Archive for Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Town Talk: Burger King starts work in northwest Lawrence; new building numbers show industry down from a year ago; neighborhood pride set in stone

September 27, 2011


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News and notes from around Lawrence and Douglas County:

• Whopper fans, let your hearts rest easy. (Actually, if you are a fan of a Whopper on a regular basis, you might want to get them checked.) Burger King indeed is building a new restaurant along Sixth Street in northwest Lawrence. In fact — coincidentally, I’m sure — it is kind of in front of Free State High School where hundreds of kids each day are released over lunch hour to roam in what has become the city’s largest outdoor food court. (I wonder what the economic impact of the school district’s lunch policy is in Lawrence.) The restaurant is set to locate on the northeast corner of Sixth Street and Champion Lane. If you are having a hard time picturing that location, it is the main entrance into the Bauer Farm Development that includes CVS, SmashBurger, Taco Bell and other establishments. But Burger King will be farther east than all of those. It will be the first restaurant in the development that is east of Champion Lane. We reported back in February that Burger King had signed a deal to build on the site, and then there was a whole bunch of nothing. But now dirt is being moved on the site, and the good folks at the city’s building inspections department confirmed that Burger King has pulled a building permit to start construction on the restaurant. No word on when it may open, but I would expect for the project to take six months or so.

• I’ll beat some of the commenters to the punch here and bring up the issue of the special taxing district that exists in that area. First, I’m not sure the Burger King is part of the special taxing district that charges an extra 1 percent sales tax in the area. But I think it is. (Then again, my wife tells me all the time I don’t need to think. She’ll do that for me.) But based on the map that is part of this plan, I think it is in. There has been a lot of discussion about these taxing districts, so I thought this might be a good time to clear up a couple of things. I get comments somewhat regularly about how many special taxing districts have sprung up in Lawrence. Actually, there are only two. This one and the one that covers The Oread. What you’re probably thinking of is there has been a lot of discussion about adding other ones — with the area near 23rd and Ousdahl streets topping the list.

Also, there has been a lot of discussion about how these special taxes can be used by the developer to pay for almost anything — to build a building, to hire security guards, to do marketing. That is true with one type of special tax, called a Community Improvement District tax. But Lawrence doesn’t have any of those — yet. Instead, the two that we have are called Transportation Development District taxes. Those special taxes only can be used to help pay for streets, sidewalks and other transportation-related type of infrastructure that usually ends up being owned by the city but paid for by the developer. In this case, the developers of the Bauer Farm area are expecting to generate $4.6 million in special taxes over the course of 22 years that would reduce how much they have to pay for streets and such. Developers would pay for the rest of the costs, and I found these numbers as I was digging around for a map. They’re kind of interesting because you don’t often get to see the specific numbers for a private development, but city officials required the developers to submit them when the city approved this special taxing district in 2008. According to the plan, acquiring the property along Sixth Street cost $2.8 million, building roads, sidewalks and other site improvements cost $13.6 million (this is the category where the developer’s cost will be reduced by $4.6 million courtesy of the special taxes), constructing the buildings cost $41.8 million, and paying for various professional services required for the project cost $2.8 million. That’s a total of $61.1 million, with $56.5 coming from the developer and $4.6 coming from the special tax over the course of 22 years.

I know, none of this matters to some of you. It is a new tax and you don’t like it.

• Speaking of building permits (remember, we mentioned one earlier), new numbers are out for the month of August. The numbers show building activity picked up a bit during the month. The city issued 14 single-family building permits in August, which believe it or not made it the second busiest month of the year when it came to building new homes in Lawrence. For the entire year, however, builders are still behind last year’s pace. The city has issued permits for 80 single-family or duplex units through the first eight months of this year. During the first eight months of 2010, they had issued 105. For those of you without one of those fancy, high-tech watch calculators (those are still in style, right), that’s a 23 percent decline in home building activity. And just to keep up my persona as a ray of sunshine, I’ll remind you that last year was considered a bad year for the home building industry. Overall, the total amount of projects — including commercial projects, remodeling projects, public projects — is doing a better job of keeping up with last year’s pace. The city has issued permits for $62 million worth of projects thus far. That’s down slightly from the $64.2 million during the same time period a year ago. (That’s right. Slightly. I’m not going to give you a percentage. Buy your own calculator watch.)

