Archive for Thursday, February 2, 2012

Developers revise plans for Ninth and New Hampshire hotel to respond to neighbors’ concerns

February 2, 2012


Plans for a multi-story hotel/apartment building on the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets have shrunk in hopes of attracting more support from neighbors.

An architect for the project confirmed Thursday new plans reduce the number of apartments in the proposed building by 13 units. That has allowed the height of the eastern edge of the building — the portion closest to the residential neighborhood — to drop from four stories to three.

“We’ve heard a lot of concern about the height of the building, and we’re trying to respond to that,” said Micah Kimball, an architect with Treanor Architects. “We’ve circled the wagons to see what we can do to reduce the height.”

Circled or not, it appears developers still have a fight on their hands with several neighbors who live in the historic neighborhood along Rhode Island Street.

“We appreciate they’re trying to make it relate to the neighborhood better,” said Leslie Soden, president of the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association. “But it is still an ocean liner of a building.”

Soden said reducing the eastern edge of the building to three-stories is an improvement, but she said neighbors remain concerned much of the rest of the building is five stories tall, or actually six stories near its Ninth and New Hampshire entrance. Soden said a design that makes the entire building three stories — closer to the height of the adjacent Lawrence Arts Center — would be more acceptable.

A representative of the development team — which is led by Lawrence businessmen Doug Compton and Mike Treanor — said there is no way the project could be financially feasible if the overall building height was reduced to three stories. The project as proposed includes an 80-room TownePlace by Marriott hotel and 21 apartments, along with retail and restaurant space.

Bill Fleming, an attorney for the development group, said the hotel chain has set 80 rooms as a minimum, and the developers can’t eliminate more apartments and still make the project work from a financial standpoint.

“This is absolutely the smallest we can go and still meet the project’s requirements,” Fleming said.

But Fleming said the new design includes several changes aimed to improve how the project works with downtown and the neighborhood. They include:

• Height changes. The building has two wings on its eastern edge that jut towards the neighborhood. Those both have dropped from four stories to three stories. The height of those wings now vary from 33 feet to 38 feet high, depending on the slope of the site. Kimball said the new heights are roughly equivalent to an existing 2.5 story home that is on the block.

• Plaza area. The eastern edge of the building includes a recessed area near the property’s alley. In previous plans, that area was to be used for a parking lot. The new plans call for the area to be an outdoor seating area for patrons of the hotel.

• Drive-thru removed. The original plans called for a vehicle drop-off lane between the new building and the existing Arts Center. The traffic lane would have put significant numbers of vehicles onto the alley between the building and the neighborhood. But the new plan eliminates the drop-off lane. The area between the Arts Center and the building would become an outdoor seating area. Plans now call for a new drop-off lane to be built alongside New Hampshire Street.

• A glass story. The portion of the building closest to the corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets is planned to be 74-feet tall, down from 78-feet in a previous plan. That portion of the building continues to be six stories, but the top story is now planned to be a special glass story designed to let more light pass through the building.

Previously, the design called for a glass story on the southern end of the building, near the Arts Center. That story was designed to house an indoor swimming pool. The new plan eliminates that glass story and replaces it with one on the north end of the building, closer to the Ninth and New Hampshire intersection. The new glass story is designed to house a 4,000 square feet restaurant. The indoor pool has been scrapped and replaced with an outdoor pool on one of the roofs.

The developers are tentatively scheduled to present the new plans to the city’s Historic Resources Commission at its Feb. 16 meeting. The HRC previously rejected an earlier set of plans, and instructed the developers to significantly reduce the height of the building. If the HRC rejects the new plans, developers can appeal the decision to the Lawrence City Commission, which likely would hear the appeal in March.

— City reporter Chad Lawhorn can be reached at 832-6362. Follow him at


RKLOG 6 years, 2 months ago

How about a one story building and in another town?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

If First Management pays the asking price, then it's not inflated.

Regardless, whatever First Management builds, if anything, they have an obligation to develop their property in a way the doesn't detract from the value of its neighbors' property, don't they? And not just its monetary value.

Jayhawkblue22 6 years, 2 months ago

I usually don't comment, even though I find myself perusing through the stories. I couldn't help but to get a screenname and see what I could add to this storyline..... What amazes me is how the majority of the people who bang their drums wanting "MORE DOWNTOWN BUSINESS" and less bars etc et al, but.......when we (Lawrencians) have a golden opportunity to bring in a nice decent hotel (downtown), more downtown living in apts and another nice restaurant, instead just of just another "bar." These same people will Biatch about it! "it's too tall" It's too this, it's too that...." seriously folks.....

Would you rather have it "Out West" where the people who come into town to shop downtown, choose to stay and play further away from downtown?? Then there will be that crowd "Why is downtown dwindling???" We need more this, we need more that.... As I drove through downtown this morning I took in the majority of EMPTY businesses and thought....downtown Topeka it's on its way.....

Deep breath folks.....then just hold it for can get used to having "NOTHING" downtown in a few years. It's not like we are letting a Trailer Park set up camp on 9th and New Hamp....

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

This is one lot of many that could be developed downtown. Many are much more suitable for a hotel/apt complex than this one if we truly need more than the two downtown hotels that we currently have. Painting a black-and-white picture of downtown development choices isn't useful in the decision-making process.

littlexav 6 years, 2 months ago

Two downtown hotels? Surely you're not counting the Oread. It's not really downtown... And I've never been able to figure out who stays there. Parents visiting on Mom's Day/Dad's Day for the fraternosororities? Ticketholders on gamedays? It's in such an awkward location...

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

I think that would be the Eldridge, and the Marriot Riverfront Suites.

