Archive for Friday, February 10, 2012

Lawrence City Commision to review plan to turn Gaslight mobile park into student housing complex

February 10, 2012


A plan to convert a South Lawrence trailer park into a development that will have nearly 1,000 bedrooms for local college students is set for a key vote at Lawrence City Hall.

City commissioners on Tuesday will consider approving a variety of rezoning and permit applications for Aspen Heights, a proposed development that will convert the Gaslight Mobile home village into a unique complex of about 300 student apartments.

But the project, proposed by an Austin, Texas-based development firm, won’t feature traditional, large apartment buildings. Instead, developers are proposing 304 house-like structures — each with two to four bedrooms — over a 40-acre site.

“We know that students like to feel like they are at home,” said Charlie Vatterott, executive vice-president of development for Aspen Heights.

But the development will cause residents of the Gaslight Village to find new homes.

“The developers have said that people could stay until the end of the school year,” said Tom Horner III, an executive with Edwardsville-based Mid-America Manufactured Housing Communities, the trailer park’s ownership group. “I think it will be after June 1 because you can’t really expect people to end school and then move that next week or so.”

Horner said his company is committed to paying the moving costs of residents who want to relocate their mobile home to a nearby Lawrence mobile home park.

Horner estimated there are more than 200 vacant lots at Lawrence mobile home parks and fewer than 130 mobile homes will be affected by the sale of Gaslight. He said that number is shrinking because people already are beginning to find other living accommodations.

City commissioners are being asked to approve several aspects of the development. Details of the plan include:

• Rezoning the 41 acres of the Gaslight Village Mobile Home Park — which is just east of the Home Depot/Best Buy development — from single family residential to RM-10 multi-family zoning.

• A mix of housing units that include 118 four-bedroom units, 92 two-bedroom duplexes, and 94 three-bedroom duplex units. All the housing units will be two-stories tall.

“The four-bedroom cottage is basically a 2,200-square-foot house,” Vatterott said. “The two- and three-bedroom duplexes will look a lot like houses you would see in other neighborhoods.”

• Amenities will include a clubhouse and pool, and a multi-use path that will be connected to the existing path at Naismith Valley Park north of the property.

• Off-street parking for 1,230 vehicles.

The project already has won approval from the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission, and the city’s planning staff is recommending approval as well.

If commissioners approve the plans, Vatterott said he hopes to begin construction work later this summer. The project is scheduled to open by August 2013.

Commissioners will consider the plans at their weekly meeting — which due to the Valentine’s Day holiday — is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. at City Hall.


Tim Quest 6 years, 4 months ago

"You know, there just aren't enough student-focused apartment complexes in Lawrence." - Nobody

Jean Robart 6 years, 4 months ago

geeze--more apartments in Lawrence. Just what we need---NOT

happydays 6 years, 4 months ago

And what exactly is the plan for all the people who live at GasLight? I lived in a mobile home for 6 years because it was all I could afford. It was better than paying rent until I could afford a site built home. Are we just going to send them packing?

muddfoot55 6 years, 4 months ago

How about some affordable "Townie" apartments that do not allow students? Every trailer park in town is in danger. City codes have changed and the new trailers are either too big for the lots, or the city's "set back" rules. Brookwood has been getting for the "migration" from Gaslight for months. I just wonder....I am guessing the residents are having to pay the fee to move their mobile homes. Alot of people can't afford it and the are "forced" to vacant and not look back. Sad, very sad. City of are driving your low to middle class out of town. Who's going to do the dirty blue collar jobs then?

Jonathan Fox 6 years, 4 months ago

"Horner said his company is committed to paying the moving costs of residents who want to relocate their mobile home to a nearby Lawrence mobile home park."

If you read the article you learn a lot about the subject.

Tara Painter 6 years, 3 months ago

muddfoot55 you guys are not the only ones, in the last month, we here at Harper Woods are getting alot of these move in's. The 21st of March they are moving in half a dozen of them. We can't afford a house in this high dollar town, and yet were the ones that stay not the students. They trash our town and leave. There money goes to the schools, not the city. They are more inportant things then more housing for students. What the hell do they need a house for, to so called feel at home. There students they well be living, they don't need all that room. The low class need more of that room then they do. I know tons of families who are cramped in a two bedroom trailer with three or more kids who could use that room. They should of added more trailers in, not move them out. Why are we not helping the lower income family, and giving them what they need. We don't need more student housing or fast food places. I know everyone whould agree with me that there is more better things to do with that then build student housing on it, and how does that save money when most of them leave during the summer. Its no better, and we just built them student appartments across the street by walmart. What has this city done for the locals in the last few years, when during this time we need it the most.

