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Archive for Saturday, October 22, 2011

Developer Doug Compton hopes ‘901 Building’ will spur living, shopping downtown

Doug Compton, president of First Management Inc., talks about his seven-story apartment/retail/office project at Ninth and New Hampshire streets. The building will house a health club and office space, along with 55 apartments.

October 22, 2011

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The 901 Building is a $10 million project that could be the first in a series of new developments for the Ninth and New Hampshire intersection. A group led by Compton last month filed plans for a six-story hotel and apartment building to be built on the vacant lot at the southeast corner of the intersection.

The 901 Building is a $10 million project that could be the first in a series of new developments for the Ninth and New Hampshire intersection. A group led by Compton last month filed plans for a six-story hotel and apartment building to be built on the vacant lot at the southeast corner of the intersection.

Doug Compton, president of First Management Inc., stands inside “The 901 Building,” as he calls it, at Ninth and New Hampshire streets. The seven-story building that has changed the downtown Lawrence skyline will be home to 55 apartments, office space and a health club when complete.

Doug Compton, president of First Management Inc., stands inside “The 901 Building,” as he calls it, at Ninth and New Hampshire streets. The seven-story building that has changed the downtown Lawrence skyline will be home to 55 apartments, office space and a health club when complete.

It was a Sunday morning, back when the roof of this seven-story building in the heart of downtown Lawrence was nothing more than a few steel studs.

Doug Compton grabbed a hard hat and sneaked up to the top. Well, he likely didn’t sneak much. He’s the leader of this $10 million project at Ninth and New Hampshire streets, and he’ll go where he pleases — sometimes showing up on the job site three or four times a day.

But the point is, Compton didn’t want to wait any longer. After all, there are plenty of opportunities to see downtown from the flat ground of Massachusetts Street. There are even a few to see it from a third-story loft, if you play your cards right. But when it comes to viewing downtown — and everything that surrounds it — from a seventh-story perch, those opportunities are still rare.

Compton is bringing you one of them with this building at the southwest corner of Ninth and New Hampshire. He’s filed plans to bring you another skyscraper — by Lawrence standards anyway — at the southeast corner of the intersection, and he’s already dreaming of how he could bring you a third on the northeast corner.

If Compton has his way, he’s going to leave a mark on Lawrence’s skyline. It already has left a mark on him.

“When I got up here, all I could say is, ‘Wow,’” said Compton, one of the city’s larger landlords and developers as president of First Management Inc. “This project absolutely has been a lot of fun. It is great to have a plan and a dream and then to actually see it.

“It is every bit as beautiful as I thought it would be.”

Moving in

The 901 Building — as Compton calls it — will have several parts to it. The ground floor will be a health club occupied by the leaders of Next Level Fitness, a group that now offers private training out of a small gym in North Lawrence. The new health club will include a private training business, called Next Level, and a full-service public fitness center, called The Summit. The first floor also has space for a bistro/wine bar concept that opens onto a patio on the west side of the building.

The second floor will be about 10,000 square feet of office space. Compton hopes to move the corporate headquarters of his First Management firm — which has about 50 employees at its headquarters — to the building. But he hasn’t yet committed to make the move because he hasn’t found a tenant or a buyer for the company’s existing headquarters in northern Lawrence.

But it is floors three through seven that have driven this project. Each floor will have 11 apartment units, with each level connected to the adjacent public parking garage.

The apartments will be the first part of the project to open. Plans call for some tenants to start moving in Nov. 1, with all 55 apartments completed by early December.

“We knew downtown living was going to be a hit,” said Compton, who said the few apartments he has above his other downtown buildings always have a waiting list.

The project is 71 percent preleased, and Compton said he expects that number to grow in the next few weeks now that the building is far enough along that tenants can begin to see some of the finishes.

The project isn’t going to turn downtown into a new student-housing district, Compton said. Primarily the tenant mix has skewed to young professionals. Studio apartments begin at about $800. One-bedrooms, which make up the majority of the units, begin at about $940. Two-bedroom units start at about $1,100.

All the units, which range in size from about 600 square feet to 1,000 square feet, feature an urban design, including a decorative metal ceiling, a walk-in shower, a membership to the health club, and all units except the studios have a balcony.

Lots of folks want to give urban living a try, said Matt Gatewood, who is waiting to move into a sixth-floor apartment in the building. Gatewood already has been living in downtown Lawrence for seven years in the nearby building at 10th and New Hampshire streets.

