Archive for Thursday, March 17, 2011

Town Talk: First Watch official confirms restaurant to reopen; facts and figures about county’s real estate values

March 17, 2011


News and notes from around town:

• Fans of the breakfast hot spot First Watch should rest a little easier. An executive with First Watch’s corporate office has confirmed to me that the restaurant at 2540 Iowa St. definitely will reopen. Town Talk previously reported that First Watch closed, but the landlord of the shopping center was optimistic the corporate offices would take over the operations and reopen in one to two weeks.

Chris Tomasso, chief marketing officer for First Watch, told me that is still the plan, but he doesn’t yet have an exact date the restaurant will re-open. But he said the company has made the decision that it absolutely wants to continue on with the Lawrence location.

“No, no, no,” Tomasso said when asked whether the company was having second thoughts. “We are full steam ahead on re-opening that restaurant.”

Tomasso said the company has renegotiated a lease for the location, and that it is now focusing on making some upgrades to the interior, such as new tables, chairs and carpeting.

• There are all types of numbers coming out of the Douglas County Appraiser’s office these days. Here’s a look at several

  1. Despite a real estate market that has been less than stellar and construction activity that is still below its historic levels, the county’s total assessed valuation is up. Assessed valuation is simply a fancy way of saying the value of all real estate in the county. The appraiser’s office determines the value as of Jan. 1 of each year. For Jan. 1, 2011, the appraiser’s office determined the county’s total real estate value was $1.02 billion. That’s up from $1.01 billion in 2010, or an increase of about 1.1 percent. The numbers aren’t yet final, though. Property owners still have the chance to appeal their values. That process usually reduces the total valuation number by about 1 percent. The numbers are key for two reasons: They are one half of the equation in determining how much property owners pay in property taxes, and they are heavily used by area governments in setting their budgets for 2012. I like them, though, because they provide an interesting snapshot of just how much Lawrence’s real estate industry has grown. Consider these numbers. In 2011, the total value of real estate was $1.02 billion. In 2001, it was $644 million and in 1996 it was $409 million.
  2. The total value of residential real estate in the county is $703 million. That’s up about $7.6 million from 2010 or about 1 percent. The total value of commercial real estate is $261.2 million. That’s up about $2.5 million or 0.9 percent. The balance is agricultural ground, farmsteads, vacant land and other miscellaneous categories. Community leaders long have been saying the overall percentage of commercial property needs to grow in order to take pressure off residential taxpayers. That didn’t happen this year. Commercial property accounted for 25.6 percent of the county’s tax base in 2011, which was basically unchanged from 2010.
  3. There is a difference in home prices in Douglas County’s four cities. Here’s a look at the median values for 2011 compared to 2010. Baldwin City: $147,300, up from $146,450. Eudora: $145,370, down from $146,760. Lecompton: $104,910, up from $101,600. Lawrence: $163,200, down from $163,705. Rural: $195,780 up from $191,645.
  4. There are different prices for different styles of houses too. According to a new study by the appraiser’s office, Victorian style houses have the highest median value in Douglas County at $398,395. Condominiums have the lowest median value at $84,800. Ranch style houses are the most prevalent in the county. They have a median value of $153,400.

See, I told you there were a lot of numbers out there. I’ll be off tomorrow, so Town Talk will return on Monday. Hopefully then we’ll have one other number to talk about — 16, as in the Sweet 16.


BigPrune 7 years ago

I heard someone talking about about a Nude Pilates place opening up, but they wanted to put it in one of Lawrence's retail incubator places wherever that might be. Sounds quite frightful, but maybe not so bad if they'll be burning incense. Perhaps the City ("us") can subsidize their rent? Sounds like a real winner, not.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

County appraised value has little to do market value....

I speculate County appraised value is higher than todays depressed real estate market. Of course if the county went with actual market value we would likely see user fees and other taxes go up to cover the loss. Yes Lawrence is a high tax dollar community.

Lawrence continues to add more to our tax bills as they expand expand expand expand as if there were never an economic melt down ...... that is still melting down. Which is to say real estate market values are still dropping.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

New-home construction plunges in February The Associated Press

Builders broke ground last month on the fewest homes in nearly two years and cut their requests for permits to start new projects to a five-decade low. The decline in construction activity is the latest evidence that the housing industry is years away from a recovery.

Home construction plunged 22.5 percent in February from January to a seasonally adjusted 479,000 homes, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. It was the lowest level since April 2009 and the second-lowest on records dating back more than a half-century.

The decline followed a surge in highly volatile apartment construction in January, which pushed the overall construction rate up to more than 600,000 units - the fastest rate in 20 months. Still, the building pace has been far below the 1.2 million units a year that economists consider healthy.

Single-family homes, which make up roughly 80 percent of home construction, fell 11.8 percent in February. Apartment and condominium construction dropped 47 percent, reversing much of January's gains.

Building permits, an indicator of future construction, fell 8.1 percent last month to the lowest level on records dating back to 1960. Permit requests for single-family homes saw the biggest decline. Apartments and condos remained flat.

Falling prices, sluggish sales and the weak construction rate all point to a housing market that is "stuck at a bottom of a steep hill," according to Moody's Analytics Economic Research.

"There are really large structural problems with the housing market," said Dan Greenhaus, chief economic strategist with Miller Tabak + Co. "This is not a run-up in oil prices. This is a multiyear build up in the housing market that is going to take more than several months or several quarters to get through."

Read more:

According to radio news there are approximately 9 million homes on the market. 10,000 in the KCMO metro area = buyers market. "This is a multiyear build up in the housing market that is going to take more than several months or several quarters to get through." (Maybe years as some have discovered when trying to sell homes in Lawrence)

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