Archive for Monday, April 30, 2012

Revised Ninth and New Hampshire project still fails review

April 30, 2012


This rendering provided by Treanor Architects shows the revised building plan for a project at Ninth and New Hampshire streets, directly north of the existing Lawrence Arts Center. The plan was rejected Monday, April 30, 2012, by the Historic Resources Commission.

This rendering provided by Treanor Architects shows the revised building plan for a project at Ninth and New Hampshire streets, directly north of the existing Lawrence Arts Center. The plan was rejected Monday, April 30, 2012, by the Historic Resources Commission.

Close is not close enough.

New plans for a multistory hotel/retail building at the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire won over some key opponents Monday night, but the city’s Historic Resources Commission found the proposed building is still too tall to fit in with a historic east Lawrence neighborhood.

“We are not here to help craft a profitable structure,” said Historic Resources Commissioner Michael Arp. “We’re here to make sure what is built there meets the guidelines, and I still don’t believe it does.”

A development group led by Lawrence businessmen Doug Compton and Mike Treanor had hoped new plans that cut one story off of the building would satisfy the Historic Resources Commission. The project eliminated 21 apartments from the design to make for a smaller building that ranges from five stories near Ninth and New Hampshire to three stories along the edge closest to the neighborhood along Rhode Island Street.

“It is disappointing,” said Lawrence attorney Dan Watkins, who represents the development group. “It was a significant reduction in height, mass and uses.”

The project can be appealed to the Lawrence City Commission. If the City Commission finds there are no feasible and prudent alternatives to the project, it can allow the project to move forward despite the rejection from the HRC. Watkins said he would have to consult with his clients before he could comment on whether an appeal would be filed with the City Commission.

The project won two key endorsements before the vote. The city’s Historic Resources staff provided a report that said the new design warranted approval under the various guidelines the city uses for historic projects. The city staff had recommended denial of the previous plans. The leader of the Lawrence Preservation Alliance said his organization also could support the project as meeting the minimum guidelines needed for approval. The organization previously had urged the Historic Resources Commission to reject the plan.

A majority of Historic Resources commissioners, however, said the building was still too large in comparison to the adjacent Lawrence Arts Center. Some commissioners said they wanted to see another story eliminated.

The Historic Resources Commission on Monday took three votes on the project and approved the project on two of three matters. The project was found to be in compliance with the city’s Downtown Design Guidelines and to be compatible with the adjacent Social Service League Building, which is on the local register of historic places. But the project was found to not be compatible with the adjacent North Rhode Island Street Historic District, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.


Frank A Janzen 5 years, 9 months ago

These development guys are trying to wear us down. As Town Peterson said, Ap. 24: To the editor:

At Thursday’s Historical Resources Commission meeting, the news broke that the Treanor/Compton group is withdrawing yet another of its proposals for the 900 N.H. lot. The proposal had been denied by the HRC; an appeal was to be considered by the City Commission tonight. The 900 N.H. proposal is controversial because of its enormous size at the border between downtown and East Lawrence.

Treanor/Compton appear willing to adjust the proposal detail by detail, until it is approved. The tactic is to wear opponents down — the time invested in this debate has been enormous, including paid lawyers. The wealthy developers can exhaust the limited resources of the community to pay for continuing the debate, as well as the energy to appear at meeting after meeting to see the “next” proposal.

This is a moment of truth for the city government. Treanor/Compton have wasted thousands of person-hours for city government in considering and reconsidering their proposals. I urge the commission to insist: (1) any proposal for development of this site should involve East Lawrence residents from the outset in its design; (2) building size should not exceed that of the Lawrence Arts Center; and (3) districtwide planning is critical. That is, City Commission should insist on a district study — covering the New Hampshire Street corridor from 11th Street to the river — before considering yet another slightly modified proposal. In other words, City Commission should avoid opportunity-driven, suboptimal, incremental planning and instead insist on intelligent, analyzed and strategic development for our city.

JayhawksandHerd 5 years, 9 months ago

"All ugly vacant lots must stand empty until the city comes up with new planning approval procedures."

