Archive for Monday, October 10, 2011

Lawrence City Commission to review proposal to move historic home at 11th and Indiana

Renderings of a proposed apartment development at 1043 Indiana Street. The project would incorporate the old Varsity House property, shown on the right edge of the rendering, and add new apartment units.

Renderings of a proposed apartment development at 1043 Indiana Street. The project would incorporate the old Varsity House property, shown on the right edge of the rendering, and add new apartment units.

October 10, 2011


Tearing down an old home isn’t the only way to start a historic preservation battle in Lawrence. Moving one can create quite a stir, too.

Lawrence city commissioners at this evening’s meeting will wade into the issue of whether The Varsity House, 1043 Ind., ought to be moved down the block to make way for a unique apartment complex slated for 11th and Indiana streets.

Historic preservationists in the city are lining up against the idea, instead saying that the 1908 home, which is a rarity because it was designed by a female architect and regularly housed Kansas University’s varsity football team in the 1950s, can stay where it is and become a prominent part of the new development.

“What we’re thinking is, come on, developers, you have a great corner property here with great history. We would love for them to use it to their advantage instead of viewing it as a stumbling block,” said Dennis Brown, president of the Lawrence Preservation Alliance.

Attempts to reach Lawrence architect Paul Werner — a representative for the project’s development group, which is led by Lawrence businessman Thomas Fritzel — were not successful Monday.

But previously Werner has said if the house can’t be moved, it would jeopardize the project, which calls for building 50 apartments and two levels of underground parking.

Werner previously has said the house needs to be moved because its current corner location splits two lots of the property, making it difficult to build around. Werner’s plans call for the house to be moved to the northern edge of the development, and to be refurbished as a boarding house.

City commissioners are being asked to make a ruling on what the project can and can’t do. The city Historic Resources Commission already has ruled — on a 5-2 vote — that moving the house off its corner location will damage the “environs” of the nearby Oread Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Technically, the city-appointed Historic Resources Commission has the final say on whether the project would damage the historic district. But city commissioners can make a finding that there is “no feasible and prudent” alternative to moving the house, which would allow the project to proceed despite the objections of the city’s historic preservation board. But to do so, commissioners also will have to set aside a recommendation by the city’s historic resources administrator. The administrator, Lynne Braddock Zollner, said the development of apartments at the intersection is appropriate, but moving the house hasn’t been shown to be the only alternative for the project to proceed.

Brown said he believes there are alternatives to moving the house. He said Lawrence architect Stan Hernly has developed a concept plan with the house at its current location that shows essentially the same size of apartment project with underground parking. Brown said for historic preservationists, keeping the house on the corner is of high importance.

“It was a prominent house on a prominent corner when it was built,” Brown said. “If we move it, we’ll be losing some history.”


LHS56 6 years, 7 months ago

Woman architect and housing for the men's varsity team just don't seem to hold much water as far as being an historical home. Please...a little common sense. We simply can't "save" every home that has been built in Lawrence. Trying to follow their logic...why did they approve the Oread Hotel? How does that fit into Oread neighbor????

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 7 months ago

"We simply can't "save" every home that has been built in Lawrence."

True-- but this one can be saved easily enough.

kshiker 6 years, 7 months ago

How nice of you to suggest what a private property owner should do with their own property? Perhaps you should mind your own business and allow them to utilize their property in an economically efficient manner as long as it complies with all the applicable land use and zoning regulations.

kshiker 6 years, 7 months ago

If you like the house that much, then you should offer to buy it and renovate the structure. Otherwise, you should mind your own business and not attempt to impose your views on the proper use of the property against the developer who actually has money on the line and is attempting to make productive use of the blighted property.

kshiker 6 years, 7 months ago

Great analogy! The Coliseum is of course functionally equivalent to the Varsity House, which is obvious considering you are comparing an ancient wonder of the world constructed in antiquity to a turn of the century dilapidated boarding house. I relent!

Boston_Charley 6 years, 7 months ago

The Historic Resources Commission voted against the Oread Hotel. The City Commission overturned that decision.

LivedinLawrence4Life 6 years, 7 months ago

I drove by that house and I would much rather see a fresh new project there built to current safety code than see students live in that junky old house. I don't care who originally designed it or what sports players lived there. I'm all for the underground parking. That sounds like a great way to get some cars off the street and increase parking capacity around KU and the stadium. Maybe those interested in preserving the structure could buy it, donate it to KU, move it over by the campanile, then let the offensive line of the football team live there again. KU sold this property at auction because they didn't want it or place any value on the history of players renting there or they would have preserved it.

Matt Schwartz 6 years, 7 months ago

Get what cars off of the street??? No ones living their right now.

zackattackku 6 years, 7 months ago

Apparently you have never seen a gambrel roofed Dutch Colonial House. They are beautiful houses. That one at 11th and Indiana is a good example as well. Leave it alone and build the project next to it. Problem solved. It's so simple but no one seems to see it.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

Owner neglect is why the house looks rough. Let them run down so eventually well built structures fall apart then say "Oh my what a terrible looking house we must get rid of it".