Lawrence Morgan 6 years, 4 months ago

One thing is for sure - the Lawrence City Commission won't do the dirty jobs. We don't need more of this kind of thing in Lawrence. A commentator on an earlier article on the Gaslight said that what we really need in this location is senior housing, not more students. I can't understand why the City Commission approves these projects, unless - sorry, but more and more I think it is true - there is inside funding for votes.

And it's like muddfoot55 said - getting a mobile home is often the first start towards home ownership. I will repeat what he said: City of are driving your low to middle class out of town. Who's going to do the dirty blue collar jobs then?

Many of these people might go to the University if they could. They would be a lot more motivated than some of the students who are there now. And they could contribute in countless ways in the future. But there isn't even a community college in town!

Jonathan Fox 6 years, 4 months ago

Wanting a retirement community in this location doesn't mean there is a demand for it. Just because you build it, doesn't mean Lawrence will become a retirement town. This is a college town plain and simple and students need to live somewhere. The City Commission is probably going to approve this project not because of inside funding but because this is huge tax revenue, and a huge job creator for the hardest hit industry in the country; construction.

The Gas Light villiage, as said in the article, has hundreds of empty lots; more empty than occupied and are being paid for to move to a nearby trailer park.

gccs14r 6 years, 4 months ago

Did you guys not read the article? The trailer park management is paying relocation costs to move the trailers to other parks.

Liberty275 6 years, 3 months ago

Like those old trailers would make it out of the park, much less to the other side of town. That's a ruse.

angel4dennis 6 years, 4 months ago

Why student housing? There is still a need for a bigger Homeless shelter but then that would look bad on the city commissioners to have homeless people by businesses. No, better to cater to students. What about a group home facility for people with disabilities that is more accessible to businesses for jobs and such? Why does everything in Lawrence have to be centered around college students? I feel for those people who are being forced to move their homes so the almighty dollar can be made! Shame.

Alceste 6 years, 4 months ago

If Gaslight Village goes, where will people be able to buy their crystal meth and crack? I wonder if THAT problem has been given due consideration......

Alceste 6 years, 4 months ago

I thought Lawrence was all about "...spending local...."???!!!

Liberty275 6 years, 3 months ago

Maybe you are onto the problem. If each apartment came with a mini lab and it only rented to chemistry students, I'm sure Lawrence would become the capital of the approaching "medical crystal meth" market. Surely all the tweekers would buy local then.

Liberty275 6 years, 3 months ago

Pleasant grove is way too far out of town.

JackMcKee 6 years, 4 months ago

Just the thing to go along with Mexican restaurants and more pizza joints. More apartments. I hope they have fake grass. Lawrence you are becoming tackier by the day.

JackMcKee 6 years, 4 months ago

Here's the next Sound Off, LJWorld, Did Lawrence build more single family homes or apartments last year?

I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the answer was apartments.

I love me some apartments with fake grass.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

Empty bedrooms cost we local homeowners money.

The deal is the market for single family homes is so overloaded that owning a home has become a high risk venture. Over priced housing that the builders and bankers brought to Lawrence make owning a home a bad investment....

After over pricing aka inflation economics:

  1. personal property taxes
  2. maintenance
  3. depreciation instead of appreciation
  4. possible eminent domain
  5. Insurance

Means a person puts more into a home than it could ever bring on the market. My banker tells me there are a flood of homes and empty foreclosed homes in this area.

These bedrooms plus all of the new 64-100 bedroom apartment buildings that are on the table throughout Oread in addition to the new building at 9th and New Hampshire.

This is helter skelter development may well force many folks from Lawrence as owning property in Lawrence becomes a risky investment proposition for retail and single family dwellers.

Market value and Douglas county assessed value are two very different animals.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

The phrase "student housing" is the tool of persuasion. Why does Lawrence promote student housing far away from campus? This thinking supports climate change,global warming and possible deeper damage to the protective ozone layer.

Lawrence,Kansas = the new brown zone!

jhawkinsf 6 years, 4 months ago

At the same time that we're promoting projects that will force people to use cars to get to their destination, we're fighting high density projects downtown that will keep people near their destination. Mixed signals, baby.