So, the only alternative is to build boring, generic, modern structures?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

What makes that lot particularly ugly is the construction activity that's been there for more than a year.

And before that lot was "empty," it contained houses that were part of the E. Lawrence neighborhood.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 9 months ago

What it had were houses that were falling apart and a liquor store.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

Yea, there was a gas station turned liquor store, and some of the houses were suffering from demolition by neglect.

But the houses were still houses, and some of them could have been salvaged.

The point is that in living memory, this was a residential neighborhood, just like the houses that remain directly across the alley. It'll never return to that, but it can be a transitional development that respects the rights of property owners on both sides of the alley.

Two stories on the alley, and four on NH is the closest we'll come to respecting the rights of both. We'll see who's buttering the city commissioners' bread when the ruling finally happens.

littlexav 5 years, 9 months ago

Get off it, that's not what he was saying. The point is that Compton and his cronies take these little bites out of the apple month after month until we're being offered an orange instead of an apple. We should be considering district-wide development, not letting ourselves get won over by our own ennui.

Budgets_Smudgets 5 years, 9 months ago

Coconut shells, coconut shells, coconut shells

I am shocked that the HRC could even be required to have yet another to review of something that the public has not seen

When, if ever, is a developer's request a real request to the city? This behind-the-scenes negotiation process is dirty, dirty, dirty. If not illegal. The HRC members seem to be following the law, but the city staff and commissioners seem to be violating it with some considerable abandon.

Private "serial meetings" by members of a public body are illegal. The City Staff understands this well, and advises all city boards to do that, but then they ignore it themselves.

I heard members of the city commission and staff openly admit the same last Tuesday that these meetings are actively occurring on this project. I think Mr. Corliss's schedule book could easily prove this. Admitting a violation of the law at a public meeting does not immunize city staff or commissioners of such violation.

Why is this not being investigated by the Douglas County prosecutor and/or the Kansas Attorney General?

Budgets_Smudgets 5 years, 9 months ago

Newsflash to LarryNative: These decisions are most definitely required to be made in public under Kansas law. K.S.A. 75-4317, et seq.

jafs 5 years, 9 months ago

I know a number of people who live on the west side, in a fancy neighborhood, who've had lengthy problems with the siding that was installed on their homes.

Apparently it was defective, and they're having a heck of a time getting it replaced.

So much for the high quality of the construction out there.

JackMcKee 5 years, 9 months ago

On the East side they'd just let it rot.

asixbury 5 years, 9 months ago

+1 very true JackMcKee. That street they're calling historic looks very run-down. Especially in the area where the proposed hotel is to be built. Lawrence hasn't been around long enough to call much of anything in it historic. Also, people on the Westside would fix their houses when they start to deteriorate. East side is mostly apartments for college kids.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

Not true at all-- the great majority of the houses on that block are either well-maintained or in the process of being brought back to good condition. The people who live in these houses like where they live, and have no interest in having a towering behemoth detract from the quality of life they have made a considerable investment in creating.

asixbury 5 years, 9 months ago

The houses directly behind the proposed site need lots of repairs, because on the outside, they still look crappy. Most of the houses are apartments, anyway. There are nice houses on that block, but those houses aren't affected by the hotel site since they are not in its direct path.

bad_dog 5 years, 9 months ago

Your comment should more accurately refer to the quality of the materials used, not merely the construction. Also, the siding failure is often attributable to the homeowner's failure to properly caulk & paint the siding when needed.

My west side home is just fine. Neither the roof or basement leak, the floors & stairs don't creak when walked upon and the doors stay put where left and close properly.

Oh, BTW, the siding is in excellent condition at more than 10 years of age.

jafs 5 years, 9 months ago

I'm referring to new siding which had defects when installed - no failure on the homeowner's part existed.

New construction is often more about things like granite counter-tops than good basic construction and solid materials.

Wow - the siding has lasted 10 years!! They used to build houses in such a way that they lasted for hundreds of years.

I live in an older home (by some standards) - built in the 50-60's sometime - the roof doesn't leak, and everything is fine here as well.

