Archive for Friday, August 24, 2012

Ninth, N.H. project won’t be opposed

This view of the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire, foreground center, looks to the northwest from the second floor of the Lawrence Arts Center. At right is the alley between New Hampshire Street at left and Rhode Island Street, not visible, to right. The City Commission was presented an appeal Tuesday night, related to a controversial multistory hotel/retail building at the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets. The city’s Historic Resources Commission had rejected the project, ruling that it would negatively affect the historic neighborhood immediately east of the site.

This view of the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire, foreground center, looks to the northwest from the second floor of the Lawrence Arts Center. At right is the alley between New Hampshire Street at left and Rhode Island Street, not visible, to right. The City Commission was presented an appeal Tuesday night, related to a controversial multistory hotel/retail building at the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets. The city’s Historic Resources Commission had rejected the project, ruling that it would negatively affect the historic neighborhood immediately east of the site.

August 24, 2012


A multi-story hotel and retail building proposed for the center of Downtown Lawrence won’t have to fight a battle in court after all.

The attorney for a group of neighbors opposed to the plans for the hotel/retail building on the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets said his clients won’t file a lawsuit appealing a previous decision by the Lawrence City Commission to approve the building.

Lawrence attorney Ron Schneider, though, said his clients still don’t like the plans for the project, which they have argued will encroach upon a historic neighborhood that is just east of the Ninth and New Hampshire intersection.

“But the reality is the project is going forward as approved,” Schneider said. “We could spend a lot of time and money appealing, but we do not know if we would be successful.”

A lawsuit was considered possible because the City Commission approved the plans for the approximately 80-room Marriott extended-stay hotel even though the city’s Historic Resources Commission had rejected the plans.

Schneider said his clients decided against an appeal after entering discussions with the development group, which is led by Lawrence businessmen Doug Compton and Mike Treanor.

Schneider said Compton and his development group have agreed to a deal that will monitor the properties of Schneider’s clients for any damage before, during or immediately after construction of the hotel. The deal spells out how any damages would be handled. The deal, however, does not make any modifications to the design of the hotel/retail building.

“The resolution we have come to with Doug Compton and his companies protect my clients’ interests, and Doug Compton and his companies have been very accommodating,” Schneider said.

Dan Watkins, a Lawrence attorney representing the development group, said he believes the project could begin construction this fall.


Brad Watson 3 years ago

Flannery was right..growth must be made laterally.....amd what can i say...Joe is a favorite...and shop WEAVERS...and SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES!!!!! ...and that growth will help all businesses lets get behind this ..its stupid not to ...DUH!!!!!!!!!

Richard Heckler 3 years ago

It could have been built without the $12 million tax dollar subsidy. This way the owners have guaranteed themselves a profit. In fact the $400,000 from the county is a profit before breaking ground. After observing how the developers convinced government to fork over $12 million tax dollars I'm sure this group is brilliant enough to make plenty of money without taxpayers investing one thin dime. Yes off this same game plan.

Yes infill is good but do taxpayers need to get duped each time a developer wants to do "infill"? Why should we? Do taxpayers want to get duped one more time on the upcoming project at the northwest corner of 9th and Mass?

Not to mention altering the quality of life for the neighbors most immediate to the project.

Richard Heckler 3 years ago

Maybe it's time to alter how final decisions are made at city hall? How about a Local Taxpayers Bill of Rights.

Perhaps it's time to create an active group of taxpayers to design an ordinance that places more final decisions in the hands of the voters. Yes a Local Taxpayers Bill of Rights for we the people who pay the bills.

For any group of politicians to believe that voters blindly trust politicians with their tax dollars is not real and hasn't been for at least 50 years. It would not matter who the commissioners are and would certainly be no different if I were a city commissioner or if anyone else were a city commissioner.

Let’s place the voting taxpayers aka the largest group of stakeholders in Lawrence,Kansas in the position of deciding how they would like to have tax dollars spent. A Local Taxpayers Bill of Rights would be appropriate.

Taxpayers want more opportunity to approve tax incentives and projects such as the the monster field house tax dollar boon doggle.

Taxpayers want more opportunity to approve projects that involve tax dollars across the board. After all we taxpayers are the source for corporate welfare. Why shouldn't we have the opportunity to decide how reckless or how fiscally responsible our tax dollars should be expended?

