Archive for Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Concerns mount over future of Varsity House

Construction on a 50-plus unit apartment complex continues in the 1000 block of Indiana Street. Also planned for the site, closer to the corner of 11th and Indiana, off camera at left, will be the former Varsity House, which was dismantled to make way for the apartment complex. Once reassembled, the structure will serve as a boarding house next to the new apartment development.

Construction on a 50-plus unit apartment complex continues in the 1000 block of Indiana Street. Also planned for the site, closer to the corner of 11th and Indiana, off camera at left, will be the former Varsity House, which was dismantled to make way for the apartment complex. Once reassembled, the structure will serve as a boarding house next to the new apartment development.

August 22, 2012

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The old Varsity House hasn’t been benched for good.

As a four-story apartment building continues to be built at 1043 Ind. in the Oread neighborhood, the architect for the project knows questions are growing with some about whether the old Varsity House that once sat on the property will ever return to the site.

“I know right now there doesn’t look like there will be the space, but there will be,” said Lawrence architect Paul Werner. “The Varsity House is coming back.”

The future of the Varsity House, an early 1900s home that once served as a boarding house for members of the varsity football team at KU, was a hot topic when the city was considering plans for the new 53-unit apartment building.

The house, while under the ownership of Kansas University, deteriorated. Developers of the apartment complex originally had proposed demolishing the structure.

But a deal was struck between the developers, City Hall and the Lawrence Preservation Alliance that the home would be moved to a corner of the property, which would still allow the apartment project to move forward.

Preservationists, though, were surprised when developer Thomas Fritzel in December disassembled the house and had it moved off site.

He said at the time that the house would be brought back to the site and reassembled once construction work on the apartment project had progressed.

Preservationists, though, have been skeptical about what will actually return to the site, said Dennis Brown, president of the Lawrence Preservation Alliance.

“The dismantling makes me think that likely it will be more of a replica of the Varsity House that will go up,” Brown said. “What is really left of the Varsity House? Some framing?”

Most of the details related to the move and the storage of the house have been under the supervision of Fritzel. An attempt to reach Fritzel for comment was unsuccessful.

But Werner said the pieces of the house have been securely stored inside a metal building in Douglas County.

Werner said plans call for as much of the original house to be reused as possible, but he said it will require a new roof, siding, windows and other materials that had deteriorated too badly to be saved.

As for where the house will go, the project will follow through on the agreement to place the house at the far southeast corner of the site. The house will sit very near the corner of 11th and Indiana streets, Werner said.

That portion of the site currently is a concrete pad being used as a construction staging area.

The Varsity House will sit upon the concrete because the house actually will be atop the roof of an underground parking garage. The entire site for the apartment building has a 114-space below-ground garage beneath it.

“Now that I’ve seen the construction process on that site, I understand why Thomas chose to dismantle and move the house,” Werner said. “We would have had to move it at least twice to build the garage.”

Once reassembled, the Varsity House will serve as a six-bedroom boarding house.

Werner said he doesn’t have a timeline for when the Varsity House will return to the site, but he said the entire project is scheduled to be done by early December.

The apartments currently are being leased for the next KU semester.

“My understanding is the pre-leasing is going great,” Werner said. “We think it is going to be a really cool project.”

Comments

frankfussman 2 years, 9 months ago

Setting the house on a concrete pad?? Where's the lawn?? This sounds like a museum piece.

joes_donuts 2 years, 9 months ago

Maybe he will put in artificial turf on the concrete. That will look pretty year round (just like the Oread Hotel)!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

"“The dismantling makes me think that likely it will be more of a replica of the Varsity House that will go up,” Brown said. “What is really left of the Varsity House? Some framing?”"

"Werner said plans call for as much of the original house to be reused as possible, but he said it will require a new roof, siding, windows and other materials that had deteriorated too badly to be saved."

There's the tipoff-- this will be more along the lines of "preservation" that can be seen at the former Borders building.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

I'm sure glad you never paint with broad brush about people you mostly don't know.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 9 months ago

The developers in this town are a very select group, whose activities and agenda are easily identifiable, who use their considerable influence without much restraint. Such is not the case with preservationists, no matter how badly you want to equate the two.

flyin_squirrel 2 years, 9 months ago

The fact this house was deemed "Historic" is a joke, Thomas's dismantling of the house is a joke (especially on the preservationist), the rebuild of this house will be a joke, and the final product is going to be the butt of all jokes for the HRC and City Commission!

Get rid of the HRC and save some money, the State already has a historic process our city can use.

When people see what the final product looks like, it will make for a must see attraction during football games (and not because it is beautiful).

joes_donuts 2 years, 9 months ago

Completely agree, and the Varsity house will be nothing more than a partial replica representing nothing historical. Do you really think all the pieces that were dismantled and placed in blue construction dumpsters went to a covered warehouse? If so, I will sell you the Oread Hotel.

Lawrence HRC is joke.

he_who_knows_all 2 years, 9 months ago

"An attempt to reach Fritzel for comment was unsuccessful." Shocking!

Has he ever been available for comment on any of his projects or does he always use Paul to speak for him?

Michael Bennett 2 years, 9 months ago

Yeah it's too bad the original rotting, delapidated siding and roofing won't remain, it had soo much historical value... And as for moving the structure in one piece: Do you realize what that would have entailed? Removing power lines, sections of those massive trees along the street, stop lights all along the route out of town, etc., let's think about the logistics of this, and who else they would have pissed off given the alternative options.

joes_donuts 2 years, 9 months ago

Oh and don't forget, Thomas is the same developer we are suppose to trust with the Youth Sports Mecca we are going to build outside of town. Lookout for the bait n switches out there, just like the Varsity House and the Oread Hotel (adding bars and cell towers in a sneaky fashion).

joes_donuts 2 years, 9 months ago

Oh, and I forgot, this is also the same developer who put in fake Grass even after the city told him it was against code.

Keith 2 years, 9 months ago

My prediction is that the Varsity House will be just big enough to cover the bank of maiboxes in front of the new apartments.

irvan moore 2 years, 9 months ago

the varsity house has no future, only a past

rockchalker52 2 years, 9 months ago

Don't much care about the Varsity House, but I sure do miss the Varsity Theater.

blindrabbit 2 years, 9 months ago

And you all trust Fritzel on this project enough to enter into an agreement with him (him/them) andThe City to build the Sports Complex out west. " Dream on, dream on , dream until your dreams come true".

danriedemann 2 years, 9 months ago

This is yet another black-eye on the already battered face of the Lawrence Preservation Alliance. Their executive board doesnt have the sense to have seen this coming. They are a bunch of spineless jellyfish, with no concept of how to preserve anything. We have lost more Historic housing stock with this bunch at the helm than ever before. Because of them we have a Dryvit covered "Historic" downtown, and are loosing all of our Historic "interior Estates" and downtown greenspace to their partnership with Tennants to Homeowners. We need real change where Historic Preservation is concerned in Lawrence.

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