Archive for Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lowe’s brings City Hall new plans for store in Lawrence

July 26, 2011


Reader poll
Would you shop at Lowe's if one were built in northwest Lawrence?

or See the results without voting


Lowe’s is back.

After having one plan rejected in October, Lowe’s has filed a new set of plans to build a northwest Lawrence store, this one on vacant property just west of Walmart at Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive.

The company has filed a plan to build a 145,551-square-foot store at the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Congressional Drive.

“It is just a great site,” said Paul Werner, a Lawrence architect who is developing the plans for Lowe’s. “It has all the existing infrastructure it needs. The streets, the traffic lights, the stormwater systems are already in place. You could grade the site and start building on it tomorrow.”

You could, but Lowe’s won’t. The company will be required to rezone the property from its current apartment zoning to commercial retail zoning. In addition to the Lowe’s store, the plans also call for two smaller stores or restaurants — totaling about 7,500 square feet — near the corner of Sixth and Congressional. About five acres of the 17-acre site will be reserved for future apartment development. Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners are scheduled to hear the plan in September. The soonest city commissioners could consider the plan would be in October.

Last October city commissioners balked at a plan to build a Lowe’s store east of the most recent proposed site — in the Bauer Farm development near Sixth Street and Folks Road. Commissioners expressed concern that the store would have been too close to Free State High School and that previous plans for the property did not call for a big box development.

The new site is farther from Free State High. But the property was not planned for retail development, and city commissioners in the past have pointed to vacant property that already is zoned for retail development just one mile west at Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway. Lowe’s officials, though, have repeatedly said that site does not have enough residential development near it to make it feasible for a Lowe’s at this time.

The new site was not available on the real estate market last year when Lowe’s came forward with the Bauer Farm proposal. At that point, the project was still owned by a company seeking to build a retirement community. But in recent months, an area bank foreclosed on the property.

Werner also said there is another change to the plan. The previous plan for Bauer Farm had contemplated the store would be part of a special taxing district to help pay for infrastructure and other costs. Werner said there are no current plans to ask for any such incentives.

“There are no incentives being requested that I’m aware of, and we have talked about that subject,” Werner said.

Many neighbors in the area fiercely opposed plans for the Walmart at Sixth and Wakarusa and also expressed concerns about Lowe’s previous proposal. Gwen Klingenberg, president of the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods and a resident of a neighborhood near the site, said it was too early to tell how neighbors would react.

She said there are residents who definitely want a Lowe’s in the area, but she said concerns remain that the city is allowing too much retail development near the Sixth and Wakarusa intersection.

“I think the neighborhood would love to have a Lowe’s out here, but it needs to go farther west where the city has planned for it,” Klingenberg said. “To put it at this site will add to traffic concerns.”

Developers, though, will argue that the road system in the area has been designed to accommodate retail development. A study by a private engineer hired by the development group found that the Sixth and Wakarusa intersection is operating at 33 percent of its capacity, and the Sixth and Congressional intersection is operating at 18 percent of its capacity. The engineer estimates that Lowe’s would increase traffic volumes at the intersections by 25 percent.


guess_again 6 years, 11 months ago

If Lowe's would look to the existing land use plans, they would not need any re-zoning at all. What is wrong with that. No contentious meetings. No planning commission or city commission approval needed.

Before all the belly aching goes on here about "Lawrence locking out Lowes" or "too much commercial at 6th and Wak," just remember there are land use plans and zoning on the books.

It does not have to be re-created for every developer or every commercial concern, Compton or otherwise.

jnixon 6 years, 11 months ago

YAY! Finally, I am anxiously awaiting their arrival. Rezone it already. Based on the number of existing empty apartments, we need more? The SLT location doesn't serve the incoming business very well as a retail locale. The plans/zoning for the area near the SLT were made years ago when all thought that this stretch of highway might somehow be completed and the expanding city would line both sides of this highway in all directions. Hasn't happened yet. If we as a community are not allowed to change and adapt some of the plans made by 'tunnelvisioned' folks from years past we will continue to miss opportunities to grow. Lowes = jobs! I say go for it!

LogicMan 6 years, 11 months ago

Even better: Build it, and I will buy stuff! :-)

LogicMan 6 years, 11 months ago

City officials (Mayor, etc.): Fast track this one! Investment, jobs, some more sales taxes, and a mood-improver ("a toy store for adults" as a little kid once said). Git 'er done today!

BruceWayne 6 years, 11 months ago

The new site was not available on the real estate market last year when Lowe’s came forward with the Bauer Farm proposal. At that point, the project was still owned by a company seeking to build a retirement community. But in recent months, an area bank foreclosed on the property.

who is the owner now? what "company" was forclosed on? just curious...

pizzapete 6 years, 11 months ago

Ya, I'd like to know as well. Who owns the property where this is being proposed? Why is this missing from the story?

Chad Lawhorn 6 years, 11 months ago

It is owned by M&I Regional Properties LLC, which I understand is a division of M&I Bank. It previously was owned by Village Meadows LLC, according to records from the county. According to the Kansas Secretary of State's office, that company's registered office is in Prairie Village, and its resident agent is Lawrence Levy. Hope that helps you out. Chad Lawhorn Journal-World

BruceWayne 6 years, 10 months ago

any chance Scott Pollard was tied to the failed business?