“It is a pretty unique experience living in downtown,” Gatewood said. “You don’t have to get in a car if you want to go to a restaurant or to a movie or to experience some nightlife. Plus, in downtown, you just feel like you are in the middle of everything.”

Gatewood, who is a project manager for a software company, said he thinks downtown Lawrence has more potential for living units than even downtown Kansas City. He said Lawrence’s downtown is more compact and thus puts people closer to the activity centers than is possible in downtown K.C.

“I’m not sure there is a real cap for how many people could end up living in downtown Lawrence,” Gatewood said. “There is a lot going on down here.”

A clear view

Compton stops in the middle of one of the building’s stairways and calls the fellow he sees walking out of the building down below. He wants to make sure he got a few details right about a counter that is on order for the lobby of the health club. Earlier in the day, Compton was using his hands to draw pictures in the air of the counter’s layout and where shelves could go.

If your vision of Compton is of some well-heeled developer who sits in an office writing checks, that’s not the way it has worked on this project. Compton can tell you the different colors that each floor’s hallways will be painted, and he can spend five minutes or more talking about the details of the key card security system that will be installed in the building’s elevator.

“I spend more time on this project than I do any of my others,” Compton said. “I’m down here three or four times a week, and sometimes three or four times a day.”

With a $10 million price tag, the stakes for the project are high. But Compton gives the impression that he thinks the stakes for downtown are high, too.

“This is really our opportunity to create a mass of people living and shopping in downtown Lawrence,” Compton said as he motioned to the entire Ninth and New Hampshire intersection.

A group led by Compton last month filed plans for a six-story hotel and apartment building to be built on the vacant lot at the southeast corner of the intersection. The project would include an 81-room TownePlace by Marriott on the top three floors of the building, 36 apartments on the second and third floors of the building, and a restaurant, hotel lobby and retail space on the ground floor. The project would include two levels of underground parking as well.

But Compton last week confirmed what several have speculated: that he someday would like to do a large project on the northeast corner of the intersection. Compton said he can envision a combination of residential and retail development on the site, which now houses the offices for Black Hills Energy and others. Compton doesn’t known when, or if, he’ll ever be able to put together a deal for that corner, which he does not yet fully own. But the wheels are spinning.

The hotel project, however, is doing more than spinning. The city’s Historic Resources Commission is expected to begin debating the project at a meeting later this month. Discussion likely will include concerns from east Lawrence residents who wonder about the impacts the large building will have on the adjacent neighborhood.

Compton said he is confident that his development team will successfully address their concerns, and he indicated he would work hard to see the project through.

“I tell you, that project over there should happen,” Compton said, pointing to the hotel site. “It needs to happen for downtown.”

In the meantime, you get the feeling that Compton feels awfully good about what already has happened at this intersection that very well may become known one day as Compton’s Corner.

“You know, up there on the top floor, the views aren’t blocked by anything,” he said. “And they never will be.”

Comments

oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 6 months ago

Does Mr. Compton really have a zebra? I just don't understand the laws in Lawrence. I requested from the City Legal Dept head honco about how I would go about to have a monkey. I had plans to have the monkey as an organ grinder downtown on weekends. I was told I could not have a monkey in city limits. So, goes to show you, Lawrence is not business friendly. I was planning to donate part of the monkey business proceeds to fund a scholarship for outstanding Leadership Lawrence grads.

Oh well!

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tanaumaga 2 years, 6 months ago

Larry native, get your hands and mouth off of it.

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rockchalk1977 2 years, 6 months ago

Are there any construction projects in Lawrence you "progressive" hippies approve of?

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Richard Payton 2 years, 6 months ago

Have you seem the courthouse lofts in Kansas City Missouri for $555.00 a month with income restrictions? Those have stainless steel appliances.

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g_rock 2 years, 6 months ago

No matter how sparkly it looks now, 901 will be the new "Highpoint" 15 years from now....meaning, never what you imagined it would be. This isn't Disney, Doug. Go pet your zebra.

