Archive for Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Town Talk: Sears Hometown store expected to open by Aug. 1; city receives grant for community garden; weekly property sales

April 17, 2012


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News and notes from around town:

• According to the company's advertisements, Sears is its final days of operation in Lawrence. But we reported back in February the company was interested in finding a franchisee to open a Hometown Sears store in Lawrence.

Well, it looks like that interest is turning into reality. Gerald Huston, the Sears executive that oversees the Sears Hometown program in this region, told me he has found a franchisee. He said he now expects to have a Sears Hometown store open by Aug. 1.

The Sears Hometown store is basically a smaller version of a Sears full-line store. The store will carry lawn and garden equipment, major appliances, Craftsmen tools, and other “hard line” items. What it will not carry is clothing, jewelry and other “soft line” products.

If you are familiar with the Sears stores in either Ottawa or Atchison, those are both examples of a Sears Hometown store. But make no mistake, the Sears Hometown stores are much smaller than a traditional Sears store. The Sears building at 2727 Iowa is about 85,000 square feet. The new Sears Hometown store will be closer to 8,000 square feet.

Huston said the company will not use part of the old Sears store to house the new Hometown Sears. Instead, he said he and the franchisee — who he did not identify — are honing in on two locations in town. One is the former Rod’s Hallmark store near 23rd and Iowa Streets and the other is a location near the Ace Westlake hardware store at 23rd and Louisiana.

As for what will become of the Sears building, I’m still hearing that it is a hot commodity, but I haven’t seen any evidence of what eventually will land there. The situation seems a bit confusing though. I’ve been told the Kmart Corp. — Sears’ parent company — controls the property. But according to land records, a company run by Los Angeles real estate investor Elise Sinay Spilker owns the property.

I’ve been told that at least two groups of investors have attempted to purchase the building, but my understanding is both were rebuffed because interest from retailers was high enough that the owners decided to keep the building for rental property. But I don’t know who is driving the bus on this property: Kmart or the Los Angeles group. Either way, speculation was that Dick’s Sporting Goods was interested in the site, but I don’t have anything solid to report on that. It is worth noting that Dick’s Sporting Goods has recently expanded into the St. Joseph, Mo., market, which is similar in size to Lawrence.

• There will be an expansion on a much smaller scale at John Taylor Park in North Lawrence.

The city has received a $4,750 grant through the Kansas Community Gardens Project to improve its new community garden at the location. The grant will provide funding to build fences, signs, garden beds and a tool shed at the site.

The community garden at John Taylor Park, North Seventh and Walnut streets, is part of the city’s new Common Ground program, which aims to promote urban agriculture and locally grown foods. The program is seeking folks who are interested in gardening at one of three locations around town. For more information, click here.

• Another week, another week’s worth of property sales. Click here to see the listing of land transfers as recorded by the Douglas County Register of Deeds for the week ending April 9.


kansasredlegs 6 years, 2 months ago

Chad: Look at the last transaction of property exchanges. Seems that "parking stalls" are for sale in the downtown Lawrence. Are these parking stalls associated with the new downtown construction? Probably wouldn't have even caught it, but the buyer's name got my attention.

Take_a_letter_Maria 6 years, 2 months ago

If the two gentlemen listed as purchasing parking spots purchased lofts in the Hobbs-Taylor building, and, if they needed to park more than the number of vehicles that their individual living units allowed them to receive parking spots for on the property, it would make sense that they purchased an extra parking spot from the party that controls the land.

Chad Lawhorn 6 years, 2 months ago

Based on the ownership group, I am pretty confident the parking stall is for Hobbs Taylor Lofts. The lofts have a private garage below the building. When you own a condo, I believe you also "own" a parking spot. Regardless, it is not a public parking spot that has been sold. But I noticed the name too. Apparently Scott Pollard has a home in Downtown Lawrence. Thanks, Chad

hildirid 6 years, 2 months ago

Scot Pollard the basketball player spells his first name with only one "t." Either it's somebody else, or the document at the registry of deeds is in error (and then what does that mean?)

EJ Mulligan 6 years, 2 months ago

Thanks for another good column. A couple of questions: Is the new 23rd St. Frozen Yogurt store at 23rd and Louisiana owned by the Orange Leaf or Three Spoons people, or is it separate?

Will El Mezcal on Iowa St. reopen as El Mezcal, or are they changing it to something else? The signs say "Closed for remodeling."

Chad Lawhorn 6 years, 2 months ago

I believe the Frozen Yogurt store in the Louisiana Purchase Shopping Center is owned by the same people who own Peking Taste. When I was reporting on the future of Peking Taste a few months ago, one of the representatives of the business said they planned on using part of the storefront for a frozen yogurt business.

On El Mezcal, I'll have to do some checking. Thanks, Chad

jhawkinsf 6 years, 2 months ago

Speaking of 23rd. & Louisiana, there was mention a while back that the furniture rental store there was moving into the old Blockbuster building. Any update? Any rumors about other long vacant buildings?

Chad Lawhorn 6 years, 2 months ago

The rental business had filed a site plan at City Hall to occupy that building, but I'm guessing something has hit a snag because the last time I drove by there was still a "for lease" sign in the building, and it appeared no activity. I'll see if I can get someone to tell me more. As for other buildings, I'm always keeping my eyes open. I'll have some news in tomorrow's Town Talk about Ross, the discount clothing store chain coming to Lawrence. It appears the speculation we reported a few months ago about that company has some legs. Thanks, Chad

BigAl 6 years, 2 months ago

I think I saw this same thing on a turnpike bathroom wall.

tomatogrower 6 years, 2 months ago

Huston said the company will not use part of the old Sears store to house the new Hometown Sears. Instead, he said he and the franchisee — who he did not identify — are honing in on two locations in town. One is the former Rod’s Hallmark store near 23rd and Iowa Streets and the other is a location near the Ace Westlake hardware store at 23rd and Louisiana.

The one near Westlakes, although they will be competing for Craftman tools. That's my vote.

kusp8 6 years, 2 months ago

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