Archive for Monday, April 23, 2012

Developers plan to shorten proposed hotel at Ninth and New Hampshire, while planning 80-foot building across the street

April 23, 2012


Seeking a compromise with concerned neighbors, developers have submitted plans to shorten the height of a proposed hotel building at the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets.

The development group, though, also has proposed building a nearly 80-foot multistory apartment building at the northeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets, where the offices for Black Hills Energy currently are located.

“This all comes from discussions we have had with some city commissioners who have urged us to try to reach a compromise with the neighbors on the building height,” said Bill Fleming, an attorney for the development group led by Lawrence businessmen Doug Compton and Mike Treanor. “That has been the main driver on this.”

The development group sent a letter to city officials Monday afternoon providing general details of proposed changes. The letter also asks the City Commission to defer a host of actions related to the project that are on Tuesday’s commission agenda. Among the details provided about the project:

• The building on the southeast corner would be three stories on its eastern edge, the edge closest to a historic neighborhood. That height is unchanged from the last plan presented. The height along the western edge of the building, the part closest to New Hampshire Street, would drop by one story, compared with what previously has been proposed. Much of the western edge would be four stories, the developers contend, while the portion nearest Ninth and New Hampshire would be five stories and would house a top-floor restaurant.

In addition to an approximately 80-room hotel, the building will have ground-floor retail space that developers hope will attract a grocery store. As previously proposed, the building will include two floors of below-ground parking.

• A proposed building at the northeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire would house 90 to 120 apartments. A concept plan submitted to the city estimates the building would be 79 feet tall, making it about 5 feet taller than the Hobbs Taylor Lofts building at Eighth and New Hampshire and about 9 feet shorter than the recently constructed apartment building at 901 N.H.

Fleming said Compton had signed a preliminary deal with Black Hills Energy to take over the property at the northeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire. Black Hills Energy would receive Compton’s office complex on North Iowa Street. Fleming cautioned the deal hasn’t yet be finalized, but it would allow for Compton to move the headquarters of his First Management Inc. onto the second floor of the 901 N.H. building, and would clear the way for the construction of the new apartment building. An attempt to reach a spokesman for Black Hills wasn’t immediately successful.

The new building would include room for a bank and commercial space on the ground floor. It also would include two levels of below-ground parking. Unlike the property on the southeast corner, the building is not adjacent to a neighborhood but rather has office buildings to its east.

• Both new buildings will seek tax-increment financing and the creation of a transportation-development district that will partially reimburse developers for expenses related to the private, below-ground parking and public infrastructure expenses related to the project.

Leslie Soden, president of the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association, said her group would be closely reviewing the new plans in the next several days. The new plans for the southeast corner are scheduled to be heard by the city’s Historic Resources Commission at a special April 30 meeting. Plans for the northeast corner haven’t yet been submitted, and likely won’t receive a review from the city for several weeks.

City Manager David Corliss said the developers have been working with city planners for the last several weeks on the southeast corner. He said the city’s historic resources staff is expected to recommend approval of the new plans to the Historic Resources Commission. If the Historic Resources Commission rejects the plans, the issue can be appealed to the Lawrence City Commission.

“I appreciate the developers’ responses to a number of concerns related to the height of the building,” Corliss said. “I think there are some exciting opportunities for improvements in downtown.”


Susan Rickman 6 years, 1 month ago

I suppose we'll just never see the light again.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 1 month ago mean the people who lived there...gasp...first?

I'm not sympathetic about the "shade" issue...but I still think you're being a total twit with comments like this one. Yeesh.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 1 month ago

Read your own original comment again...then try some actual thinking about what you literally wrote.

deec 6 years ago

Did they buy or rent before Dougie bought the land to ramrod through his corporate welfare schemes?

1southernjayhawk 6 years, 1 month ago

Hopefully, you will see the light after Obama is removed from office.

FlintlockRifle 6 years, 1 month ago

Tie in the east half of the south by-pass while we are working on this, kinda like the pres and his gang are doing to the health bill

pizzapete 6 years, 1 month ago

Interesting how this "compromise" includes an additional highrise building in the same area and more incentives for the new building, too. Kinda like someone saying, how about instead of me owing you $20 you pay me $60 and we'll call it even.