• Who said neighborhood pride was on the decline in Lawrence? (It was you, wasn’t it?) Well, if you are in the Hillcrest Neighborhood near KU, you’ll need to eat those words. The Hillcrest Neighborhood Association wants to install a sign at the intersection of Ninth Street and Highland Drive. It will say “Welcome to the Hillcrest Neighborhood.” The sign will include landscaping with perennials, shrubs and a short-stacked rock wall. City commissioners at their meeting tonight are scheduled to approve the sign and allow city right-of-way to be used for the project.


Clickker 6 years, 8 months ago

Whopper = best burger ever made. Book it!!

Cant wait

flyin_squirrel 6 years, 8 months ago

$61.1 Million, with the developer paying $56.5, and $4.6 coming from the taxing district... Wow, I can see why people are saying the developers are getting rich off these tax incentives... (note the sarcasm)

kef104 6 years, 8 months ago

Let's see, according to Rocky (the flying squirrel) nobody gets rich because the taxpayers give an extra $209,000 to them, per year, for 22 years. Yet lots of people would consider that a pretty good lottery win. Oh, this is not money going to poor folks. This is money going to folks that already have much more than anyone else. It is not going to our library or our police. It is going to further line pockets of folks that really do not need the money, they just like having it. Who can blame them. Wanting extra money is not a crime, although taxing the rest of us so they can have it should be.
FYI: I am pretty sure the tax rate is an extra 2%, not 1% as the article suggests. Nothing like a nearly 11% tax in good old Kansas. On the positive side, at least food is not taxed and our property taxes are extra low. (Now that is sarcasm.)

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 8 months ago

"I am pretty sure the tax rate is an extra 2%, not 1% as the article suggests."

Wrong. Very wrong.

You should do some research before making claims that are based only upon your incorrect opinion.

clipped from:

"In Lawrence, there are two areas where an additional sales tax is charged. There is currently a 1-cent Transportation Development District (TDD) sales tax in the following locations: ,,,, The Oread Hotel ,,,,, Bauer Farms "

kef104 6 years, 8 months ago

Ron, for the record, I was not stating an incorrect opinion. I may have made a statement based on incorrect prior information, but it was not a random tossed opinion. I did contact Smashburger and confirmed they are only charging 9.85% tax. So it is not as bad as it could have been, but it is still too much.

FYI here is an article that confirms the special taxes can be up to 2%:

Much like our local schools and property taxes, it is only a matter of time before they will be maxed out. And can anybody remember when a temporary sales tax did not become permanent? I am sure it has happened somewhere, someplace, at sometime, just not often.

People pay taxes, the city is short on money, and this extra tax is not going to the city. You better believe other taxes and fees will go up to compensate. For example, our water bills will be going up to compensate the city for lost tax revenue as per yesterdays LJW. Also, pretending like this is all new money is a joke. It is only new money if it is spent by those who do not normally reside or live here. Otherwise it is a shift in money being spent from one place to another. For example, spending money at the new Burger King instead of the old, closed one, is not spending new money. It would only be new money if one usually drove to Topeka to eat at Burger King. Also, if the community as a whole gets a pay raise, then it might be considered new money, but our current economic situation says that is not happening.

Have at it friends........

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 8 months ago

I live right across the street from the Bauer Farms tax district and I never, ever buy anything there because of that extra tax!

kshiker 6 years, 8 months ago

You will also note that the new sales tax revenue would not have existed anyway but for the construction of the new business using the incentive. As a community, I think we should be focused on obtaining those sales tax dollars instead of seeing traffic increasingly going to the Legends, Topeka or Johnson County.

When we attract a new retail business to locate here because of a CID or TDD taxing district, we are working to increase our incredibly pathetic retail pull factor of 1.022, which ranked us 19th out of 25 first class cities in the state. Every new retail business or restaurant that locates in our community increases our retail pull factor and creates a menu of opportunities for interested consumers.

Finally, the 1% or 2% in additional sales taxes collected by a business in a CID or TDD do not take any revenue away from any local government. The taxes are levied on top of the existing tax and 100% of the normal sales taxes collected go to the various governmental entities that share the tax.

Bob Forer 6 years, 8 months ago

"You will also note that the new sales tax revenue would not have existed anyway but for the construction of the new business using the incentive."

You are assuming that all the new businesses are generating new retail sales instead of simply cannibalizing the retail dollar that, absent the new business, would still have been spent, albeit at another local business.

