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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

BruceWayne 3 years, 2 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.

BruceWayne 3 years, 2 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.

kernal 3 years, 2 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?

chocolateplease 3 years, 2 months ago

This looks exciting! It beats suburban sprawl any day.

weeslicket 3 years, 2 months ago

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

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 2 months ago

Yep-- if he wants to continue to get upscale rental rates for these places, they'll all need replacing in 10 years or less.

impska 3 years, 2 months ago

I find it hard to believe that a building with such low grade finishes is geared toward "young professionals." The apartment he's standing in looks like it's geared toward student rental - with finishes that are easy and cheap to replace every other year or so.

I strongly suspect students with parents who help them out with rent are the kinds of tenants a place like this will see.

I personally believe that downtown is already geared toward students anyway - so I don't have a problem if students want to live there too - but clearly Compton doesn't want people to think that way about this project.

Who knows. Maybe the apartments will look nicer when they're completely finished.

mysterytrain 3 years, 2 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? ?

Bassetlover 3 years, 2 months ago

OMG, of all the lies perpetuated about this man, yours truly takes the cake!!! He has donated thousands....if not hundreds of thousands....of dollars to local charities over the years, much of it anonymously. He doesn't seek the limelight of ask for acknowledgment. 99% of the haters that dump on him are motivated merely by jealousy. Plain and simple.

jafs 3 years, 2 months ago

What do you think the net situation is with Compton, if we took all of the tax breaks and government assistance he has received and subtracted his charitable contributions?

jafs 3 years, 2 months ago

That isn't an answer to my question.

jafs 3 years, 2 months ago

Well, according to the above poster, he's given thousands, if not hundreds of thousands.

We know for a fact that he's gotten hundreds of thousands on this project alone.

I'd bet he's gotten more from the government than he's given to charities, if the above post is correct in the estimates given.

Phillbert 3 years, 2 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.

jafs 3 years, 2 months ago

The issue is with both of them.

If Compton hadn't asked for handouts, he wouldn't have received them.

jafs 3 years, 2 months ago

Since you have continued to respond to my posts after being asked to stop, I am going to report your conduct to the moderators of the forum.

Windemere 3 years, 2 months ago

money being spent on as assumption? Would you similarly criticize other successful entreprenuers who were going on an assumption/hope that their businesses would be successful? Whole Foods? Chipotle? Apple?

People vote with their dollars and business owners do not put guns to peoples' heads to make them work there. Legitimately successful ones answer market needs and provide jobs. One way Compton is less-than-legitimate is the degree to which he takes /demands govt hand-outs. That part is a valid criticism.

Windemere 3 years, 2 months ago

Well, we'll see if renters & shoppers make the project a success or if Doug has made a costly mistake.

Rae Hudspeth 3 years, 2 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.

kernal 3 years, 2 months ago

raerae, sorry kiddo, but have lived in a real big city in a real city apartment building that was quieter than most apartment buildings I've seen in Lawrence. Of course you're going to hear some noise no matter where you live; anything from trains, coyotes, traffic, planes or sirens. I lived two blocks from a six lane boulevard that had traffic 24/7 and didn't bother me in the least; it's like white noise. It's the drunks and fights that are disruptive to people's sleep. As for suburbia, it's becoming a dying concept.

Rae Hudspeth 3 years, 1 month ago

Again, drunks and fights are part of downtown Lawrence, whether we like it or not. I've also lived in cities with noise, and for three years, a big rig on the highway, yes, you can get used to noise, but you can't expect a neighborhood of bars and late-night music venues to change to suit gentrification.

And please, don't call me "kiddo", unless you are my father's age: 75. It's very disrespectful and patronizing to a woman over 50.

rockchalker52 3 years, 2 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

LivedinLawrence4Life 3 years, 2 months ago

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

Kookamooka 3 years, 2 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?

Bob Forer 3 years, 2 months ago

His home is quite a bit bigger than 4000 square feet.

BruceWayne 3 years, 2 months ago

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

acg 3 years, 2 months ago

You got that right. His car garage, alone is almost 10,000 sq feet. But then one needs tons of room to house 20 cars and trucks. lol

Scott Morgan 3 years, 2 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.

dubstep 3 years, 2 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...

LHS56 3 years, 2 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.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 2 months ago

"If it were not for the Comptons and Fritzels of Lawrence we would all be paying much higher taxes. "

Unsupported assertion.

jafs 3 years, 2 months ago

"Towns grow or they die"

This is almost certainly not true - there is a middle ground, of sustainability without continued growth.

jafs 3 years, 2 months ago

Again, your continuing to respond is a violation of the tos, and I have reported your conduct.

Please stop responding to my posts, as I have previously requested.