Hudson Luce 6 years, 1 month ago

"Both new buildings will seek tax-increment financing and the creation of a transportation-development district that will partially reimburse developers for expenses related to the private, below-ground parking and public infrastructure expenses related to the project."

I don't care what Doug Compton does with his own money but I'd prefer him to keep his hands out of my bank account.

Vinny1 6 years, 1 month ago

Sorry you live on the back of New Hampshire street, but that property is zoned differently, and it doesn't have to be single story homes. Sorry you won't have a nice field to go play in anymore, but that's the way it is. You don't like it...too bad. Lawrence needs to keep developing near Mass St. This is a good idea in a place that needs it, start building.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

Seems to me you have the crybaby schtick well under control.

Loretta James 6 years, 1 month ago

they ought to make them make some of the rentals for low-income they are pricing the poor out of housing in this town

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

"but it would allow for Compton to move the headquarters of his First Management Inc. onto the second floor of the 901 N.H. building,"

FM's move downtown is already well under way.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

If they'd reduce the height at the alley to two stories, and get rid of the fifth floor for the restaurant, they might get the neighborhood to go along. Otherwise, they're stilly trying to shoehorn a project that's just too big for this location.

Why not put apartments on the south side, two stories of them at the alley, and three at NH St., and put the hotel on the north side, including a few apartments?

Lenette Hamm 6 years, 1 month ago

That corner is going to resemble downtown Kansas City far too soon. What's wrong with the city commissioners, allowing this kind of building to continue going on???

jhawkinsf 6 years, 1 month ago

How much money will these buildings pump into the local economy? How many carpenters, plumbers, electricians, laborers, etc. will be hired during construction and at what rate will they be paid? How many jobs will be created by the hotel and restaurant? How many properties will lose how much sunlight as the result of the building? How many people live in those homes? The developers are asking for tax incentives that amount to how many dollars? The increased business activity will generate how much additional tax revenue into the city?

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 1 month ago

Why don't you tell us??? I mean, the figures do exist.

So please tell us, say, how many ADDITIONAL dollars a new restaurant brings into Lawrence. Because that is the operative figure...ADDITIONAL dollars. Whoops.

Or please tell, say, how many ADDITIONAL dollars a new apartment building brings into Lawrence. Because that is the operative figure...ADDITIONAL dollars. Whoops again.

And please...oh please...oh please...tell us why we tax payers have to INCREASE the profits of developers who are only in this business to make money??? it because you think the developers won't bother with the project without tax breaks paid for by the rest of us??? Wouldn't that make you think twice about the viability of this project???

But! If the project is still viable without tax breaks, then...GUESS WHAT??? The construction workers will still be hired and they still will get paid! OMG!!!

The tax breaks are ONLY to decrease the developers' costs and increase their profits.

Which brings us to the most important question of all...why the heck should we tax payers be expected to increase the profitability of the developers??? It's not OUR responsibility to guarantee or increase their profits.

THEY are the speculators, for crying out loud. Not us.

parrothead8 6 years, 1 month ago

Where is it said to "do nothing?" What I saw was a call for the taxpayers not to be responsible for the profits of the developers. How is that doing nothing?

hujiko 6 years, 1 month ago

Putting up buildings just because you can doesn't make it a city.

coloradoan 6 years, 1 month ago

Actually, I was thinking with these proposed buildings and about five more, downtown Lawrence will look a lot like downtown Topeka. Wow. Maybe nobody will want to come to downtown Lawrence then either.

Boog Highberger 6 years, 1 month ago

This isn't an argument for or against either project, but as far as I can see there is nothing remotely like either of these projects in downtown Topeka. Downtown Topeka is dead because a great deal of its street level space is office buildings and parking garages, and there are very few residences downtown-- there's no place to walk to and nobody to do the walking. In addition to that, it's sandwiched between an interstate highway and a bunch of government office buildings. These projects have retail on the street level and include residences, and the proposed parking structures take up almost no street frontage.

coloradoan 6 years ago

That's the problem Boog - nobody ever looks at the dynamic, the trend, the possible alternative outcomes. Topeka's downtown was thriving before the White Lakes mall was built, and the slide began when that was built. The West Ridge mall finished downtown and White Lakes both. The downtown Topeka has some recent taller projects attempting to blend the lofts and condos with first floor retail; pretty much still vacant.