Do you really think the presence of Burger King will increase retail spending in Lawrence? Perhaps marginally, given the fact that some High Schools student may opt for Burger King over school cafeteria fare, but my guess is that they will mostly attract business that would have spent the same dollar at another restaurant in town.

Brad Barker 6 years, 8 months ago

Dear Chick-Fil-A: Please oh please open a location at Bauer Farm! NW corner of 6th and Wakarusa seems perfect.

Maddy Griffin 6 years, 8 months ago

Boycotting Burger King until they stop refusing to serve the protesters occupying Wall Street.

CreatureComforts 6 years, 8 months ago

I'm sure they'll notice the difference to their bottom line

John Pultz 6 years, 8 months ago

It is a health risk to children to have fast-food so close to Free State High School. Researchers have found that the incidence of obesity increases for students in schools that are within 530 feet, i.e, easy walking distance, of a fast-food restaurant. Perhaps we can study to see if LHS students are slimmer than those at FSHS. Even better, why can't the city work to prevent this sort of health disaster.

Read this from the L.A. Times in 2009:

Study links student obesity to distance from fast food Low-cost, high-cal eateries near schools increase the odds, researchers say. March 23, 2009|Jerry Hirsch

Barely 300 feet separate Fullerton Union High School from a McDonald's restaurant on Chapman Avenue. Researchers say that's boosting the odds that its students will be super-sized.

Teens who attend classes within one-tenth of a mile of a fast-food outlet are more likely to be obese than peers whose campuses are located farther from the lure of quarter-pound burgers, fries and shakes.

Those are the findings of a recent study by researchers from UC Berkeley and Columbia University seeking a link between obesity and the easy availability of fast food. The academics studied body-fat data from more than 1 million California ninth-graders over an eight-year period, focusing on the proximity of the school to well-known chains including McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.

Their conclusion: Fast food and young waistlines make lousy neighbors.

The presence of an outlet within easy walking distance of a high school -- about 530 feet or less -- resulted in a 5.2% increase in the incidence of student obesity compared with the average for California youths, a correlation deemed "sizable" according to the findings.

The complete article: and the research paper itself:

Tom Hilger 6 years, 8 months ago

Students and faculty of LHS, Burger King is discriminating against you by not building a restaurant close to your school. You are being denied easy access to artery choking food, obesity and a host of other health problems.

meduncan42 6 years, 8 months ago

Speaking of Burger King, what are they building in the location of the former Burger King on 23rd street?

Jean Robart 6 years, 8 months ago

It's a food store-Last I heard it is a specialty food store--little competition for Dillons. But don't you read the paper? It has been mentioned several times.

blindrabbit 6 years, 8 months ago

Just add to the dumbed down architecture that has developed along North side West 6th, CVS. Smashburger, Verizon etc. And we thought 23rd. Street was crass; makes Walmart look like a "gem"

he_who_knows_all 6 years, 8 months ago

Nothing looks more "urban architecture style" than a Burger King.

he_who_knows_all 6 years, 8 months ago

My arteries are closing just thinking about a BK Whopper.

Stuart Evans 6 years, 8 months ago

dear Burger King local franchise manager/owner; Your store(s) suck. The one off the turnpike in North Lawrence is a disgrace. The service is slow, and most of the employees could care less. It's clearly a top down problem, as the managers are no better. I prefer the BK food over McD, but McD is leaps and bounds over BK in service.

iamlindy 6 years, 8 months ago

"Burger King". I would hope the new one will serve fresh food. Not like the one at 23rd that when visited you would get a heat lamped, shriveled bun, old fries and I could go on and on. It didn't matter what time what day what week or what month.

somedude20 6 years, 8 months ago

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

bangaranggerg 6 years, 8 months ago

Lowes, Taco Bell, Burger King, CVS and an unattactive strip mall.. Wow, this Bauer Farms project sure became a joke fast.

somedude20 6 years, 8 months ago

BK food is so so so gross but I rather enjoy dressing up life the Sneak King and breaking in my friends houses around 3am and scaring em!! Sting said if you love someone set them free but I say if you know someone, scare the holy ghosts out of em! Why the Sneak King mask is great for loving your ladies too. Put it on, read some French stereo instructions have lots of nacho cheese dip around.

Sneak King Sneak King!!!!

bearded_gnome 6 years, 8 months ago

Boycotting Burger King until they stop refusing to serve the protesters occupying Wall Street.

---good reason to support Burger King then.

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