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acg 2 years, 6 months ago

I worked for Dougie, and his company, as well as any sense of altruism you might think he feels is a giant sham. These are people who will tell you "If you're doing your job right, when you process a security deposit at the time of the tenant move out WE will end up with more of their money than they will" direct quote from one of the she-males he puts in charge. Now, this travesty he built at 901 was slapped up lickety split using the lowest bidders he could find in addition to his own joke of a construction company. The floors aren't even finished, for god's sake, they're just painted concrete. You'll have to sign a noise addendum with this lease and for $1100 a month you too can live on unfinished concrete in the noisest part of town in a place that now seems great, but 6 months from now will start falling apart. He will treat this like all of his other properties (Applecroft where the appliances are I'm not kidding, at least 15 years old, Highpointe, where he wants to charge like it's Parkway but the crap carpet and ripped up vinyl prevent it from being at 100% occupancy. Let's not even talk about Ocho Court, Rollins Place or Melrose Court. All three of those properties will forever have this smell of midew/funk/never been cleaned properly and I personally wouldn't pay him $2 to live in any of it.) But go ahead, those of you who keep getting taken in by compton, keep supporting what he's doing to your community. One day you'll wake up, and he will own everything, and it will all be in disrepair and he will still be laughing all the way to the bank.

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Cait McKnelly 2 years, 6 months ago

What Doug Compton really hopes for is to make a profit.

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1029 2 years, 6 months ago

"Compton is bringing you one of them with this building at the southwest corner of Ninth and New Hampshire. He’s filed plans to bring you another skyscraper — by Lawrence standards anyway — at the southeast corner of the intersection, and he’s already dreaming of how he could bring you a third on the northeast corner."

Who is this "you" that this guy keeps talking about? This guy is pure evil down to the core.

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stobywan 2 years, 6 months ago

Waste of space and money you will see in a year when that building is empty and the workout is over. We are left with another empty hole in the wall brought to you by dougy boi... oh and maybe he will push through a new law with money that only allows 1 family member to live in one of our large lawrence homes so you will have to put your own children up in one of his apartments.... smart move but anytime someone grows to big they will fall hard........

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Steve Jacob 2 years, 6 months ago

Apartments downtown sell easy, the health club is the one that we will wait and see if it will last. They come and go, and rent has to be crazy high.

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Christine Anderson 2 years, 6 months ago

Who the hell would be stupid enough to pay $800 for a studio apt., even if they could?

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Mark Kostner 2 years, 6 months ago

Lawrence has really grown up and grown up into a nice city. If I were to move back to Kansas that would be where I'd want to live. Downtown is a great place to visit and it keeps getting better. Kudos to Doug Compton for making such as investment in this economy. I hope he and other developers continue developing the downtown as a living, retail, entertainment, and office center. Lawrence has worked hard for its downtown and against the retail trend of the day, did not abandon its downtown for a mall like everyone else did. Now it's a place people are drawn to. Try to think of other places where this development would have worked. Not too many come to mind, do they?

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pizzapete 2 years, 6 months ago

Now that there are more apartments downtown, I'm super motivated to do more shopping downtown. And if the view is good from 7 stories, think of how cool it'll be when they make a parking garage of South Park so Doug can build a 15 story bar/health club/hotel/condo loft/office building. Super exciting, who's ready to go shopping?

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LHS56 2 years, 6 months ago

dubstep....think of the Fritzel family. If it were not for the Comptons and Fritzels of Lawrence we would all be paying much higher taxes. I wouldn't want to live in the 901 Building nor can I afford a Fritzel home. However, I still appreciate what they have done for our community. And perhaps Bob Billings and Alvamar might be right up there. We're trying to attract retired people to Lawrence. Alvamar is a big draw. Ohhh...and they pay taxes unlike the City Golf Course.

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dubstep 2 years, 6 months ago

So I have a couple of things to raise. First, the statement "“....said Compton, one of the city’s larger landlords and developers as president of First Management Inc." Is this an understatement? Who is a larger landlord and developer in Lawrence? I always thought he was the biggest.

Second, this reminds me a lot of a previous article Chad wrote about Doug being "drawn to 'difficult projects'" regarding the Wal-Mart: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2003/oct...

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Scott Morgan 2 years, 6 months ago

for those who always say older homes are better............

builders grade appliances = folks living in very old homes who only see big bathtubs in movies builders grade appliances = folks who take the A/c out of the window in October builders grade appliances = who walk on floors which make noise, and fight cold winter drafts by stating it's charming builders grade appliances = folks who wish they had builders grade appliances

Yep those fancy dancy new 200 k homes are pretty neat to live in. Then burn 300 or 400K and life gets easy.

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Kookamooka 2 years, 6 months ago

I wonder if he and his friends that have kids would give up their 4000 sq ft homes with yards and three car garages to live in apartments downtown?