Put this question on the upcoming ballot. Let's vote in a Local Taxpayers Bill of Rights.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 3 years ago

If the money was allocated for bicycle paths or tofu stands, you would be asking for more, Merrill. How come when it comes to something other than what you like you get all anal retentive?

optimist 3 years ago

Then run for office and get you seat on the city commission. If you truly believe you represent the majority of Lawrencians then you should have no problem winning. Given your propensity to mischaracterize the facts you would make the perfect politician.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 3 years ago

You see, I do care as I am one of the 50% that actually pays income taxes. I'll wave at you, as I drive by, standing at the bus stop waiting for a ride to the welfare office.

WilburM 3 years ago

Why don't candidates campaign as fiscal conservatives in the use of city and taxpayer funds? this should prove highly popular, and would not require any changes to the city code. There is always a balance here, re public funding, and I'd trust some fiscally conservative commissioners more than a population that would likely turn down almost everything (eg, Oregon school districts need to pass their budgets annually by popular vote. It's a disaster.

Flap Doodle 3 years ago

The whining and moaning will last for decades....

Getaroom 3 years ago

Only yours, whining about Merrill, on and on and on.............

Melanie Birge 3 years ago

How many New local job's will it bring with it?

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

Every single carpenter, that helps in the building construction. Every single plumber. Every single electrician. All those hanging sheetrock. Every single laborer. Those involved in the planning, like architects. Every single person involved in the construction of this new building. Even city planners and inspectors will be kept busy overseeing the project (if the project didn't exist, their jobs might not be needed and they could be furloughed). Those are absolute guarantees. After that, there is the assumption that the hotel will employ people. How many? Well, that depends on several things, like how busy it is. Like many businesses in Lawrence, they might employ more when the students are here and less during summer break. They may take some business away from existing hotels but it's unlikely those hotels will quit business on day one, simply because a new hotel opens. Either way, all hotels needs front desk workers whether business is good or bad. They all need those people who set up those cute little free continental breakfasts. They all need people to clean rooms.

If your question is intended to imply that this hotel will simply cannibalize jobs from other existing hotels, then the answer is unknown. There might be some, but it's unlikely that it will steal all those jobs. So there will be new jobs in the hotel.

BigAl 3 years ago

And don't forget the wholesalers that will supply the materials for this project. The plumbers, electricians, sheet-rockers, etc all will need supplies to build this. This will have a very positive affect on the Lawrence economy.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

And if not for this project, nothing would ever be developed on these lots or any others downtown or anywhere else in Lawrence, and all the trades people would be forever unemployed and their kids would all have to go into foster care.

It's a miracle, I tell you.

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

Those in the trades have been particularly hard hit by this recession. With the housing bubble, new housing starts as well as remodels have been very hard hit.

No, they won't be unemployed forever, but they've been unemployed (underemployed) long enough. And no, their kids won't all go into foster care. But as with every household that experiences financial setbacks, there will be, there has been, very real consequences. You can poo poo them away, Bozo, with your foolish hyperbole. But they are real people. Their underemployment has been very real and ongoing for several years now. They don't want the handouts you want to give them, taken from others, not you. They want jobs.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

Your concern for tradespeople reminds me of the National Lampoon magazine cover with a picture of a dog with a gun to its head, and the caption, "Buy this magazine, or the dog gets it!!"

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

So you're saying that all those carpenters and plumbers and electricians, etc. should just commit suicide? Got it.

Sharon Nottingham 3 years ago

When it comes to multi million dollar incentives from taxpayers, then it should be on a ballot.

LeBo 3 years ago

TIF/tax abatement is an ineffective economic tool is this economy. How about a homeowners tax abatement?

Richard Heckler 3 years ago

About local development 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 politically connected.

friendlyjhawk 3 years ago

HAHAHA Of course it won't be opposed!

blindrabbit 3 years ago

merrell: Methinks you intended NorthEast corner of 9th and New Hampshire not NorthWest corner of 9th and Mass. on your earlier post.

timebomb66 3 years ago

Ill wager that they will plant some really pretty trees and have a bicycle rack made of locally produced organic mild steel.

pizzapete 3 years ago

This piece of property is one of the most valuable vacant commercial properties in our city. It's outrageous to think that it was going to sit vacant for another 20 or 30 years without a tax abatement. We the taxpayers of Lawrence have already propped up the value of this property by financing the neighboring parking garage and arts center. This property was bought to be developed and would have been developed with or without the tax give away. The tax abatement isn't just the the icing and cherry on the cake, but the waitress forgetting to put the cake and all the drinks on the bill.

