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Archive for Friday, October 14, 2011

Win-win

A willingness to compromise may produce a win-win solution for a historic property.

October 14, 2011

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The ability to compromise may be a lost art in the federal government, but it apparently still is alive in Lawrence.

A proposal to build a 50-unit apartment project in the 1000 block of Indiana ran into trouble with historical preservation people recently because the plan called for moving the Varsity House, built in 1908, from its location at the corner of 11th and Indiana. Developers said their project would only work if the house was moved north to the middle of the 1000 block. Preservationists said it was important to keep the house —which was designed by a female architect and was the home of Kansas University football teams in the 1950s — at its corner location. The city’s Historic Resources Commission agreed that moving Varsity House from its corner would damage the “environs” of the nearby Oread Historic District, but the project could have gone forward if Lawrence city commissioners had determined there was “no feasible and prudent” alternative to moving the house.

Fortunately, before commissioners were forced into this standoff, Commissioner Mike Amyx proposed a compromise that both sides say they find acceptable: move Varsity House south instead of north. Such a move would put the house closer to the street but maintain the corner location that preservationists value. At the same time it would clear enough space to accommodate the planned apartment development, which would incorporate the historic structure.

Plans will have to be revised and resubmitted, but it’s nice to see them moving forward thanks to local people who are willing to work together and reach a compromise on a contentious issue.

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