka play the business development game well.

The Mars factory in Topeka took a group effort. Should note a push in the same direction no flim flam group effort with folks working together.

Metro KC Missouri is demanding action in helping keep firms from moving across the border to Johnson County.

Kat Christian 6 years, 10 months ago

When businesses in this town start hiring more of these people, when rents and utilities stop being so high, when medical is available and not so outragously expensive. That is only some of the problems. Grant it there are a lot of people who don't understand how to budget their money, understand how to be responsible - perhaps never taught these vital things growing up and then there is the population who just don't want to work, want someone to take care of them and/or have a criminal element where no one wants them around. Would you? But I would say the larger group of people who need SRS truly need their assistance. What would you rather have people do living on every street corner begging for their existance or Gov't assisting them to live in housing and able to feed themselves and their families? Thank about that and how our town would seem if we have homeless people on every corner. SRS is not a perfect fix, but as long as society chooses greed over humanity we will have a need for SRS assistance everywhere.

Chris Ogle 6 years, 10 months ago

Does Bo Harris riing a bell in that same area?

Stephen Roberts 6 years, 10 months ago

NO way. If you build it, they will come. Use your own money.

but I am waiting to hear from Merrill wanting the city to give him the money because it is in East Lawrence.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 10 months ago

My evolving philosophy is "no new tax breaks, especially for non-local people." But this idea does seem especially suited to the area. It definitely falls under neighborhood revitalization while Olive Garden does not. It is creative infill rather than run of the mill stuff. (Neighborhood revitalization is to redevelop businesses for the purpose of revitalizing neighborhoods.) What do residents of the neighborhood think? The developer should have contacted the neighborhood association.

I guess I am beginning to understand the challenges our city commissioners face. Shades of gray. Not black and white.

somebodynew 6 years, 10 months ago

Agreed. At least this project is in an area that fits the NRA (not the gun lobby) and will actually go a way to revitalizing a neighborhood as opposed to just helping an investment firm that bought land at the wrong time.

And I do believe this guy has talked to the neighbors (previous articles) about the Pohler Building part of it - not sure about the artist thingys.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 10 months ago

I don't know enough about this project to be able to weigh all the pros and cons and state an opinion on whether it should be granted the financial subsidies that they seek.

But it's quite obvious that this is very qualitatively different from the Olive Garden proposal, or those sought by Compton/First Management, and most other developer welfare. So I don't find the knee-jerk "no's" that are the bulk of the comments here particularly useful.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 10 months ago

The corner is prime retail and really isn't near a neighborhood. There's nothing in the Olive Garden proposal that would enhance the surrounding "neighborhood." It would provide another restaurant, but how does that revitalize a neighborhood? If Olive Garden/property owner wants a tax break, they should try something other than a neighborhood revitalization proposal. Under the Kansas Neighborhood Revitalization Act, Lawrence designated areas for eligible proposals. The Poehler building is already in a designated area.

"The area surrounding the Poehler building already has been approved as a Neighborhood Revitalization Area, which makes it eligible for property tax rebates of up to 95 percent, with some conditions."

Scott Morgan 6 years, 10 months ago

...........Anyone who thinks Lawrence is not desirable to live or have a business here is clearly not thinking right...........

I agree, yet we are falling behind in revenue generating businesses. Tax revenue for say a Red Lobster fuels how we keep Lawrence vibrant.

To use a football analogy. Iowa State made some small changes in the total program while other Big 12 schools devoted staff, money, facilities to improve their teams.

Bottom line it appears Iowa State is drifting backwards even though some effort was made to improve. They are losing because they have not kept up with the more aggressive teams in our conference.

Just being last, Iowa State will due to declining revenues begin to cut back in all areas other teams are improving and start a downward spiral of losing.

What we see in Lawrence as keeping our head above water in actuality is falling behind.

Lawrence needs more than status quo, but can through innovation prosper. We have to get rid of this 25 year old attitude towards growth.

irvan moore 6 years, 10 months ago

i think this commission values growth and development regardless of the cost.

tkrsnich 6 years, 10 months ago

Guys, this is Tony Krsnich and I just wanted to say a few things in regards to some of the comments listed above. I understand that there is no way to please everyone here but wanted to reach out and voice what I am doing and why. Old buildings like the Poehler (or like the Chatham in Kansas City) are often times impossible to redevelop without using state and federal tax credits. Proof of this is how long buildings remain vacant/blighted. I understand some developers have a bad rap and probably rightfully so but I'm different and regarded in this industry as a good guy. The artist concept wasn't my idea but the idea of a small group of people who showed up to my Save the Poehler Concert a couple months ago. I only work on historic buildings and often times try to use affordable housing tax credits to build nice apartments while keeping rents low. The majority of the funds we are asking the city for are to update and pour streets so people can access the site. The streets haven't been maintained for quite some time. Up until I read a few of these comments I have felt like everyone wanted this project to happen and have received huge support from the community. Instead of pretending like there are not concerns I felt like I would respond and would like to address them further and in person if needed. What we are doing here is GOOD and will generate over 150 construction jobs, provide high quality affordable housing, a great space for artists to work, and generate tax revenues through materials, more people living/spending money in the Downtown area, etc.... Please call me if you would like to talk about this further (913)904-6747. From the beginning I have met with several neighborhood groups/neighbors and I continue to look for that input. What I would like to propose is setting up a time to grab a coffee or meet at the site to discuss the project and for everyone to get to know me. By the way, I believe one of the reasons Lawrence is such an awesome place is because of concerned citizens such as you and citizens who have enough guts to ask tough questions and call a guy out if necessary. However, I think that if we have a chance to talk you would agree that the overall impact of this project is great. Finally, every member of our development team are KU Grads and my brother Pete played on the golf team. We love and respect Lawrence. I look forward to meeting and/or discussing this further and hopefully gain your support. Thanks, Tony

pmsa 6 years, 8 months ago

In a development world propelled by greed, Mr. Krsnich IS, I repeat IS, the exception. Cities have to play the incentive game. Period! If I'm investing $10m in a community, and a neighboring, similar community offers me $2m of that in an abatement, why would I invest in community number 1? Should Mr. Krsnich invest in a different community? Some would say yes. If that's the case, should the next developer go somewhere else instead? How many large scale developments in the last 10 years have been fully developed by private money??? Anyone? Anyone? It's the world we live in. If you want your community to grow, you have to make deals like this. Tax incentives, tax credits etc. are an established model for property development. This means tax payers are paying for them anyway. Since you're paying for it, would you rather see development in your community or a different one? Because if Mr. Krsnich doesn't utilize them in your community, someone else will use the tax incentives you paid for in a different community. Food for thought.

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