Our handyman explained something interesting to me - at some point in the past, a "2 x 4" was actually 2" x 4" - then they started shaving bits off of the outside of that, so that now a 2 x 4 is actually a bit smaller than that - 1 1/2 x 3 1/2, I believe.

That means that older houses built with larger lumber are probably better in some ways structurally than newer ones - I'm pretty sure there are other analogous differences.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

The decrease in the size of dimensional lumber doesn't really detract significantly from the structural integrity of the building. The "downsizing" that took place many decades ago certainly increases the yield of lumber from available trees, but the main reason for doing this was to standardize the dimensions of lumber, which greatly facilitates the design and construction process.

jafs 5 years, 9 months ago

It could be standardized so that a 2 x 4 was actually 2" x 4", so that wouldn't explain the downsizing.

And, I'm not completely convinced that this doesn't make a bit of difference, especially with larger sizes - ie. 4 x 10, etc.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

The engineering requirements for supporting various loads under various conditions has been well worked out, and it's integrated into building codes. If a nominal 2x4 isn't adequate for a given application, two of them can be ganged together to make a "4x4", and the same is true for any other size of lumber.

And for really heavy loads, it's now common practice to use engineered beams that are as strong or stronger than old-growth timbers, which are very difficult and expensive to obtain these days.

That's not to say that lots of builders don't do the bare minimum when throwing up ticky-tack houses. But quality construction can still be done with modern materials.

bad_dog 5 years, 9 months ago

I'll grant you a lot of the siding problems were present when installed, but again, that has to do with the materials used-not the construction itself. Nevertheless, a lot of the siding problems were either caused by or contributed to by poor or non-existent maintenance. The defective drywall obtained from China is the same situation. It's a defective product albeit absent the maintenance aspect, not shoddy construction methods.

"Wow - the siding has lasted 10 years!! They used to build houses in such a way that they lasted for hundreds of years."

Yes and they used stone and mortar or mud to chink, had thatched roofs, etc. No matter the materials used, just because the structures lasted for centuries doesn't mean they were maintenance free and are comprised of all original materials.

FWIW, my home is built with 2 x 6 framing and uses the structural beams bozo referenced for the floor joists and rafters, so I'm not as concerned about the dimensional lumber issue and stability. 2 x 6 construction does however, afford greater insulation capacity in the exterior walls and sound deadening within the home. I will say this though, if you've ever tried to drive a nail into a dimensional 2 x 4 taken from a home built many decades ago, you can appreciate the quality of the lumber and the effect time has had on the wood. It's about as bad a trying to hammer a fence staple into a hedgewood post.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

I don't recall for sure, but I don't believe that HRC approved the Oread, either. The city commission overruled them.

Town Peterson 5 years, 9 months ago

Whoever LarryNative is, he has not been to Rhode Island Street recently. Check it out. Our owner-occupancy rate is increasing every year, and many of the houses are much improved. Get some facts before you call us a shantytown, please. ATP

collective82 5 years, 9 months ago

I live on rhode island street and if you go towards downtown after 14th street most those houses are in dire need of repair or razing.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

This is wholly untrue. The great majority of houses on RI St. are either in good repair, or undergoing renovation.

asixbury 5 years, 9 months ago

Undergoing renovation now another word for dilapidated and falling apart?

JackMcKee 5 years, 9 months ago

Here's what you need, Dougie. Release a report showing that the historic district must have a 10 story building to keep its level of certification. Stick a flyer in everyone's utility bill. Of course it's a lie but it worked for the parking garage, 'er library. The Chamber will give you an award for your leadership.

JackMcKee 5 years, 9 months ago

oh and sweeten the deal by promising a full service natural foods grocery store, book store, day care and assorted other retail. Give it a couple of years and convert them all into Mexican restaurants and bars. The bigger the lies the more they'll love you! They might even help pay for it!

flyin_squirrel 5 years, 9 months ago

HRC in Lawrence is a joke. Go out East and you will see historic buildings. Any East Coast person would laugh at Lawrence calling early 1900 houses that need updating historic.

JackMcKee 5 years, 9 months ago

you mean the houses that haven't seen a dollar of maintenance in 25 years? Yep, the owners of those home have a true passion for history.