What is it about the Lawrence downtown that attracts people (customers)? I'd say it is - in part - the low profile of the buildings, the approachable nature of the architecture, and the openness. It is a pleasant place to be. When you start closing it in with taller buildings, notwithstanding the intent to use the ground level for retail, it seems to me at least to be a less pleasant place to shop and live.

Downtown Lawrence has already lost over the years certain key venues that made it a great place - Adventure Books, heck even Borders, Penny Annies, Ben & Jerry's, Everything But Ice, Joe's Bakery and others. The mix is shifting toward more bars and fewer retailers - especially locally-owned ones.

Topeka replaced older buildings with garbage like the building that KPERs is officed in, and the low modern brick building across from it, and many others. The nature of the place makes it less amenable to walking and shopping, even when there were still a few shops.

Topeka has West Ridge and the Wanamaker corridor; Lawrence has South Iowa and the West 6th and Wakarusa developments. How does the downtown survive these? Look to Fort Collins and other areas that have succeeded for ideas.

Just something to consider.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 1 month ago

For crying out loud...why should we taxpayers pay anything for this????

We do NOT owe developers a profit. Not only that, but we also do not owe developers a better chance of a profit...or for it to cost them less to achieve a profit.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 1 month ago

You're using the same argument that was used when developers asked for abatements at the old Masonic Temple and the proposed Olive Garden on Iowa St. How's that working out for the developers or the city? How's that working out for the tradesmen that didn't get hired? How's that working out for the city coffers that are not getting an infusion of revenue from new business? Rather than seeking lose/lose situations, why not seek win/win situations? Just because a developer makes a profit doesn't mean the city must lose. Of course, the city should only do these things if it makes economic sense for the city. But winning situations should not be avoided just because a developer also makes a profit.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

What you're asking for is "developer wins, neighbors lose."

And this plutocrat worship stuff, really, jay. Just because Compton wants to build another monument to himself so that workers can picket him again for paying crap wages, what it's in it for you to kiss his backside?

jhawkinsf 6 years, 1 month ago

I have no interest whatsoever in that project or any other that I mentioned. No one close to me is a carpenter, plumber or electrician.
I would like to see them, and others employed and using their wages in local businesses, as I believe that benefits us all.
And while I sympathize with the plight of neighbors, if their numbers are sufficiently small and the benefits are to many more, then that's the price we all sometimes have to pay for living in cities.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

No one is saying that these lots can't be developed. Just that this proposal is the wrong one for this location.

gccs14r 6 years, 1 month ago

Perhaps Compton should have to finally do something with the Masonic Temple before he gets any more concessions (or building permits) from the city. Maybe add a blight clause to the code that states that no developer can pull a permit for any new or non-blighted project until all blighted properties under his ownership/control are cleaned up and functioning or sold.

lunacydetector 6 years, 1 month ago

oh goody, maybe they can bring back the old a&p grocery that closed down 40 years ago -where that boarded up building has sat empty for years at 11th & mass.

you'd think the long term never been rented ever at hobb's loft's is a warning. maybe the developer will start his own grocery store.

lunacydetector 6 years, 1 month ago

it still sits empty after 7 years. it cost less to build than today. it didn't receive any taxpayer incentives. should be primed for the picking, but it's not. notice ownerships have to essentially rent from themselves...the bank, the management company?

Frederic Gutknecht IV 6 years, 1 month ago

Doug, could you finish the Wescoe Hall skyscraper for us? We want the tallest building in the WORLD! It could house a Coca-Cola factory, chicken production floors, bars, coed collaborative spaces. If we can simply declare anything above the 30th floor as "off campus" (a.k.a the radar...wink...wink), then the sky is truly the limit for this tax enhanced and ruler approved structure. I do think we should change the name from Wescoe Hall to Plutarchy Gardens.

JackMcKee 6 years, 1 month ago

I want to build a new house. The project will create at least 10 jobs and will increase the tax base. Can I get some TIF too, Lawrence?

Sharon Nottingham 6 years, 1 month ago

Bella Sera has plenty of housing units available. It is uncongested and has a nice view. Downtowns charm is diminishing by the mason stone.

pizzapete 6 years, 1 month ago

If we really want to bring more people downtown I think a large ferris wheel on one corner and a petting zoo with lots of zebras on the other would be a better option. And instead of the city giving Doug half a million in tax breaks how about giving every homeowner a year free of paying property taxes on our houses?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.