Archive for Friday, September 16, 2011

Town Talk: Renderings released for proposed multi-story, downtown hotel; Cosmosphere wants our missile; Watkins museum to celebrate this weekend

September 16, 2011


Subscribe to the Town Talk email edition

Subscribe to the email edition of Town Talk and we'll deliver you the latest city news and notes every weekday at noon.

News and notes from around town:

A southwest view of a proposed multi-story hotel, apartment and retail building on the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets.

A southwest view of a proposed multi-story hotel, apartment and retail building on the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets.

A southern view of a proposed hotel, apartment, retail building on the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets

A southern view of a proposed hotel, apartment, retail building on the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets

• Developers of a proposed, multi-story hotel at Ninth and New Hampshire streets are giving the public its first glimpse at what downtown’s newest addition to the skyline may look like. The folks at Lawrence-based Treanor Architects have filed plans for the six-story project with the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Department. (Sorry, black and white plans were all that were available.) The first rendering to the side of this article (click on it and it becomes larger) is a view from the southwest corner. In other words, you are standing in the middle of New Hampshire Street in front of the Lawrence Arts Center. (You’re also backing up traffic.) The second rendering is a view straight from the south, looking down. In other words, you’re in a helicopter, or perhaps a new-aged hover craft, above the Lawrence Arts Center. (You also are really freaking people out.) The glass story that juts out slightly from the corner is indeed an indoor swimming pool, complete with a retractable skylight. The second rendering shows part of the roof also serves as a sun deck. (The folks in the chaise lounges are requesting that the hovering move elsewhere.) It appears the roof area also would have a small bar area, which may cause some downtown employees I know to hover. The main entrance to the hotel would be on the far south corner. (The part of the picture closest to you.) There would be a driveway between the new building and the Lawrence Arts Center, where hotel guests could load and unload. Just north of the lobby would be space for about a 2,000-square-foot restaurant/wine bar. Farther north — all the way to the corner of Ninth and New Hampshire — would be about 5,000 square feet of retail space. The space could serve as one large store or could be broken up for two or three retailers. Another 1,600 square feet space is located on the back side of the building — fronting the alley — that could be used either for retail or office space. Also off the alley is a small parking lot for 10 vehicles, which likely will be a valet parking lot. The main parking for the project is underground. Two levels of underground parking will provide 89 spaces. In total, the plans list 119 spaces, which includes 14 on-street spaces, four parallel parking spots and two drop off parking spots. Not shown in these renderings, but the main entrance to the underground parking would be off Ninth Street. It also appears that a loading dock area is located off Ninth Street.

Other details of the project are much as we reported last week. The hotel will have 81 rooms on the top three floors of the building. The second and third floors of the building will house 36 apartment units, including two studio apartments, 22 one-bedroom units and 12 two-bedroom units.

The project will need multiple layers of approval from City Hall. Up first will be a review by the Historic Resources Commission. That could come in October or November. The project also will need approval from the Planning Commission. There also may be approvals needed from the City Commission, although the zoning on the site is already in place. Expect height issues to be a major talking point with the adjacent East Lawrence Neighborhood. I hear the project will be conducting a new type of study of Lawrence — a shadow study to determine how large of a shadow the building will cast. I know I have heard that the folks at the Bourgeois Pig and at Z’s Divine Espresso have noticed how their outdoor seating areas receive less sun as a result of the seven-story apartment/retail/office building that is under construction on the southwest corner of Ninth and New Hampshire.

Developers are saying that the hotel will be a Towne Place Suites by Marriott, although a deal with a Marriott franchisee has not been finalized yet. The city currently has a SpringHill Suites by Marriott in the former Riverfront Mall property in downtown. The franchisee of that property will be given an opportunity to be part of the new project. Members of the Simons family — which owns the Journal-World and — are part of the ownership group of the SpringHill Suites by Marriott.

• An interesting offer by the Hutchinson Cosmosphere or a intricate Communist plot to weaken Lawrence’s defenses against the Red Menace? That’s what Lawrence city commissioners soon will have to determine. In case you didn’t know, Lawrence has its own Cold War defense system in place. In the section of Centennial Park that fronts Sixth Street there is a Polaris submarine-launched ballistic missile on display. (All right, the missile isn’t operable, but the Rooskies don’t need to know that.) Now, the city has received a letter from the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson. The center wants to know if the city has any interest in donating the missile to the center for use in a new rocket and aircraft park that is being developed on vacant across the street from the Cosmosphere. The Polaris was donated to the city in 1964 by the Lawrence Navy League, according to research done by Cosmosphere staff. Christopher Orwoll is the president and CEO of the Cosmosphere, and he is aware of the missile because he has spent some time in Lawrence. He is a former commanding officer of the NROTC unit at Kansas University. The Cosmosphere would restore the missile and presumably say something nice about Lawrence. But, of course, we would be left naked to the Evil Empire. (For those of you who believe the Cold War is over, I would point out that we still have restaurants in this very town that serve square hamburgers, which is clearly Communistic. Think about that.) City commissioners will formally receive the letter from the Cosmosphere at their Tuesday evening meeting. They are expected to refer the item to staff for further review.

