Archive for Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Town Talk: Plans call for Gaslight Village to become nearly 1,000 student bedrooms; city undertakes study to figure out future of blue-green algae in drinking water supply

November 22, 2011


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News and notes from around town:

• From mobile homes to lots and lots of student homes. That seems to be the plan for the Gaslight Village Mobile Home Park just east of 31st and Iowa streets. Plans have been filed at Lawrence City Hall to build 352 units of new apartments — totaling 994 bedrooms — on the site that is just east of the Home Depot and Best Buy shopping area. We reported in October that a contract was pending on the property, and that residents of the approximately 150 mobile homes had been told they need to prepare to move.

The project is being proposed by Aspen Heights, an Austin, Texas-based company that specializes in student housing. The company, though, builds “student residential communities” that differ from traditional apartment complexes. Instead of building a few large apartment buildings, the company builds smaller house-like structures. This plan calls for 186 house-like structures to be spread out on the property. The company envisions: 62 four-bedroom “cottages”; 62 two-bedroom duplexes; and 62 three-bedroom duplexes. The plans also include a deck and pool area, a clubhouse and sports courts.

On its Web site, the company bills itself as building communities exclusively for students and building them in a way so that they are “centered around being a house and not an apartment.” The company currently has locations in SEC powerhouse communities Athens, Ga., Auburn, Ala., and Baton Rouge, La. (Maybe they thought we were moving to the SEC.) The company also has complexes in San Antonio and San Marcos, Texas.

In order to build in Lawrence, the company is seeking to rezone the mobile home park from a single-family residential zoning district to RM-12, a multi-family zoning category that would allow 12 living units per acre. At this point I need to dive into the plans a little more deeply to give you a sense of how big this place is going to be. The mobile home park is 41 acres in size, but I’m not sure if the “concept plan” that was submitted to City Hall envisions the project being spread out over the entire 41 acres or whether some of that land is being held in reserve for future development. I’ll check on that and provide an update later today. I’ll also try to get in touch with the Aspen Heights folks, and the owner of the mobile home park to see when current residents will need to vacate the premises.

UPDATE: The numbers have been a little confusing, but I think I have it figured out now. The plan calls for 207 buildings, but since some of them are duplexes, there will be 352 actual living units or apartments. There will be 994 bedrooms. The development will be spread over about 35 acres.

What does seem certain, though, is that Lawrence is experiencing another apartment boom. In addition to this project, construction is underway on a $28.5 million apartment project — called Hunter’s Ridge — that will add 300 apartments to the area near Sixth and Stoneridge Drive. Of course, others are trying to win approvals for new apartments, including a project to build more one-bedroom apartments near Clinton Parkway and Crossgate and downtown apartments at Ninth and New Hampshire. I’m also chasing down information on plans for an apartment complex north of Sixth and Wakarusa near the Wal-Mart location.

• Remember in late August when blue-green algae toxins were flowing down the Kansas River courtesy of our friends near Milford Lake? Well, the folks at Lawrence’s Kaw Water Treatment plant sure do. The toxins — cyanobacteria and cyanotoxin microcystin, for those of you wearing pocket protectors — were a rare occurrence on the Kaw and left several water plant operators scratching their heads. The city temporarily shut the plant down and did some extra testing to ensure that the water supply was still safe, which it was. But there are still questions hanging out there over what happened. The city is teaming up with Johnson County water supplier Water One, the city of Topeka, the Kansas Water Office, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the United States Geological Survey to perform a $136,000 study of the toxins and their future in the Kaw. Lawrence’s share of the study is about $20,000. The USGS will conduct the study. I’ll check in with city officials to find out more about what they hope to discover from the study. In fact, I’ll do that shortly. City commissioners are meeting at 9 a.m. today, instead of at their usual 6:35 p.m. meeting time.


jackpot 6 years, 6 months ago

Chad is this not just east of Best Buy, not south?

progressive_thinker 6 years, 6 months ago

Wow. Just what Lawrence needs, another apartment complex.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

Let's see-- is there a shortage of low income housing in Lawrence? Check.

Is there a glut of "student" housing? Check.

But with this proposed development we're getting a substantial reduction of the former, and substantial increase in the latter.