Ewok79 6 years, 11 months ago

Now I was out on west 6Th & George Williams area last weekend. It looked like they were excavating a large chunk of real estate, & had a pretty good sized fleet of excavating equipment there as well. So correct me if I'm wrong, but why would they be doing the ground work if it's not happening yet because of zoning issues?

Curtis Lange 6 years, 11 months ago

Thats not the area where Lowe's would be building. That development/construction is for something else entirely.

Ewok79 6 years, 10 months ago

Oh ok. I thought that they said west of wal-mart, they they said futher west. I just wasn't sure.

ResQd 6 years, 10 months ago

Too many apartments already in Lawrence, I'm sure Lowe's is not paying much more than minimum wage, but it's something!

Richard Heckler 6 years, 10 months ago

Burlington,Vermont Heading for Retail Overload

The region's retail sector, both a cause and a manifestation of its prosperity, will soon exhibit the "imbalance" of an oversupplied market, says the local appraisal firm of Allen & Cable. And should the national economy further soften in the coming months, "the impact on this real estate market could be more profound," the appraisers warn in their most recent county-wide analysis.

The amount of retail space in Burlington and its suburbs is expected to swell by 14 percent this year – the single biggest jump recorded since the opening of the initial set of big box outlets at Taft Corners five years ago. Most of the current increase is attributable to the Maple Tree Place development at the same Interstate 89 exit 12 in Williston. The mixed-use complex includes 375,000 square feet of retail space.

Some brokers question whether shoppers can meet the challenge of sustaining all the existing and soon-to-open stores in the county.

The national chains and local merchants moving into Maple Tree Place are betting that consumers will have the spending muscle to make this new shopping center a success. Retail space there is almost entirely leased, according to brokers making the deals.

Allen & Cable aren't as sanguine about the impact of Maple Tree Place and three additional big boxes expected to open in the area this year.

"Even under the best conditions," the appraisers say, "it will take time for the market to digest the new supply."

The current retail vacancy rate of more than 9 percent – significantly higher than the average for the past eight years – can only increase once Maple Tree Place comes on line, Allen & Cable maintains. "We expect the market to experience some imbalance, additional vacancies and negative pressure on rent levels."

Richard Heckler 6 years, 10 months ago

At 5:46 PM can Home Depot or any retail operation afford to lose 582 customers?

How many empty retail locations can local taxpayers afford to subsidize?

City Commissioners it would be best for taxpayers if the commission could encourage Lowe's to seek out a purchase of Home Depot. This would allow Lowe's to be successful quickly and relive taxpayers of one more quite large empty retail location.

Are all property owners paid up on property taxes associated with vacant property and/or property under construction?

Flap Doodle 6 years, 10 months ago

I'd swear that I saw this exact same post on another thread of this award-winning website today.

JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 10 months ago

Typically, when traffic engineers study the capacity of a roadway, they only examine car/truck capacity. I would like to know if the "private engineer" that studied the area considered all modes of transportation in their study...transit, bike, ped...My point is that level of service that engineers measure based on "the highway capacity manual" is NOT the best measure of the health of a roadway. It needs to be safe for all users. It needs to be visually appealling. It needs to support all modes of transportation. It needs to tie together different districts within the community. Etc.

LogicMan 6 years, 10 months ago

It needs... Yeah, just like all those other hardware and lumber stores across the land. Get real, it's just a store, not an overpriced library or something.

City, planning, zoning, etc. folk: Just sweep these ne'er-do-wells aside. Git 'er done.

ljwhirled 6 years, 10 months ago

Agreed. I bet the private engineer says whatever he is paid to say. I'd want to see an indepenant assessment before any request is granted.

Some (not all) engineers are like lawyers. Pay them and they'll say whatever you tell them to say.

Grump 6 years, 10 months ago

In my experience, Lowes is a better home improvement store than Home Depot (Meynards is still better.) But there's no way Lawrence is going to let another big-box in that might offer more competition.

Lee Eldridge 6 years, 10 months ago

I have oftened traveled to Lowe's in Topeka to get things I can't get in Lawrence. I think this site would be a good compromise. I completely understand why they don't want to build further west. I'd vote yes.

nativeson 6 years, 10 months ago

If memory serves, the property just west of Walmart is RSO. This is a mixed use apartment and office zoning district with some retail applications. So, it is not as much of a stretch for rezoning than the Bauer Farms location that was purely residential.

Traffic flow has proven to be fine through that corridor. The intersection was designed for a heavy level of traffic, and the City invested millions to scope it for retail density.

Finally, the intrusion with surrounding land uses is lower. The proposed location last year would have backed right into the front of FSHS. This lot is deeper with much better ability to design a building that will not overwhelmed surrounding uses.

LogicMan 6 years, 10 months ago

Sit in the south Lawrence post office's parking lot and watch the traffic coming out of Home Depot. There's not much when compared to Walmart or other high volume, low margin stores.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.