Archive for Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mass. St. Dillons remodel approved by City Commission

The City Commission unanimously gave final approval for a remodel of the Dillons store at 1740 Mass. on Tuesday night. The store was photographed Tuesday in a stitched-together panorama showing Babcock Place at far left.

The City Commission unanimously gave final approval for a remodel of the Dillons store at 1740 Mass. on Tuesday night. The store was photographed Tuesday in a stitched-together panorama showing Babcock Place at far left.

July 26, 2011


It was like it was Triple Coupon Day.

There were smiles all around at Lawrence City Hall on Tuesday night as city commissioners unanimously gave final approval for Dillons to replace its existing grocery on south Massachusetts Street with a larger, more modern store.

“Dillons really went out of its way to help put the neighborhood at ease and make a lot of accommodations,” said Mayor Aron Cromwell, who lives a couple of blocks from the store at 1740 Mass. “This is going to be a real signature building for the whole neighborhood.”

Tuesday’s approval clears the way for the project to receive a building permit, but Dillons officials weren’t yet ready to put a firm timeline on when construction would begin, which will require the existing store to be closed and razed. Company officials said it could be another two months before work is ready to begin at the site.

“But I can tell you we have contractors looking at the project right now,” said Lynn Howitz, construction manager for the project.

Company officials did confirm that work has started to build a temporary pharmacy in a vacant storefront on the southwest corner of 19th and Massachusetts streets. Company officials said the decision was made after hearing concerns from neighborhood residents about losing access to their regular pharmacy during construction.

The construction project likely will take 10 to 12 months to complete. Brian Folmer, director of real estate for Dillons, said the company will put out plenty of advance notice before the store closes. He said the company likely would have special sales to reduce the amount of inventory that would need to be moved from the store.

When it reopens, the store will hardly resemble the current facility.

“I think we’re really going to change the environment down there,” Folmer said.

Among the improvements will be:

  • A store that is about 10,000 square feet larger than the current facility, meaning wider aisles and a more open design;
  • A Starbucks coffee shop, a sandwich grill, a Chinese deli, a sushi bar and an outdoor dining area along Massachusetts Street;
  • A dedicated organic foods section.
  • An expanded pharmacy with a drive-thru lane. The drive-thru lane will be off of New Hampshire Street.

The store also will look different on the site. The main entrance of the store will face north instead of facing west toward Massachusetts like the current facility. The project also received variances that will allow the two sides of the building to be constructed nearly to the edge of Massachusetts and New Hampshire street, giving the project more of a downtown feel.

Several of the design issues — especially the lack of setbacks and the pharmacy drive thru off of New Hampshire Street — created concerns for the nearby Barker neighborhood.

But Dillons made several design changes to the project, including prohibiting vehicles from exiting onto New Hampshire Street. On Tuesday, no one from the public spoke in opposition to the project.

“City staff and everybody involved really did an excellent job of making sure that the facility will be top notch for the residents and for our customers,” Folmer said. “We really think it is going to be a flagship store for us.”


Abdu Omar 6 years, 4 months ago

Finally!!! This puts an end to all the speculation and questions. I hope Dillons helps in some way for the seniors at Babcock Place to get to their other store. I know that is a big question for those seniors who depend totally on Dillons for groceries and the pharmacy.

There was a mention of the Southwest Corner of 19th and Mass for the temp pharmacy. I hope the light on that corner will give a senior who uses a walker enough time to cross the street. Perhaps a delivery service for those who can't get out?

Scott Morgan 6 years, 4 months ago

I will not use the new Dillons more than a few times. I have nothing but joy for those who will use the new store. Congrats. What a treat, seeing something new and modern go into our town. I like the idea of the new HyVee quick shop. I like the idea we are cleaning up the Farmland site.

I'm a dedicated Westlake Hardware store fan and rarely go into Home Depot. Yet, I like the fact it's here. Would feel this way about Lowe's too. Have never eaten at an Olive Garden, but would love to see one here, especially transforming an ugly blight on Iowa.