Jonathan Fox 6 years, 4 months ago

Actually a surprising number of students use the bus system to get around because the very little parking that is on campus costs money.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

Building for the sake of building makes no sense if the market for it is but an illusion. Lawrence needs a real demand for the bedrooms. Not speculation. Taxpayers cannot afford to support illusions.

These bedrooms plus all of the new 64-100 bedroom apartment buildings that are on the table throughout Oread in addition to the new building at 9th and New Hampshire.

My banker tells me there are a flood of homes and empty foreclosed homes in the Lawrence area. There are also plenty of empty apartments that somehow pay back the owners but not the taxpayers.

Adding miles and miles and miles of new infrastructure is like adding miles and miles and miles of new taxes. In a bedroom community this is not expanding the tax base it is expanding our tax bills.

With increased numbers of houses you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by residential housing does not pay for the services, they require from a municipality.”

Market value and Douglas county assessed value are two very different animals.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

It is imperative that communities conduct a market capacity studies to understand their market potential, before any vote can be taken on retail,residential or light industrial proposals.

Lawrence taxpayers deserve to know our market capacity and the economic impact of new projects.

All new residential development is often mistaken for economic development when instead it could easily be promoting economic displacement and property value depreciation

Could this be a reason for our extraordinarily high taxes? Could this be a reason Lawrence,Kansas the most expensive place to live and do business in Kansas?

Every developer that comes before a City or Planning Commission make their projects sound like they were written in Lake Wobegon where all the site plans are good looking and the economic impacts above average. The symptoms of a flooded residential market are everywhere. Depreciation of residential property values is significant.

Our governing bodies must remember there are still only so many tax dollars available in Lawrence,Kansas.

Jonathan Fox 6 years, 4 months ago

I have to say, in a community of vast amounts of renters (students and other) it's appalling the amount of property taxes that residents and businesses have to pay so that the renters who don't pay property taxes enjoy the services provided. Lawrence needs to operate similar to a tourist community since very few students are going to own property. Places like Chicago has sales tax of 17% and draws loads of tax dollars from visiting tourists. Lawrence isn't exactly a Chicago like tourist town, but it does draw out of town "visitors" (for lack of better word) who don't pay property taxes.

gccs14r 6 years, 4 months ago

You really think the property tax isn't factored into the rent?

Liberty275 6 years, 3 months ago

It's about 3 layers down, buried in the overall market. Prices are set by the market regardless of costs. If you are priced over the market you won't rent regardless of how much tax you pay.

Also, renters don't really get a break. The renters in similar houses around us pay more than our mortgage, insurance and property tax. That's what makes Merril's rant about buying a house being risky a load of BS. If you buy within your means, you will pay less and own something when you are done.

jobs 6 years, 4 months ago

118 4bedroom units? I thought lawrence only allowed 3 unrelated people to live in a dwelling. must be a special varience for out of town developers.or a student guest room?

gccs14r 6 years, 4 months ago

In housing zoned as single-family. The developers want to change the zoning.

gccs14r 6 years, 4 months ago

There is a park behind JCP. It may be full now, though, since folks are bailing out of Gaslight.

Tara Painter 6 years, 3 months ago

Harper woods, Brookwood, and theres one behind the JCP, one in north lawrence, one by the hospital, two off of Michgan st. there is even a tiny one off of 15th st. There are also a trailer park in Baldwin City.

Liberty275 6 years, 3 months ago

There may be a few parks around town, but gaslight is the worst of the worst. What park is going to take those old heaps and, without meaning to pass judgement, those people that live in them? Some renters on our street came from gaslight and the cops were over there every week. With them gone, we rarely see any.

pagan_idolator 6 years, 4 months ago

I cannot confirm this is true but I was told by a resident of Gaslight that the mobile home owners will only pay to move the trailers into Brookwood Mobile home park on 19th street - another park they own. Both parks are a disgrace and not kept up with. Many of the trailers in Gaslight cannot be moved due to their fragile state and lots of folks are abandoning them and they are being torn down. Every time I would go visit this friend I was always appalled by the condition of the roads. The owners just let it sit and go to crap.

Tara Painter 6 years, 3 months ago

not true!! Just recently they have decied to allow them to move in Harper Woods just near by. I was told this last week. 3-9-12.

Liberty275 6 years, 3 months ago

And what about the current residents? You know, the one's so poor all they can afford is a trailer. Where will they be expected to go? If I was cynical I'd think that was the reason the city and county just gave $100,000 to our expanded homeless shelter.

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