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

Your comment makes a lot of sense. It seems quite reasonable in a common sense sort of way. But in this instance, I think you might be wrong. Why? Because I look around town and what do I see? I see some prime commercial properties vacant, year after year. There are many on 23rd. St. I see them right on Mass. Vacant on Iowa St. The deal is that I have no problem at all envisioning that lot being vacant in a decade or two. I have no problem seeing it littered with empty beer cans as the homeless use that location to hang out while waiting for the bus to shuttle them between the Salvation Army and the new shelter. I have no problem envisioning neighbors complaining that these same homeless are using the back side of that lot as a urinal. I have no problem seeing graffiti on the Arts Center or the parking garage. Basically, I have no reason to believe that Lawrence is immune to the social ills that every other community in America has.

pizzapete 3 years ago

We aren't talking about 20 years ago, we're talking about right now and 20 years from now. The parking garage and arts center have made this a hot property ready for immediate development. That's why we tax payers approved and paid for the garage and art center, to further commercial development on New Hampshire Street. That's the difference between the lot now and the potential for development it lacked 20 years ago.

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

How do you explain all the vacancies on 23rd. and Iowa Streets. Even the Masonic Temple, sure, it has recently been rented. But only after many years being vacant and even now it's to a church, not a commercial interest.

If things were booming, one would expect those opportunities to be snapped up in a New York minute. And we might expect that empty lot to be snatched up or developed as well. But that's not what is happening. What is happening is that in a very depressed time, someone is willing to invest millions of new dollars into the local economy. Yes, he's asking for substantial abatements, but that in and of itself should not disqualify him. If the project makes financial sense for the community, and I think it does, then do it.

pizzapete 3 years ago

Well, 23rd and Iowa is a completely different situation all together, but honestly, I haven't noticed many vacancies or undeveloped areas there. What about the recent additions of CVS pharmacy, the health food store at the former Burger King, Freddy's Burgers, expansion of Panera Bread, Gran Daddy's BBQ, and others? There are plenty of businesses still making investments in our community during these difficult economic times. I'm not against the building of this hotel, I think it will add to the economy downtown, I'm just skeptical of the huge tax incentives being offered to make it happen. Twenty years is a long time. I would be happier if the city had been more fiscally responsible and negotiated a five or ten year tax abatement instead.

jhawkinsf 3 years ago

The old Blockbuster building, the old Pizza Hut, that convenience store next to Jimmy John's, the old Plum Garden (I think that's what it was called). There's a small strip mall for sale, though currently occupied, near 23rd. & Naismith. Downtown always has vacancies. The old Joe's Donuts. Heck, the list could go on.

The deal is this, if I could peer into a crystal ball and knew for certain that this building would go forward with zero incentives, that would be great. But in the absence of that crystal ball, and thinking that's there's a better chance of beer cans littering that lot for years to come, coupled with the jobs that will be provided, I'm in favor.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

Fortunately for the hotel clientele, it would appear that Marriott will managing that portion of the business, and not FM.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

What mood drives your need to resort to such conjecture?

Really, the thumbs up is meaningless-- just like most everything else on a forum like this. "Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing," including my posts and thumb clicking. Yours, too, my fellow bozo.

Phoghorn 3 years ago

I'll give that one a thumbs up!

jafs 3 years ago

Did anybody else notice the odd nature of the "deal" struck with Compton?

Any damage that is done to neighbors' property is of course his responsibility - I wonder why the neighbors were so willing to drop their opposition because he said he'd take care of it.

I suppose perhaps they prefer not to have to take him to court and engage in a lengthy process to get him to do what he's supposed to do.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

I'm sure that the neighbors' lawyer informed them that litigation would be very costly, with no guarantee that they would prevail.

With that in mind, they chose to seek to mitigate the damage to their properties caused by this project. Given that Compton, et al, have essentially unlimited funds for attorneys, waving the white flag was about their only option.

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