Melissa Isaacs 5 years, 9 months ago

Have you been to the east side anytime in the last decade? There are many beautifully maintained homes along Rhode Island street, and particularly along the block behind the vacant lot in question. Oh, and who cares what people on the east coast think? People all over the world would laugh at the notion of there being any historic structures in the United States, where our oldest buildings are practically brand new compared to the ancient buildings that abound in the old world.

Gary Rexroad 5 years, 9 months ago

Speaking as a resident and a taxpayer in Lawrence I feel the latest proposal from Compton/Treanor is a plan the Commissioners should eagerly approve. Our City Commissioners, staffers and the HRC have done a brilliant job listening to and working with all interested parties in an attempt to do the impossible, find a 900 New Hampshire plan perfect for all. While the process is important, the goal should be progress and the current plan provides.

The facts say our commissioners should approve. The plan meets city requirements and codes, has made considerable accommodations to assure the historical nature of the neighborhood is protected and as important, when complete will be a great asset to Lawrence bringing more jobs and people and new money to our community and our Downtown merchants.

I for one support this project because it is good for Lawrence as a whole, creates jobs and helps build business making Lawrence a stronger community.

JackMcKee 5 years, 9 months ago

here come the shills. why does this whole process make me feel like taking a shower.

By the way, I'm in support of this proposal, as long as there is no TIF.

flyin_squirrel 5 years, 9 months ago

Another person who doesn't understand how a TIF works.

JackMcKee 5 years, 9 months ago

I understand it. Like when the date is set for it to expire and yet Dougie still comes running in with his hand out.

scaramouchepart2 5 years, 9 months ago

What jobs? Temporary construction jos where most of the actual workers live out of town. Where most of the wait staff and hotel employees live out of town or are students. Our dollars are going out of town with these great jobs. We complain about our dollars going to the Legends and Topeka, but our city mostly support jobs that do not pay enough for people to actually live and spend here. But we give tax breaks to send even more money out of town. Lawrence needs to seriously wake up if our whole economy rests on construction jobs and student part time jobs. The bioscience industry is nice, but does not support the needs of the people wanting to live in Lawrence and work here. Until we do those jobs these developers claim to bring to town are a sham to get the city Comission to ignore the truth and give away tax dollars to go out of town. Marriott is not local.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 9 months ago

Typical LJW board snarky response: If you aren't in charge of a fleet of employees, then you can't complain about the job market. How bass-ackwards can you get? While I question the validity behind scara's assertion that all of these people come from out of town, it wouldn't be hard to show a local pattern of hiring folks at rock bottom prices just to staff some registers. Take ten minutes and go to a few stores downtown; you'll see it in spades.

Carol Bowen 5 years, 9 months ago

A new very large building with no setback would adversely affect the neighborhood. Neglect would creep deep into the housing stock No neighborhood can withstand the impact. And, I challenge posters to not discredit someone else's neighborhood and home. How arrogant.

If Mr. Compton had followed the development code, he would not have to take his project to the city commission. He is requesting variances from the code, and expecting the city to comply with his requests. If he followed the code, we wouldn't be reading about his plans. CVS, the old KMart property, and others were developed and there was no big deal. They followed the code. Hmmm, they were probably all developers from outside the city. They wouldn't know about our routine requests for variance.

Eric Neuteboom 5 years, 9 months ago

I've always thought that lot would be perfect for an outdoor amphitheater as an extension of the arts center.

JayhawksandHerd 5 years, 9 months ago

Boy, you told him! How dare Coach_Eric express his opinion!

LawrenceBoy 5 years, 9 months ago

Does the HRC understand that successful commercial enterprise makes preservation possible?