Those are both dowtown, no?

jhardy 6 years, 2 months ago

The Hobbs lofts are full last time I checked. I have been wanting to sell my house lately and inquired about them and that is what I was told so I do not know where you are getting your info?? The Lofts have only been open for about a month and when I stopped by last week there were only a few left and over forty people have already moved in.

George_Braziller 6 years, 2 months ago

Only open for about a month? Where are you getting your info? The Hobbs Taylor Lofts building was constructed several years ago.

jhardy 6 years, 2 months ago

I am talking about the lofts in the 901 building.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

There is a lot of commercial space still vacant in the building.

I don't know where you get the idea that the lofts have only been open for about a month - the building was finished a long time ago, and people have been living there for a while now.

jhardy 6 years, 2 months ago

I should have been more clear, I was talking about the lofts at 901 New Hampshire

clarkentsman 6 years, 2 months ago

If one were to drive or ride a bike up and down the streets of East Lawrence you would find blocks that have at least one house that is in advanced disrepair. Maybe we should be as concerned about how our neighborhood looks as how the building looks.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

Those are two entirely different issues. Why are you trying to connect them?

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

If one is concerned about the neighborhood, and about the value of one's property there, one would naturally be concerned about both of them, I would think.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

How does opposition to this behemoth indicate a lack of concern for other problems in the neighborhood?

littlexav 6 years, 2 months ago

I think it's more like the glass-house and rock-throwing argument. Or actually, more like "you think this will hurt your property value? how about you paint your house first and then we'll talk. we'll talk about how you can fix that fence that's been leaning against your house for five years. then we'll talk about your gutters. and the tree branches on your roof. and the dirt where your yard is supposed to be. Okay, now how is my nice hotel hurting your property value?"

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

Houses are owned by individuals who will take care of their property, or not, as they see fit.

Blaming opponents of this building for the maintenance habits of other property owners in E. Lawrence is illogical.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

See my response below.

Neighborhood residents who care about their neighborhood would care about dilapidated houses in it as well as projects like these.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

It doesn't.

Your post, though, seems to.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

If the issue is concern for the neighborhood, then the two issues aren't "entirely different" issues.

They're two examples of the same thing.

When you try to separate them, and claim they're completely different, that implies that opposition to the project is concern for the neighborhood, but the other issue is something else entirely.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

"Kimball said the new heights are roughly equivalent to an existing 2.5 story home that is on the block."

The height is only one of its dimensions. None of the houses they are attempting to compare it to fills every square inch of the lot it's built on.

Lee Eldridge 6 years, 2 months ago

It's important to remember that there's a group of people that no matter WHAT happens with the design will still complain. Some people would like to return Lawrence to what it was 40 years ago. If a town doesn't grow, it dies. I grew up in one of those towns. Most of us don't want that for Lawrence.

I like the plan. Build it.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

"Grow or die" are not the only two options, especially in a college town like Lawrence.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

Lawrence now has a glut of housing because of the culture of unsustainable growth you cheerlead.

Alceste 6 years, 2 months ago

Neighborhoods change and that's all there is to it. East Lawrence isn't really a singular neighborhood anyway: It has pockets of pleasant and quaint along with pockets of pits and despair.

The "new" Downtown is lost to the middle class.....the "lofts"; the apartments; "the trend" has all been about catering to the wealthy and that's just the way it is in Lawrence, anymore. It's too late, Boz: There is no turning back in Alceste's view. The Lawrence of yesteryear is gone....and has been for a long time. No more Duckwalls; No more A&P; No more Town Crier; No more John's Novelty; No more Deluxe Cafe; No More Union Cafe; and on and on and on. Better to have a hotel in conjunction with rich people apartments than yet another bar or overpriced trinket store.

To heck with Soden, president of the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association and to heck with the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association. Downtown belongs to everybody and not just select "interest groups". I venture to add that the vast majority of Lawrence living people seldom go Downtown because of these "interest groups" (boutique shoppers; frilly diners; and lastly, gun and knife toting bar hoppers.) By adding a hotel which shall compete with the grossly overpriced and under customer oriented Eldgridge perhaps an entirely new quality of people will be in the Downtown area.

Old Alceste would very much enjoy residing in an apartment in the Downtown but accepted long ago ain't nobody going to cater to Alceste's income or rather lack thereof. Try all you like, but you'll never be able to stop the gentrification of Lawrence. It's too's already here and there's no turning back. Live with it. shrug

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

"Live with it."

You're speaking for yourself. East Lawrence doesn't need you speaking for them.

thinkagain 6 years, 2 months ago

I think the glass walls are a great idea. I think the developers are doing a good job RESPONDING to the neighborhood concerns. When the developers remember to initiate with the neighborhoods BEFORE any plans are presented to the City, that will be a real indicator of cooperation. It will be great to have another hotel downtown.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 2 months ago

If a project is being built against guidelines from the HRC and ARC perhaps it shouldn't be built. Life will go on.

BTW tax dollars will also be requested for this project.......... in essence that makes all taxpayers legitimate stakeholders. We stakeholders spend thousands of dollars annually in this community. Without which government,business and corporate America would be nothing.

Tenants are still lacking for the new 901 building,Hobbs-Taylor,Borders building, American Eagle storefront, the secret sales tax Baur Farms junk food plaza,Sears building,Home Depot complex, a number of large apartment complexes and quite a few foreclosed homes( this number will grow for another two years).

Try K-10 across the street from Tractor Supply. There one could build a large swimming pool surrounded by large Pin Oak Trees,birch trees and a few bogus palm trees mixed with Kansas ornamental grasses,large rocks and black eyed Susans. Open the pool to the public till 5PM.

As for 9th and New Hampshire. Go for a Art and Design School with the entire 1st floor dedicated to an outdoor art gallery. Art is where the money is.

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