Must make sense to someone.

flyin_squirrel 6 years, 6 months ago

Lawrence only needs apartments close to downtown. We need to quit building apartments on the fringe of town, and get a larger population base next to downtown.

somedude20 6 years, 6 months ago

Seems a little far for student housing but I guess these guys know better since it is their money. I guess that if the student's parents can afford the rent that they will pay, they can also afford a car for their little bundle of joy(s) to get around with

parrothead8 6 years, 6 months ago

The 900 or so cars that will occupy this complex are already here. They just live in other places around Lawrence right now, so this won't necessarily add to the problem, it will just redistribute the problem.

tomatogrower 6 years, 6 months ago

Really, many poor people can almost feel home ownership by buying a mobile home, but this essentially bans most mobile homes from the entire county.

Hadley_says 6 years, 6 months ago

"...seeking to rezone the mobile home park from a single-family residential zoning district to RM-12, a multi-family zoning category that would allow 12 living units per acre."

In part, this sounds like how we got into that current mess out at Inverness & Clinton Drive. And this is wrong.

If they do re-zone it to RM-12, and only partially build it out, they are setting up a situation to force an additional upzoning in the future... to RM-24 or something like that (very dense).....which is exactly the current situation at Inverness and Clinton. The single family residents there are angry, which they should be, about the proposed apartments out there, which came from a previous "partial" build on a lot.

Which begs the question, what justifies the rezoning of the land from single family, which it has always been, in the first place? Is there really a need for 1,000 new apartments in this town? Do we really want to become a city-wide student ghetto of half filled decrepit apartment complexes?

If every developer can plop 1,000 apartment units down where ever they want onto land zoned single family, why do we even pretend we have zoning in the city?

Chad Lawhorn 6 years, 6 months ago

I updated the article. It looks like they intend to build on the entire site. Thanks, Chad

IrishCat 6 years, 6 months ago

While you're at the meeting, ask the City Officials why INDOOR cats and dogs were getting so sick about a month ago. It had to be something that was being brought into the home, like, oh...say tainted water? $300 in Vet bills later, I had two indoor cats, only a year old, that were very sick and heard from the Vet staff at Dr. Jarrett's office that her office was being packed with both dogs and cats with the same symptoms. I called the City, got no information on a problem, I even emailed the USGS who referred me back to the city..clearly something was going on that we as consumers were not aware of. the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon this morning...I always liked living on the fringe of town because it kept me out of the student activity downtown, it's always quiet in the "burbs", now the students will be literally in my backyard...not to mention additional traffic on Iowa getting to KU in the morning. Iowa in the morning is already backed up south of 19th street on most weekday mornings..was any of this taken into account?

Chad Lawhorn 6 years, 6 months ago

One thing I forgot to note in the article is that south Lawrence already is a pretty large player in the student housing market. The apartment complex formerly called The Exchange (I'm sorry, I forget its new name) is across the street from this proposal. Also there is a sizable student-oriented complex west of SuperTarget. (Forgot that name too. Clearly, I'm not going to enough apartment parties.) Thanks, Chad

IrishCat 6 years, 6 months ago

I think the new name of the one across the street is "Felony Woods". Isn't that the same one that had the shoot out within the first few weeks of being occupied?

Hadley_says 6 years, 6 months ago

I thought it was an outdoor shooting range.

roadwarrior 6 years, 6 months ago

what were the symptoms ? what did the doc do to improve their health ? I really hope they are doing better now. Did you switch them to bottled water for a time ?

IrishCat 6 years, 6 months ago

Symptoms were excessive vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite for several days, the smallest one had a fever as well, both given IV fluids to help with dehydration and each given an anti-biotic shot. At first we tried not to give the anti-biotic shot to the one that had no fever, but eventually ended up bringing him back to the vet because he was getting worse while the one with the shot was getting better. and Yes, I did switch them to bottled water on the day I got back from the vet, I had the rest of the family drinking bottled water as well. I heard from the Vet that there were a ton of animals that were sick during that time that had to come into the clinic. Both are thankfully back to normal and acting as goofy as ever.

madcow 6 years, 6 months ago

My cats also got sick.

Both had a loss of appetite and vomiting.

The Youngest got so sick that I had to take him to the vet hospital. He had not eaten or drank anything for a week. Ended up costing a little over $1100 total.

Both are back to normal now, eating like pigs.

EJ Mulligan 6 years, 6 months ago

But, if we get rid of Gaslight Village, how will the tornadoes know where to hit?

FlawontheKaw 6 years, 6 months ago

It will be OK. The tornadoes have a deal with the devil and the insurance companies so they can detroy selectively.

Chad Lawhorn 6 years, 6 months ago

Up to four unrelated people can live in a property zoned multi-family. Up to three unrelated people can live in a property zoned single-family. Thanks, Chad

irvan moore 6 years, 6 months ago

i thought the trailer park would be a historic district, how will we explain to future generations why we took this piece of americana away?

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