Yet we have people in this town who feel, the old Dillons Store was adequate. Tuff tuna if you see a product advertised by Lowes, remember Home Depot is adequate. People in Larrytown telling others, hey live with it. Bad thinking, let's keep that sales tax money here in our town, not Topeka or JO-CO.

lunacydetector 6 years, 4 months ago only took a year to get approval to replace their old building with a new building on the same site......lawrence kansas should be embarrassed of how ineffective our city works. 1 year? what a joke of a town!

tomatogrower 6 years, 4 months ago

Dillons has been a good neighbor and had meetings to talk with neighbors to see if they could improve their plan, and if they hadn't done this the plan would still not be approved. I say kudos for Dillons for being a good neighbor, instead of ramming the first plan down the throats of their fellow neighbors. And wissmo, I don't think anyone had any objections to building a new building, they just wanted Dillons to change a few things. Dillons was more than willing to listen.

If it had been one of the other developers in town, the process would have lasted several years, because they wouldn't have talked to the neighbors at all. The neighbors would have to waste a lot of time fighting it. The developer would have had to put up a lot of money to get the proper politician elected who would approve it for them. Dillons just decided to be a good neighbor. They didn't have to buy a politician, the neighbors are satisfied, and our community will get a nice new building. And since they didn't have to buy a politician, they didn't have to ask for tax incentives.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

A variety of transportation scenarios will be available to the residents of Babcock place. All concerned are making it work.

newtongirl 6 years, 4 months ago

I used to be a hard-core traditionalist from living here in the early 90's. But things weren't as run down back then and the economy was much better. I used to yell the credo of, "Don't change anything!"

Lawrence has enough over aged dumps.

It's time to get things nice again. Sure, keep the downtown bars the way they are with all of their downtown character and whatnot. And if anyone tries to change the inside of Allen Fieldhouse, I'll be the first to incite a riot. But there's no reason for the grocery stores to smell like mold and for no infrastructure to be added to accommodate the inevitable growing population of non-college students who have the money to spend on products that add to the local economy - at least in the form of sales tax if nothing else. Am I getting too old for downtown bars and sometimes yearn for a 6th and Kasold atmosphere? Yes. And however wrong some people may think that attitude is, a city the size of Lawrence needs to be able to provide it. Will I eat at Olive Garden? Probably once a year at most, but again, the choice is there for people who want it.

That being said, this town is not a joke. There are enough smart and strong-willed people here to make it a decent place to live even though we're going through a very harsh economical time (like many other communities). But yes, our city government sucks. Good luck finding a community who can say otherwise. All in all, I think Lawrence is comfortable enough with its identity to have a few nice places without feeling like it's the same as JOCO or anywhere else in the country.

tomatogrower 6 years, 4 months ago

And we don't have a large group of people who will just roll over and take it. We demand to be a part of the change that happens in our community. But many of the above posters would prefer that we just shut up and follow along like little sheep.

Irenaku 6 years, 4 months ago

I feel a strange sense of sadness and enthusiasm: my old ghetto Dillons will be gone...the only place you could go if you needed something really quick but did not feel like wearing a bra or touching up your lipgloss...yet with the new Dillons, I will have a huge organic foods section and a clean store that won't smell like week old fried chicken... :)

MarcoPogo 6 years, 4 months ago

Just because the new store will be clean and looking good doesn't mean you have to! Put on your sweats and go buy some Crunch 'n' Munch and toilet paper. Who cares?

Clovis Sangrail 6 years, 4 months ago

Abd if you miss the clutter, week-old fried chicken smell, and poor selection, you can always head out to the Dillon's at 6th and Lawrence Avenue, which will be the new ghetto Dillons.

(I don't wear a bra or lip gloss when I go there, so you shouldn't have to either.)

Thats_messed_up 6 years, 4 months ago

The city Kommission sure is good at spending businesses money. If I was Dillons I would have told Lawrence to forget the new store. Arrogant east Lawrence Slobs deserve the old ghetto Dillons-nothing more. In Lawrence Beggars CAN be choosers. One year to ASK approval to improve their OWN store!

tomatogrower 6 years, 4 months ago

Instead they should be corporate dictators and shove whatever down the throats of their neighbors. Hey, I hear they are looking for more landfill space. How's your back yard? Or maybe your neighbor could sell and let them build a landfill next door to you. After all you aren't a snob. Bring on the landfill.

And, again. Thank you to Dillons for being a great neighbor! That's my Dillons.

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