Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

City says 9th, N.H. hotel project making progress

April 24, 2012


New plans for a multistory hotel project at Ninth and New Hampshire streets are moving in the right direction, Lawrence city commissioners indicated Tuesday.

“This is a process in my opinion that is working,” Mayor Bob Schumm said. “It is not complete yet. It is still a process that has more opportunity and agony to go. So hang in there.”

A development group led by Lawrence businessmen Doug Compton and Mike Treanor on Monday confirmed they have agreed to reduce the height of a proposed hotel/retail building on the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets by one story.

On Tuesday, city commissioners received a brief presentation on the project, which is slated to be heard by the city’s Historic Resources Commission at a special meeting Monday.

Commissioners took no votes related to the proposed design of the building but did tell members of the crowd that the design was changed after the developers were informed a larger version of the project likely did not have enough votes to win approval.

“I have been concerned about the project all along in terms of its size and its financial aspects,” Schumm said.

The previous design called for the building to include hotel, apartment and retail uses. It would have been six stories tall at the corner of Ninth and New Hampshire and five stories along much of its western edge that faces New Hampshire Street.

The newly proposed design will reduce the height by one story along the western edge and will remove the apartment use from the project. The eastern edge of the building — the edge closest to a historic neighborhood along Rhode Island street — is proposed to be three stories tall.

Neighbors on Tuesday didn’t offer any specific comments related to the new design but told commissioners they thought the project was moving much too quickly with the specially scheduled Historic Resources Commission meeting set for Monday.

“We want it to slow down so we can sit down and really talk about what these plans mean,” said Katherine Harris, who lives just east of the location for the project.

Monday’s Historic Resources Commission meeting will focus only on the proposed building for the southeast corner of the intersection. The development group on Monday also confirmed that it hopes to build a multistory apartment building, likely with 90 to 120 apartments, on the northeast corner of the intersection, where Black Hills Energy currently has its offices.

But Lawrence attorney Dan Watkins, who is representing the developers, said plans for that project haven’t yet been filed and likely won’t be anytime soon.

A spokesman for Black Hills on Tuesday confirmed the natural gas utility was in the process of finalizing a deal to transfer the property over to Compton’s First Management Inc. Black Hills then would move into First Management’s executive offices on North Iowa Street.

Black Hills spokesman Curt Floerchinger said he didn’t yet have a timeline for when the office may move because the deal has not yet been finalized. But Floerchinger said the company does plan to move its maintenance operations from its shop facility near Eighth and Delaware streets. The new North Iowa Street facility will allow the administrative offices and operations division of the company to be located at the same site.

“Our goal in relocating is to bring the office and operations personnel together,” Floerchinger said. “When they are separated, it does create some challenges.”

But Floerchinger said Black Hills will maintain ownership of the east Lawrence maintenance shop property, which is near the rapidly redeveloping area surrounding the Poehler building.

“We’re exploring our options on that property,” Floerchinger said. “We don’t have anything planned at the moment.”

Floerchinger said the move of the Black Hills offices, which houses about 40 Black Hills employees, won’t affect customers.

“It will be a seamless move for our customers,” Floerchinger said. “We won’t skip a beat in the service we provide.”


Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston joins us to talk about his new book, "Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (And Stick You with the Bill)." Johnston reveals how government subsidies and new regulations have quietly funneled money from the local poor and the local middle class to the rich and politically connected.

Thursday radio news revealed that nationwide property values continue to decline. No doubt in Lawrence there are still plenty of homeowners and some commercial property owners that still owe more than properties will bring. A product of reckless borrowing and lending.

Please note: Money, Power and Wall Street On April 24 and May 1, FRONTLINE tells the inside story of the global financial crisis.

Financial journalists, Occupy Wall Street activists and even a senior economic adviser to President Obama all took to the internet to talk about last night’s broadcast of the first half of "Money, Power and Wall Street."

The financial meltdown is still in progress.


Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

Flooding this market may not make sense either. Recently it was noted that low interest money was a culprit involved in the "boom town economy" that failed the world economy. Why and how? Because both lenders and borrowers show no restraint thus encouraging reckless activity not only with lenders but also developers.

Case in point:

Retail chains are cutting back.

America is Over Stored

America Is Over Stored ( Do Lawrence,Kansas planners,Chamber of Commerce and city government not realize this?)

The Wall Street bankers boom town economics building frenzy produced a bumper crop of new retail space. But the occupants haven't materialized.

The carnage in retail hasn't been this bad since an anarchist bombed Chicago's Haymarket Square in 1886. In January, Liz Claiborne said it would shutter 54 Sigrid Olsen stores by mid-2008; Ann Taylor announced that 117 of its 921 stores would be closed over the next three years, and Talbots axed the Talbots Men's and Talbots Kids concepts and 22 Talbots stores. Even Starbucks has scaled back its yearlong saturation-bombing campaign.

