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Archive for Friday, February 17, 2012

9th and N.H. project rejected

City Commission likely to take up development plan

February 17, 2012

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Still too tall.

The city’s Historic Resources Commission unanimously rejected plans for a multi-story hotel/apartment building at the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets, likely putting the fate of the project in the hands of Lawrence city commissioners.

Historic resources commissioners were told the building — which varies in height from six to three stories — would damage a historic district of homes along Rhode Island Street, which is just east of the proposed project.

“The building would loom like the clumsy giant who has moved next door, blocking sunlight and wondering why it never gets invited to potlucks,” said K.T. Walsh, a board member for the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association.

Members of the development team — which is led by Lawrence businessmen Doug Compton and Mike Treanor — had made several changes to the building in an attempt to address neighborhood concerns. But an attorney for the neighbors said there was only so much that could be done.

“It is an elephant,” said attorney Ron Schneider. “They’ve said let’s clean up the elephant. Let’s wash it. Let’s clip its nails, maybe clip its tail even. But it is still an elephant in a backyard.”

Compton said after the meeting that he was not planning to make any more changes to the building’s height in an effort to win HRC approval. Instead, he said he would appeal the decision to the Lawrence City Commission, which likely will hear the project in the next several weeks.

“We believe it is still a good project, and we’re excited to move forward on it,” Compton said.

Historic resources commissioners had little debate about rejecting the project. The commission did not provide any specific guidance on how the project would need to change in order win approval from the board. Previously, though, the commission had indicated the building needed to be more similar in size to the adjacent Lawrence Arts Center. That would require the new building to be no taller than three stories.

Earlier this month, architects for the project reduced the number of apartments in the proposed building by 13 units. That allowed the height of the eastern edge of the building — the portion closest to the residential neighborhood — to drop from four stories to three.

But neighbors remained concerned that much of the rest of the building would be five stories tall, or actually six stories near its Ninth and New Hampshire entrance. The building is proposed to house 80 hotel rooms for the TownPlace Marriott chain, 21 apartments, retail space and a sixth-floor restaurant.

The project, though, can still move forward if city commissioners approve the plans in the coming weeks. But Schneider said city commissioners will have to make a very specific legal finding that there are no feasible and prudent alternatives for the property. Schneider said he thinks that will be a hard issue for the developers to overcome.

“There are an innumerable number of options that are feasible and prudent for that property,” Schneider said.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

Prior to the construction of the Arts Center, that whole block was made up of older housing stock that was part of the E. Lawrence neighborhood. Any construction on the lots in question should be done on the scale of the Arts Center-- that would be a reasonable transition between the residential neighborhood to the east and the commercial sector downtown. This proposed hotel/apt complex is not.

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LJ Whirled 2 years, 2 months ago

Mixed feelings ... like the idea of building the city core, not just strip centers, and I would think scale is necessary to make it practical. There ought to be a way to blend it new with old.

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scaramouchepart2 2 years, 2 months ago

The houses on RI, as has been stated and you refuse to pay attention so you can rant, have been well taken care the past few years. The owners in this block have spent hard earned money and time to fix and replace the historic block. There are KU teachers and business people who live here. Not unsuccessful hippies.

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swan_diver 2 years, 2 months ago

When Compton was on the city commission a couple decades ago -- he often mused about not giving a flying f*#k about city governance, or the 'community,' for that matter, in the chit-chat after the meetings. 'I'm here to learn how it's done from the inside, and when I'm out of here -- I'm going to do it' -- would be a close paraphrase of one of his mantras. "That's cool, Doug," said the man standing next to him.

I guarantee you that if this proposal for 900 New Hampshire were being made for lots on Vermont Street, in full view of a more well-heeled demographic from Old West, this monstrosity wouldn't have gotten this far. It still all about race and class.

This project is not going to be built in its current configuration. It's illegal. If the city commission decides to collectively pee all over the exiting guidelines which protect a good deal of the context of Lawrence's historic Civil War-era central business district -- Old East Lawrence residents will have their day in court -- and win.

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sunny 2 years, 2 months ago

Most of the houses on Rhode Island need to be torn down!

The hotel will get built and I can't wait. Lawrence needs jobs! Something those loons in East Lawrence know nothing about!

Hippies hate dougie because he's successful

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Gotland 2 years, 2 months ago

YOu can build in West Lawrence. We need to build our own" downtown".

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FalseHopeNoChange 2 years, 2 months ago

Damage "historic" east Lawrence is too funny. Anything that is more expensive than the teepee by the RR tracks on East 15th street would be too damaging.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

For those that persist in the wrongheaded notion that Lawrence needs to grow or die, I point out again that we could have a relatively stable population (in Lawrence) with a healthy economy - this most likely occurs when we have some people coming, some leaving, and a continual turnover of college students each year.

Smaller towns that don't have a college, in which people die and young people leave each year do in fact need to keep attracting "more" people from outside.

Not sure why they like to talk about the global population in this context, but the simple fact is that the global population is also unsustainable if it keeps increasing each year, and may in fact already be so.

The question is "does Lawrence have to 'grow or die' and the obvious answer is no".

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Bob_Loblaw 2 years, 2 months ago

Compton not getting his way!???

That would be AWESOME.....and an earth-shattering first in this town. Only money moves his world....

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Ockhams_Razor 2 years, 2 months ago

Will the building have a giraffe painted on the side of it?

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Keith Richards 2 years, 2 months ago

I hope the city commission overturns this decision.

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citizen1 2 years, 2 months ago

The Histarical Committee has its vision of what should occur in Lawrence. It is too bad that it is not consistent with the long term economic sustainability of Downtown.