The Varsity House is one of those 64 or 128 bedroom boarding houses with not enough parking being mandated.

One might be in your backyard,front yard or side yard soon.

Urge a no vote!

Sprocket1234 6 years, 7 months ago

The University let the house become run down...not the current owner/developer.

OreadHawk 6 years, 7 months ago

We all know that this structure is moving, Fritzal and company have been wronged by the Lawrence HRC, a lot of people have been wronged by the Lawrence HRC! read below from KSA 75-2724 1. "Any such public hearing or hearings held pursuant to this subsection or held pursuant to authority delegated by the state historical preservation officer under subsection (e) or (f) shall be held within 60 days from the date of receipt of notice by the state historical preservation officer from the state or any political subdivision of the state" we know the HRC skipped a meeting back in the day 2. (c) The failure of the state historic preservation officer to initiate an investigation of any proposed project within 30 days from the date of receipt of notice thereof shall constitute such officer's approval of such project. How may of you so called developers get a call returned in 30 day from Lynne? let alone an investigation.. if you miss the Kaws deadline to submit you may be well past the 60 day .. Let Fritzal and Werner build this thing not let them sue us like Wall wart for wasting time and delay. This so called Oread Historic District was ill born from the beginning. Where are the signatures of the majority of property owners . This was the work of Wilbur and his lady friends..

another_view 6 years, 7 months ago

More than a few believe that people who live in the Oread have been wronged by the Fritzals.

pace 6 years, 7 months ago

Last time a developer agreed to preserve something as part of it's project we got the weird standing wall dumpster area behind Borders. Then there was the little rock house on 9th. st. which they paved around and did no maintenance on the roof. Heard the KC owner of the apartment complex laughed in the faces of the people who offered to repair the roof. Said insurance wouldn't allow it. Lots of greed, no hand shake deals with most of the developers. I certainly do not say developers are all alike, but don't assume any deal will be kept. I personally would not mind them moving the house, but I would tie a refurbishing price tag to the deal. It is our history and they bought the property knowing what it was.

hujiko 6 years, 7 months ago

Fritzel already got his way with that colossal monstrosity just up the block.

Why should the city trust the word of the same guy that lied about multiple details of his last project? Building height, streetlights, even the "flagpoles" - what a sham. The whole building is over done and exudes a proud sense of falsity.

The city cannot bend to every whim or else we'll end up with a blanket of astroturf 27 square miles in area. Don't let developers call the shots, they're only in it for the money and could care less about any sort of historic environs.

roadwarrior 6 years, 7 months ago

haven't they noticed how much noise pollution those darned flags create ? They really should make some adjustment to that. It's pretty annoying.

hujiko 6 years, 7 months ago

Oh that's nothing compared to how haggard those flags get during the winter; I clearly remember the Stars and Stripes being half-gone and frayed for over a month when we had all that snow. If you're going to fly a flag at least use proper etiquette, such as taking it down during inclement conditions. The crew at Fraser seems to keep on top of that like butter on pasta.

Fritzel must not have been a boy scout.

Scott Morgan 6 years, 7 months ago

Preserve, you bet. Or, we see more things as a former stagecoach stop crumbling more and more each year.

Always feel sad when driving by the old majestic stone house on HW 56 about 5 miles East of Overbrook. A sign of the times, has a cell phone tower in immaculate shape adjacent to it.

Oh, Kansans also missed another tourist site. Not positive, but not off by too much, is on the old Sante Fe Trail. You can't swing a dead cat around and not hit a nice small local museum.

With little work we could have a nice place to stop once in a while by combining the two.

KU_cynic 6 years, 7 months ago

Question: Is this property within the special taxing district that benefits the Oread Inn development or just adjacent to it? In other words, as this property is developed will enhanced property taxes flow to Fritzel et al. under the Oread's TIF financing deal?

KU_cynic 6 years, 7 months ago

Question asked but not answered.

In addition to the incremental sales tax, the Oread also gets TIF increment financing on property taxes collected on assessed valuations in the neighborhood in excess of the pre-Oread baseline. Is the new development within the boundaries of that area?

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

I'm not sure who exactly these developers think will rent their apartments in all these new apartment buildings, given existing vacancy rates, and slow population growth in Lawrence.

Bob Forer 6 years, 7 months ago

Upper middle class college students who are willing to pay a premium to live in nice diggs close to campus.

skinny 6 years, 7 months ago

The house is a dump and needs to be torn down. Why do you think KU got rid of it??

LogicMan 6 years, 7 months ago

I'd guess the developer would give the house for free to anyone willing to move it, right now.

But if no one steps forward, it must make way for progress. A sad loss, for sure.

