Archive for Friday, February 10, 2012

Town Talk: PepperJax Grill plans to move to Mass. Street; retailers post strong holiday sales numbers; Gould Evans slated to be architects for rec center idea

February 10, 2012, 9:50 a.m. Updated February 10, 2012, 11:03 a.m.


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News and notes from around town:

• From art to the art of a sandwich — that appears to be the direction the building at 919 Mass. is heading. For years, the 919 building was home to The Phoenix Gallery, before it moved into the 800 block of Massachusetts.

Now plans have been filed at City Hall to convert the vacant building into a restaurant. I haven’t been able to get an official word on what eatery will take over the spot — so take this for what’s it worth — but word on the street is that PepperJax Grill is set to move into the space. PepperJax has had a restaurant at 947 N.H. for several years, but it has not been a real big secret that the restaurant would like to get onto Massachusetts Street. I’ll let you know if I get some official word.

But indeed changes are on tap for the building. The building has some wooden siding on its facade. Plans filed at City Hall call for that siding to come off so the original brick can be exposed and a new awning can be added.

UPDATE: I did get the confirmation I was looking for that PepperJax is indeed moving into the space at 919. Allison Vance Moore of Lawrence's Colliers International office has brokered a deal for the space, and tells me PepperJax is excited about the move. I'm working to get in touch with a contact at PepperJax to get more information about the company's timeline and such.

• We can now close the book on holiday sales in Lawrence, and the latest numbers show it wasn’t a bad year. The city recently received its sales tax check from the state for January.

The January check largely represents sales that were made in December, so the report provides a good glimpse at how the critical holiday sales month played out in the city.

The new report shows the city collected $2.42 million in sales taxes for the period, up about 5.6 percent from the same period a year ago. In total, the increase amounts to an extra $128,000 in the city’s coffers. This also marks the fifth month in a row that the city’s sales tax collections have increased, compared to the same time period a year ago.

To look at it another way, the numbers indicate $111.8 million in retail sales occurred in Lawrence during the critical December/early January sales period. In non-inflation adjusted dollars, that’s the highest retail sales total for the period since 2009, when retailers posted $114.1 million in sales.

But, of course, inflation does exist. When you adjust the numbers for inflation, the results are still fairly positive. The 2012 mark is tied for the fifth highest total since 2002. Here’s a look at inflation-adjusted retail sales in Lawrence:

  1. 2012: $111.8 million
  2. 2011: $105.2 million
  3. 2010: $102.1 million
  4. 2009: $119.6 million
  5. 2008: $112.4 million
  6. 2007: $107.0 million
  7. 2006: $112.9 million
  8. 2005: $111.8 million
  9. 2004: $105.0 million
  10. 2003: $105.2 million
  11. 2002: $115.6 million

All in all, it looks like a surprisingly good report for Lawrence retailers. The same can’t be said of my credit card.

• Speaking of surprising, here is news that is not. The Lawrence-based architecture firm of Gould Evans is set to become the official architect for the city’s idea of a new West Lawrence recreation center.

City commissioners will consider approving a $55,000 contract with Gould Evans, which calls for the firm to produce a “conceptual design, construction estimates and provide site selection services” for the project. It is no surprise that Gould Evans won out over four other finalists — including local firms Treanor Architects and Sabatini & Associates. Gould Evans — which also is doing the library design — had been working with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department for quite some time on some preliminary ideas for the project.

One of the first orders of business for Gould Evans will be to evaluate potential sites for the center — which the city has taken to calling the Lawrence Activity and Wellness Center. Gould Evans and the city previously has been working with the idea that the center would be built on city-owned ground just north of the Walmart at Sixth and Wakarusa. That’s still a possible site, but as we’ve previously reported there has been an offer by a group led by Schwada family to donate property on the northwest corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway. The development group argues the Sixth and SLT site might give the center a better chance to grow into a regional facility for youth tournaments and sporting events.

The commission also is set to approve a $16,500 contract with Jeffrey Byrne & Associates of Kansas City to study the feasibility of creating a public fundraising campaign to help finance the center, which likely would have a price tag of about $15 million.

Even if city commissioners approve these two contracts, they still will have to decide whether to formally move ahead with the recreation center idea. Commissioners previously have said they want to see another set of cost estimates and have a better feel for how much potential there is to raise private funds before they fully commit to the idea.


JackMcKee 2 years, 2 months ago

No to Pepperjax on Mass. That space is needed for more Mexican food. There is still a block or two without a Mexucan joint. This is unacceptable.


Richard Heckler 2 years, 2 months ago

How is the rec center being paid for? with tax dollars?

Put the matter before the voters. Or is there fear taxpayers will not want to use OUR tax dollars in that fashion? Maybe we want to use those dollars for public school assistance?

WHY were taxpayers forced to vote on?

  1. The T

  2. Money for road repairs money that have been been in the budget considering we know road repairs have been around for 100 years or more

  3. The library

  4. The rec center will cost at least as much as the library in all ways. This large expensive rec center will not be centrally located = reckless planning.

What happened to democracy?


thebcman 2 years, 2 months ago

PepperJax needs to get more kid friendly and offer a kids-sized sub.


Scott Morgan 2 years, 2 months ago

Have no idea what a Pepperjax is but hopefully it's a Mexican place, if so nobody in Lawrence has over 300 feet to walk to one.

Not a believer in Greenieland, but perhaps we could hook up some butt hoses to run the T in Lawrence.

Honey, my tummy not feel zo gut...........ohhhh my better now and we made a homeless man's ride free on my belly gas. .


ljreader 2 years, 2 months ago

PepperJax needs a drive thru with a long window so we can still watch


BruceWayne 2 years, 2 months ago

"The commission also is set to approve a $16,500 contract with Jeffrey Byrne & Associates of Kansas City to study the feasibility of creating a public fundraising campaign to help finance the center, which likely would have a price tag of about $15 million." Maybe they could just put that money toward the campaign. How much money are Amyx and this group of clowns going to waste?


BruceWayne 2 years, 2 months ago

"Gould Evans — which also is doing the library design — had been working with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department for quite some time on some preliminary ideas for the project." For Free? I smell a RAT.


Andini 2 years, 2 months ago

What's going to be left in that building besides apartments with Pepperjax and Parks & Rec moving soon as well?


Curtis Lange 2 years, 2 months ago

Good for Pepperjax! Love their food!


Jean Robart 2 years, 2 months ago

Looking forward to eating there. Better access to parking and less walking for this disabled senior.


imastinker 2 years, 2 months ago

That's really disappointing. One reason I go to pepperjax is that it's fast and easy to get in and out. I can always find parking nearby, within a block. The chances of finding good parking at 9th and mass is fairly slim, at least at lunchtime.


obamasocks 2 years, 2 months ago

mmmmm....pepperjax. Wednesday night free kids meals are still one of the best deals in town.


lunacydetector 2 years, 2 months ago

that's a very expensive move. they must be confident their sales will have a dramatic increase moving.


irvan moore 2 years, 2 months ago

i like pepper jax, good product at a fair price


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