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.”