New apartments would most likely do well there and fill quickly with liberal arts students from that side of campus. Just make sure there's abundant off-street parking on its site.

Matt Schwartz 6 years, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

roadwarrior 6 years, 7 months ago

I'm not sure I understand what your talking about, not fully restored ? Protecting the exterior wood on Maupintour House was more important for the preservation of existing woodwork then new ropes in windows that stay closed in a climate controlled home. I certainly would not qualify the protection of 100 year old craftsmanship as "fluffing away" money.

bd 6 years, 7 months ago

so in 100 years Jayhawk towers would be treated the same???? get over it, move it out of the way or tear it dowm!

Getaroom 6 years, 7 months ago

No matter how Varsity House has arrived at it's current condition moving it to a new spot where it can continue to be appreciated for it's historic background is appropriate. It is in poor condition both inside and out - a fact. The more important point is who is responsible for it's upkeep and who is going to pay for it wherever it ends up longer term? The build project that is going to happen anyway, we all know that. Varsity House has been sitting there looking as it has for years and where were the up-in-arms historical preservationist then to protect it's integrity? It was not until someone actually wanted to do something with that property that all this scrambling started up. Deep pockets are the only ones able to turn a shovel in this city right now so of course they get the deals and it has never been any different. Compton, Fritzel, Harris - take your pick. Let us pick our fights more wisely this time around. We can all adjust to change over time and this fight is not worth it. Disagreement is normal and expected. Proposal: move it down by the practice football field, fix it up and let some of the highly revered and pampered football players live there so they can be under the watchful eyes of the public off the field as well as on. Might help them stay out of trouble. Perhaps the Anderson Family would chip in for that as a show piece in support of the good ol' alma mater. It could be the new "Anderson Athletics Scholarship Hall for Football") Now there is an idea, football with a focus on academia, what a novel approach to be proud of. Or substitute the name of Fritzel, Compton, Oldfather, LJW or whatever it takes to make it work. The players could touch the house as a good luck charm as they take an even wider majestic run onto the filed and after stroking the new brass Jayhawks tail and emerging onto the filed through a cloud of mysterious fog! Sounding better all the time. Eat, sleep, study, play football and all within easy walking distance of the main campus and great exercise up and down the hill to classes. Anyone care to set up a council to study this proposal and I would be happy to head it up for only a small compensation of say, a million bucks. It is a shovel ready project and provides me a job and plenty of money for me to feed back into the local economy. This is a no failure venture really and no solar panels involved unless you vote them in. I promise to show up enthusiastically for work everyday and see it through to completion. OK LJW, your turn to set up one of those clever "Yes" or "No" voting buttons on the side panel over here in the right side of the page and getter' movin'. Yes, I am over 18 and free to begin work at a moments notice! I will take one of those Bigg's Barbeque sandwiches for lunch thanks. See, advertising is already working to support the local economy for this project! Vote "YES" for Getaroom (no historical homes were damaged in the making of this blog entry.)

Matthew Herbert 6 years, 7 months ago

Our city needs to realize that the terms "old" and "historically significant" are not synonyms. My neighbor has an old truck rotting away in his driveway. Everyday it gets a little more "historically significant".

Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

Become acquainted as to how we LOCAL taxpayers are far too generous for OUR own good:

“Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (And Stick You LOCALS with the Bill)

Not Smart Development Increases Taxes:

Local Authority With Excellent links

Flap Doodle 6 years, 7 months ago

"...And there is another type of Caps Lock user who doesn’t capitalize whole sentences but INSTEAD capitalizes a few SPECIFIC words for EMPHASIS. Now read a sentence like that aloud, shouting every time you come to a capitalized word, and tell me you do not sound like an absolute freakin’ lunatic. This method can turn even basic known facts into crazy-sounding gibberish (“The SQUARE of the HYPOTENUSE of a RIGHT triangle equals the SUM of the squares of the OTHER two sides”)...." (from a source)

LHS56 6 years, 7 months ago

Interesting.....the City is considering to "assist" the project in east Lawrence with over one million dollars of help. Yet we have a house (not a home) that is falling apart in the Oread neighborhood. Will the City be willing to help remodel and renovate the Varsity House with another million? If both projects are Historical, it only seems fair. the home is starting to approach the historical...or needing improvement stage. Is there a line forming for City aid that I can join????

bornon7 6 years, 7 months ago

Only if you are rich and are a developer in Lawrence....

Mark Kostner 6 years, 7 months ago

When I lived in Boulder in the 80's they had growth control laws and to get around them they would build condos or apartments around old houses. The original houses were usually the apartment manager's residence or in the condos and townhouses they were one of the units. The complexes would match the architecture of the original building and the complexes generally looked good.

Sunny Parker 6 years, 7 months ago

The property was for sale via auction. The deveoper bought it. If you wanted a say in what happened to the Varsity House...maybe you should have bought it and poured millions into restoring it!

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