MarcoPogo 3 years, 2 months ago

Insert Tootie from "The Facts of Life" saying "You are in truh-buhhhllll."

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 2 months ago

I'm familiar with both First Management and Fritzel projects in action.

And what I can say both have in common is poor planning and management, and a willingness to stick it to subcontractors when that results in construction delays and cost overruns. And then payments are often weeks if not months later than they should be.

But you're right that they have come to dominate the local construction scene (along with a couple of other big companies) which is why they can get away with the above. But it's pretty much the same everywhere.

1southernjayhawk 3 years, 2 months ago

Well, they pay a LOT of property taxes. A LOT. If you can assume that the city would spend just as much with or without the comptons and fritzels, an assumption I have no trouble with, then the city would have to have more from each of us to equal its lost tax revenue.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 2 months ago

"Well, they pay a LOT of property taxes."

And well they should-- they consume massive amounts of city, county and state services.

pizzapete 3 years, 2 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?

Mark Kostner 3 years, 2 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?

jafs 3 years, 2 months ago

We haven't seen whether this will "work" or not yet.

I predict many vacancies, similar to the Hobbs-Taylor project.

jafs 3 years, 2 months ago

Really?

Any source for that assertion?

jafs 3 years, 2 months ago

I looked at the article in more detail - according to it, the apartments are 71% preleased, not almost 100%.

But, I admit I am very surprised that there are that many people with the kind of income necessary to rent these apartments who want to live there.

And, there's a second level of about 10,000sf that still needs to be leased or occupied.

bethann 3 years, 2 months ago

Hobbs-Taylor is condos, not rental apts.

jafs 3 years, 2 months ago

Yes.

But there's also a bunch of vacant retail space for lease in the building.

Windemere 3 years, 2 months ago

What are the facts about Hobbs & vacancies? Anyone have the numbers? If that's a flop then it's curious that Compton moved forward with his idea. (realize the the Hobbs are condos and Doug's are apts - maybe that's the difference).

jafs 3 years, 2 months ago

I don't have numbers, but my understanding is that it took quite a while for the lofts to be sold, and that the retail space is still underutilized, with a number of vacancies.

There is a difference, of course, between condos and apartments.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 2 months ago

I believe that the residential units in Hobbs are all rented/leased. It's the commercial spaces that are vacant.

jafs 3 years, 2 months ago

They're condos, so they're sold, not leased, I think.

Christine Anderson 3 years, 2 months ago

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

Steve Jacob 3 years, 2 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.

stobywan 3 years, 2 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........

MarcoPogo 3 years, 2 months ago

"you will see in a year when that building is empty and the workout is over."

Empty building on Oct. 24, 2012? We'll meet back here and see the results.

1029 3 years, 2 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.

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 2 months ago

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

acg 3 years, 2 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.

acg 3 years, 2 months ago

Actually I told them to stick their crap company up their respective butts as I couldn't take one more minute of lying to tenants, lying to parents, lying to vendors about money, screwing people over on their rent/late fees/etc. Telling tenants that live in shambles that they had no recourse really makes a person want to puke after a while.

Rebecca Valburg 3 years, 2 months ago

I don't read where acg said that, Larry. I have heard similar reports from a lot of First Management employees (though to be fair, the last one I really talked to was a couple of years ago, and he was pretty happy). Had a really good friend that worked for him about 10 years ago . . . he loved the parties, beer at work, etc, until he noticed that the paychecks were being quietly garnished fairly regularly for company expenses (i.e. if Doug required you to carry a cell phone and you went over on your minutes, the overage charge would be deducted from your check - my friend carried a personal cell and a business cell - every single call on the business cell was from Doug, or if a tool broke while you were using it, your next check bought the replacement, etc). Everyone took it for a long time, until finally one of the quiet guys called an attorney and left forms explaining what employers could and could not legally do at work for the employees to pick up. There much yelling and harassing, and quite a few people canned while they tried to figure out who had provided everyone with the information . . . so getting fired from First Management at least didn't used to mean much. Perhaps Doug has changed - I certainly hope so. Just made me pretty sick to see him taking business expenses out of the checks of people that were already scraping by, often with young kids depending on them, that sort of thing, when he didn't seem to cut any corners on providing for himself.

jafs 3 years, 2 months ago

Beer at work doesn't give me a lot of confidence in the quality of workmanship on these projects.

BruceWayne 3 years, 2 months ago

Did he get a new Zebra? You know he shot the one that ripped off the guys arm, right? Of course the LJW never did a follow up to that.

Richard Payton 3 years, 2 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.

tanaumaga 3 years, 2 months ago

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

BruceWayne 3 years, 2 months ago

he does NOT live in city limits! he also has a camel and a giraffe. he is so awesome.

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