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ljreader 2 years, 6 months ago

From the US Farm Subsidies Database: http://farm.ewg.org/persondetail.php?custnumber=A10234949

Douglas J Compton received payments totaling $288,989 from 1995 through 2010

Looks like Farmer Doug stopped farming in 2009 or the gravy train pulled out of the station. Also, it would be nice if he actually created jobs for American citizens, since it is we, not foreign nationals, who are always being asked to pony up for his projects. How about a little E-verify, Doug?

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LivedinLawrence4Life 2 years, 6 months ago

He still reminds me of Woody from Toy Story. Ride em Bulls Eye!

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oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 6 months ago

With this building added to his inventory, is it possible he might just have some extra asphalt and really spruce up his Dollar General store building. Even po folks like to park in a decent parking lot, Mr. Compton. The patch jobs don't get the job done. Even if the leaseholder is responsible you could kick in a few bucks and get the lot done correctly.

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rockchalker52 2 years, 6 months ago

urban need - urban market necessity - invention circumstances - opportunity forethought - action ...a will - there's a way effort - reward maybe yes - maybe no

jury's out

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oletimer 2 years, 6 months ago

should have know that lawhorn wrote this big front page article for kind compton. I think he is looking for a job with compton or walmart. seems to be the only two bells he is ringing. free advertisement. as if compton needs any more sugar.

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oletimer 2 years, 6 months ago

all hail king compton. building stuff and making money off the taxpayers of lawrence. I hope for your sake's he is done for a while. you folks can not afford to give him more tax breaks.

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Rae Hudspeth 2 years, 6 months ago

Chad, thank you so much for using "sneaked" instead of the pitifully usual "snuck" I ♥ you.

And seriously Kernal.. if you don't want to hear downtown noise, don't buy an apartment downtown. Get back to the suburbia where you obviously belong.

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bootlegger 2 years, 6 months ago

Doug can u buy us a decent football coach????

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overplayedhistory 2 years, 6 months ago

Hope? There are lot better ways to wager money on improving the local economy, than hoping it will get better and make your development solvent. This is money being spent on an assumption, not an economic investment (which now been re branded as stimulus money) for down town, not really, other than the temporary construction jobs.

Is using money to build something that people will want after they have pulled them selves up from their bootstraps (as if they even have a latter to climb or boots to begin with) the best way to invest in the community?

Hey money guys who want to help, here's an idea, try stimulating it on the front end instead building stuff it will need after it has been fixed. Here is your challenge. Build something that creates more than service jobs that will have fewer and fewer people to service.

Remove your rose colored glasses and take a look around. This is not just an economic cycle anymore.

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Phillbert 2 years, 6 months ago

That's funny - it doesn't appear there was one mention of the fact that this project - like just about every major developer's project - got government subsidies.

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mysterytrain 2 years, 6 months ago

I'd like to see Compton give something back to the community some day instead of taking ie increasing rents downtown for local shopkeepers, taking parking spaces in the garage for his residents, and blocking views. Nice for him and his wallet that the view is so great up top. Time to give something back Doug - haven't you taken enough from the city? How about something for the parks? A community space that is fully given and not a money machine? ?

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weeslicket 2 years, 6 months ago

did we all notice the "builder's grade" kitchen and bathroom fixtures and finishes?

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chocolateplease 2 years, 6 months ago

This looks exciting! It beats suburban sprawl any day.

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kernal 2 years, 6 months ago

If I'm going to pay $1100 for an apartment, I do NOT want to hear my neighbors or the sounds of downtown revelery during the night when I have to get up at 5:30am five days a week. Is Dougie building "quiet" buildings, or the usual schlock that are Lawrence apartment buildings?

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BruceWayne 2 years, 6 months ago

Chad- I think you should be the first and do a little actual investigative reporting about Mr. Compton. Ignore all the rumors and actually dig a little. There is much more to this man than just money and rumor...much more.

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BruceWayne 2 years, 6 months ago

Chad- I think you should be the first and do a little actual investigative reporting about Mr. Compton. Ignore all the rumors and actually dig a little. There is much more to this man than just money and rumor...much more.

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uglyrumor 2 years, 6 months ago

so you have basically built another new apartment in town, but this one will take more available parking both on the street and in the garage. It will also have plenty of empty retail/office space like the hobbs taylor lofts. Sounds good to me

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