But back out inflation and sales of gasoline, and retail sales fell in real terms in the past year. Clearly, demand is down And supply is up.



cheeseburger 1 year, 12 months ago

'New plans for a multistory hotel project at Ninth and New Hampshire streets are moving in the right direction'

Wonder if that means certain palms are becoming sufficiently greased. . . .


baldwinjhawk 1 year, 12 months ago

I would love to live downtown and the more people down there the livelier it will be. As far as the east lawrence historic district? wth? Most of those homes over there are dumps. Clean up your yards folks and learn how to use a paint brush. Most of those homes would get zoning citations in Baldwin. If you want to protect your historic district try cleaning it up first!


KansasLiberal 1 year, 12 months ago

Are either of these projects necessary? I live in Topeka so I don't know anything about the Lawrence rental market, but does Lawrence really need 90-120 new apartments downtown? Do you really need a third hotel downtown? And would either one have adequate parking? That block of New Hampshire is pretty much ruined anyway so some people might say "why not add a couple more tall monstrosities to the street?" but Lawrence's cool little downtown is slowly chipped away when you do that. Maybe I'm missing something, but I just don't see the need for either of these projects to go forward.


Emily Hampton 1 year, 12 months ago

"New plans for a multistory hotel project at Ninth and New Hampshire streets are moving in the right direction." Is this the OPINION of LJWorld staff? Nice unbiased reporting.

Has no one else noticed all of the already existing EMPTY apartments in downtown Lawrence???


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 12 months ago

The HRC isn't going to approve this, either. They've already stated that any project on these lots has to be done on the same scale as the Arts Center, which would likely mean no more than three stories on NH, and two stories on the alley.

So the the final decision will still likely be made by the city commission.

Here's a potential compromise-- four stories on NH, two stories on the alley, and a skywalk that will tie this building with the latest one proposed across the street. The restaurant could be on the fifth floor of that building on the NE corner. I don't see any reason why the functions of the hotel, restaurant and apartments couldn't be spread across the two buildings, and thus allow a more appropriately sized development on the SE corner.


JackMcKee 1 year, 12 months ago

If TIF is such a great thing why not extend it to everyone? I really want to build a new 5,0000 sq ft dream house on a vacant lot. It will create lots of jobs and increase the value of the surrounding property. Give me 10 years off from paying property tax and I will build it. I'll even put a rock park on part of the property for public use. What do you say Lawrence?


repaste 1 year, 12 months ago

They kick back taxes, Lawrence also gives 1%, Many TIF projects greatly increase area property values because they were meant as a mechanism to help develop blighted areas. Kansas City Kansas, the Racetrack area is a great example of the intended use. I agree the project might be good, Recent studies have shown that the "kickback" of property tax has resulted in a decrease in total taxes collected. Maybe there is a long term benefit, I don't know. There be more proper ways to assist these connected developers, cities need developers because they do, well, develop!


Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 12 months ago

Just to make sure everyone understands how a t.I.f. works: "TIF is a method to use future gains in taxes to subsidize current improvements, which are projected to create the conditions for said gains. The completion of a public project often results in an increase in the value of surrounding real estate, which generates additional tax revenue. Sales-tax revenue may also increase, and jobs may be added, although these factors and their multipliers usually do not influence the structure of TIF." -wiki The city does not give the builder money to build the building, the city kicks back a portion of the newly created property tax for a limited time. In other words, the city will make a lot more money with the building using the tif then it currently does with an empty lot. Some may speculate that something will be built there eventually but this is a huge bird in the hand and in these tough economic times I feel it would be foolish to stop this project.


repaste 1 year, 12 months ago

Many states have passed laws to prevent TIF funding for viable projects, it was created in California to help develop blighted areas. California was the first to pass a law preventing it from being used as a handout to well-connected developers on valuable real estate. Lawrence has 2 of the 17 TIF districts in Kansas, they are in 2 of the most valuable real estate locations in town. People go crazy when they hear of a 1% increase in taxes for public transit, schools, etc.,but this money goes straight to some of our most wealthy citizens, and gets little mention . Some say you have a choice to spend there, I would be confident 98% that spend in these districts have no idea they are donating money/paying extra to pad personal bank accounts. The projects may be good, but they don't meet the intended requirements for TIF.


JackMcKee 1 year, 12 months ago

Build all the new apartments in town on Vermont, Mass and NH. I'm all for concentrating it in one part of town. Makes good sense in a lot of ways.

I'd still like my TIF for my new abode though.


Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 12 months ago

All the downtown retailers who provide jobs and tax revenue for our city will be thrilled hear that more apartments are being built in the area. Since the new apartments building if fully rented, it appears renters want to live downtown and not on the edge the city which is great news for all the business owners.


bozo_the_clown 1 year, 12 months ago

the sooner they start building the better, i'm tired of seeing that ugly, muddy, vacant lot


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