Carol Bowen 5 years, 9 months ago

There is no guarantee that the enterprise will be successful. The city should stay out of their business.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 9 months ago

Ah, in the same style as the Arts Center building that it will be neighboring.

overthemoon 5 years, 9 months ago

That's silly. Do you know that people hated the Carnegie library when it was built? Building 'old timey' is silly and trite and indicates a lack of confidence in our own times.

overthemoon 5 years, 9 months ago

sure would be a nice place for the Library.

pizzapete 5 years, 9 months ago

This project is exactly what this city needs, more cheap apartments. Who cares if the structure doesn't fit the area? Think of all the great things apartments bring. Less traffic, less crime, less congestion, more high paying jobs, etc. It's a well known fact that people who live in highrise apartments work harder, shop local, and are better citizens overall than people who choose to live in houses.

We should put up signs on the highway that read: Vistit Historic Lawrence, we have tons of cheap apartments for everyone. Don't think about it, just build it.

kef104 5 years, 9 months ago

The HRC was adamantly against Robert Krause and his fine dining establishment only a few years back. The same Robert Krause is now being credited for his renovation work and for inspiring the entire Delaware Street transformation. HRC has a place, but it should only be as a limited source of information. I think it would be more important for the HRC to review current buildings/homes and find ways to assist owners in taking long term care of the properties.

pizzapete 5 years, 9 months ago

Krause was running a business out of his house. That's completely different than renovating the houses on Delaware. If instead of renovating the area he was trying to build a highrise hotel/bar/apartment/office/grocery/deli/motel in a location where a hotel/bar/apartment/office/grocery/deli/motel does not fit, I would hope they'd oppose that, too.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

I don't believe the HRC ruled on Krause's operation in any way. The problem he had with the city was that he was operating a commercial operation out of a residentially zoned house, and failed to get proper permits and inspections for much of the renovation work that he did.

muddfoot55 5 years, 9 months ago

It looks just like Bert Nash...and that looks like a jail.....

irvan moore 5 years, 9 months ago

it's looks pretty simple, development that brings business to downtown is good, development that takes business to north lawrence is bad

2002 5 years, 9 months ago

I have never been much of a Doug Compton fan, but he has brought the City a good project and the Commission should overrule the historic commission on this one. The "anti" mentality in this town is pathetic. Downtown needs a shot in the arm like this.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

This isn't an "anti" thing. It's a "pro" thing. As in, "pro" the neighborhood we currently live in. Don't let an elephant crap on the living room carpet.

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years, 9 months ago

“We are not here to help craft a profitable structure..."

At least he's honest unlike many of the faux progressives that burden Lawrence.

jafs 5 years, 9 months ago

A commission charged with protecting historic areas shouldn't be trying to help developers make money - it's not their mission.

As it's not the mission of the EPA to help oil companies make record profits.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

Exactly. The city commission, on the other hand, can overrule the HRC, but only if they make a finding that these lots can't be developed in a way that respects the historical nature of the neighborhood. That finding may be a "sham" finding, but if it is, it opens the door for the neighbors to file suit against the city, which could delay the project indefinitely.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

This is nothing but assertion. But it does demonstrate one clear fact. You're ignorant of history, likely because you don't care about history. You're only here as a shill/troll for your bosses.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 9 months ago

The 9th and New Hampshire Summit is not filling up so fast and the cafe space is not coming together. Call it The Luxury Summit Overnight and bingo Lawrence has a new hotel. In fact I believe this could work. Stay for a year,a month,two weeks or simply Luxury Overnight.

This brings on some new tax revenue associated with hotels..... I love this concept.

Empty hotels are not worth much revenue wise on a daily basis.

I am anti economic displacement and pro economic growth. Flooded markets produce economic displacement = not friendly to existing business or taxpayers.

jafs 5 years, 9 months ago

Source for that claim?

My understanding of tif districts is that the property taxes that would otherwise have been paid to the city are rebated back to the developers (or a portion of them).

Nothing in there about the project having to be successful, as far as I know.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 9 months ago

Does the "new design" actually remove one level or is it a "pretend remove" meaning the appearance of removal yet still keeping the top level somehow?

Ward 5 years, 9 months ago

Nobody's commented on the horrendous design. It's an aggregate mashup of five or six incomplete buildings, each being small yet the whole is a monster. Worse than its cousin across the street.

The grass covered empty lot that's become a construction yard and parking doesn't seem to ever had any BMPs or stormwater management that's usually required by KDHE and the city.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.