• Given this turn of events, perhaps we should enjoy Downtown Lawrence while we still can. From 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, the Watkins Community Museum will be hosting a birthday party for Lawrence. The celebration of Lawrence Founders Day will include birthday cake, kids games, live music and a scavenger hunt that will include $250 in gift certificates from Downtown Lawrence Inc. merchants. The museum is at 11th and Massachusetts streets. The event is one of many going on this weekend downtown. We previously have reported on the MS bike event that will bring about 2,500 bicyclists to Lawrence on Saturday for overnight stay, the strongman (and woman) competition in Watson Park on Saturday, and a music and art event at the Granada on Saturday. There likely are other good, wholesome, American events that I’m not aware of that will be going on this weekend in Lawrence, which has been proudly standing guard against the Red Menace since at least 1964.


Nonsense 6 years, 9 months ago

So let me get this straight. The new building with the nice glassed in roof top will have a great view of the bums urinating in the parking garage.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 9 months ago

The Hutchinson Cosmosphere wants the city of Lawrence to simply "donate" our missile?


Absolutely NO!

The Lawrence city commissioners should notify them that they will meet again to discuss the matter, if and when the Hutchinson Cosmosphere makes a reasonable offer for it.

Many people were complaining that the city is simply giving away so much in the form of property tax rebates, and we simply do not have money for that.

And now, someone is wanting the city to simply give away something that is quite valuable?

Good one.

So, the Lawrence city commissioners should notify the Hutchinson Cosmosphere that they need to make a reasonable offer.

That would be at least One Million Dollars, plus all expenses, and that will be considered later, and there is no guarantee that offer will be accepted.

That might not be enough.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 9 months ago

The City Commissioners' telephone number: 832-3400

If you don't like the idea of the city giving away things, call that number and you can forward your message.

Please be very brief and polite.

Remember, you are going to be talking to someone who is an employee, and that person is busy and does not have time to waste.

Be very clear that it is the missile you are talking about, and a very brief message is sufficient.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 9 months ago

Do NOT call that number! It is OVER!

We have WON! So, we get to keep the missile!

Belinda Rehmer 6 years, 9 months ago

Is the missile still in the park? I thought it was removed years ago...

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 9 months ago

It's a landmark!

Just a couple weeks ago I was giving directions to a friend, and she asked me:

"You mean turn where the missile is?"

Terry Sexton 6 years, 9 months ago

"...and a very brief message is sufficient."
Sound advice, RH. You should try it sometime.

LOL! :-o) (who loves ya, baby?!)

rumor_man 6 years, 9 months ago

I will be chaining myself to the rocket if needed.

puddleglum 6 years, 9 months ago

donate the polaris? NO!

keep it right where it is. It is awesome and I pass it everyday on the way to work.

I love that thing. If you want to donate it, give it to me, I'll keep good care of it.

Bob Forer 6 years, 9 months ago

I don't find the proposed downtown hotel very attractive. The enclosed glass rooftop pool reminds me of a 1950s airport air traffic control tower.

shorttrees 6 years, 9 months ago

Yet another project with insufficient parking?

Apartments with only one car allowed per bedroom= 48 spaces. Plus 81 hotel rooms (there will be times of full occupancy)=129

119 spaces total planned, of which two are drop-off/pick-up spots, 14 are street parking and 10 are "valet" spaces (what about parking for the proposed business and retail?). This doesn't even take into account where the employees will park (city parking garage? street spots?) or any of the restaurant/wine bar customers.

So on a busy weekend with the hotel full, customers in the restaurant and the regular residents of the apartments at home there will be a shortage of at least 36 spaces, possibly a lot more.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 9 months ago

There is plenty of room on the streets for 36 cars to keep on driving around the block until a parking space opens.

And if they keep on driving long enough some of the hotel customers won't need a hotel room anyway, because the sun is coming up.

d_prowess 6 years, 9 months ago

I was thinking the same thing about the strange fact that they would have more rooms than parking spots.
And while I fall into the camp that says there is plenty of parking downtown if you are willing to walk a block of two, I do believe there should be some rules put in place to ensure we don't develop ourselves into a problem. I have to think parking could get a lot tougher for this area when both buildings (the apartment complex under construction and this hotel/apartments) are up and running.

ilovelucy 6 years, 9 months ago

You continually crack me up Chad. You forgot about the Halfway to St. Patrick's Day Saturday night. Lawrence's own Ashley David will perform.

ilovelucy 6 years, 9 months ago

I was laughing so hard I forgot how to spell. That is Ashley Davis.

formerfarmer 6 years, 9 months ago

Where were you all when they took the jet that set next to the missle away for junk.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 9 months ago

Yeah! I loved looking at that thing. It was sold for very little just about 25 years ago, Sarah St. John covered that not very long ago in the 'Old Home Town' column. Only sold for about $600. It was "unsafe", according to someone. The people that bought it thought it was perfectly safe for their kids, though.

Remember the old American LaFrance fire truck that used to be in South Park? At least the city still owns it, it's on a city storage lot somewhere in or close to Lawrence.

fosso 6 years, 9 months ago

Hotel there would be OK I guess. Why not? Polaris missile? Keep. It's a landmark now.

Sad to know that there was a firetruck in South Park that was taken away. I grew up in a town with a locomotive engine like in Watson Park (no fence). Me and my brothers had so much fun exploring every part of that thing. I hate this sue happy society we have grown. Been to plenty of other countries. And they always ask what is different. I always say they lack warning signs, barriers, and lawyers. Which is a very good thing. Guess common sense and intelligence are a little backwards in my "homeland".

Commenting has been disabled for this item.