How sad...

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blindrabbit 2 years, 2 months ago

Historic my keister! The project is being held up because many if not most of the complainers are displaced individuals from Lawrence's hippy/rastifarian days of the 1960's. Been here since the 1940's but many harken for the return of head shops and coffee houses that were the fashion then. No progress is all the progress many of the East Siders need.

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jimmyjms 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm assuming that it was reported because it was said, which is the purpose of reporting. I'm questioning the wisdom of the statement, and whether the argument, which I support (to a degree) is best delivered by someone whose own property is littered with trash throughout the year. The entire thing is not a "best foot forward" being that this argument is headed to the PC, who are not likely to take such statements seriously.

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scaramouchepart2 2 years, 2 months ago

There were many along with KT who did provide facts such as the many violations the project had. Just because Chad Lawhorn only reported a comment does not mean anyone KT or others did not provide facts with each person's comments. Perhaps you should be questioning why Chad Lawhorn chose to only comment on the anthropomophisms.

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bigpimpin 2 years, 2 months ago

Bunch of sh*t hole houses and crusty poor people stopping DEVELOPMENT and PROGESS in Larryville.

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scaramouchepart2 2 years, 2 months ago

K.T. Along with others was trying to give a reference to the HRC as to the affect the building would have. Something the HRC could actually see in their minds eye. Someone used the term parking a cruise ship during an earlier meeting. I am sure you have also done something similar when trying to describe an item not directly in view to the audience. Your comments are meant strictly to inflict injury and not constructive.

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Hong_Kong_Phooey 2 years, 2 months ago

So, according to K.T., everyone who is tall must be a "clumsy giant" and, therefore, not deserving of friends. Interesting.

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FlintlockRifle 2 years, 2 months ago

Bozo, you hit the nail dead center on the head,, down town needs some new places, lord knows we don't want to wind up as a no place town like Topeka.

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scaramouchepart2 2 years, 2 months ago

Corrections; Compton was not asked to buy the properties. There was some discussion on the blogs that they should sell to Compton only. The residents on RI have spent a lot of money returning these houses to their original beauty with some allowable upgrades like running water and electricity. Lawrence has a violent history and these houses were here during the start of Lawrence and so they may not be old compared to Rome, but they are Lawrence's history of a time period where someone decided coming to town and forcing their opinion on the residents had a negative impact. We have not learned from the past, obviously, but we have a constant reminder and someday the City Comission will finally learn from Lawrence's past and respect it.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 2 months ago

Economic displacement is anything but progress = wreckanomics

Simply because people disagree with some Doug Compton politics is no indication that anyone hates Doug Compton. That is an illusion. Get real I've no reason to hate Doug Compton. He has never been unfriendly or hateful towards me.

What about city hall enforcing guidelines and ordinances? Is this the problem?

A three story building provides jobs.....

Most city governments like to know definitely if projects are in economic demand and will actually produce new economic growth rather than put any existing business out of business. Putting any business out of business is unfriendly to business and unfriendly to taxpayers. Is the market flooded? Some say it is.

What about city hall enforcing guidelines and ordinances?

Where is the policy/study that should include: Economic Growth Potential for the New Hampshire Corridor The Economic Growth Design for the New Hampshire Corridor The Economic Impact of the New Hampshire Corridor on downtown and similar operations The Results of a Cost of Community Services Study * Economic Impact Study Results from 3 outside sources selected by City Hall

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flyin_squirrel 2 years, 2 months ago

Historical District on Rhode Island? Wow, that is a stretch....

Nothing in Lawrence is so rich in "History" that it cannot have change next to it. HRC makes it sound like they are tearing down the house George Washington grew up in.

All that is happening is a bigger, newer structure is going to be built next to some aging houses and buildings. (I guess aging in Lawrence means Historical...)

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lunacydetector 2 years, 2 months ago

time to break out the rubber stamp, and throw in some infrastructure costs on the backs of the citizens while you're at it. maybe a catwalk across new hampshire street connecting into the parking garage for some free parking is in order.

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booyalab 2 years, 2 months ago

There are two ways of framing this debate

evil Doug Compton vs. historical integrity

jobs and apartments vs. ugly, useless empty lot

I think I'll choose the framework that involves assessing reality, over the one that coddles a few pretentious sensibilities.

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pizzapete 2 years, 2 months ago

We all know it doesn't really matter what these no good Historic Resources Commission people think. The all powerful Lawrence City Commision gets to decide who has to follow city regulations and who doesn't. I hope they allow apartment developers to put fake grass over every sidewalk downtown so we can finally have a decent place to play put put golf. We all know that put put golf will bring more people downtown.

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jimmyjms 2 years, 2 months ago

"“The building would loom like the clumsy giant who has moved next door, blocking sunlight and wondering why it never gets invited to potlucks,” said K.T. Walsh, a board member for the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association."

If I ever had an issue that needed a spokesperson, KT Walsh would be the very last person I'd look to.

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OralFixation 2 years, 2 months ago

This town is pathetic. Three to Six stories is too tall? What a joke. Downtown has the potential to be so great, yet businesses continue to struggle and fail. We can't call for an improved business environment downtown and then stand in the way when people try to do things that will absolutely have a positive impact. Its amazing how hypocritical some people are. They call for greater density to reduce sprawl and then block it every chance they get. Face it Lawrence needs to grow, or else it with wither and end up like Topeka. Actually, thats not fair. Topeka has done things to attract large companies that create jobs.

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history 2 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 2 months ago

Empty bedrooms,offices and retail space do not generate tax revenue and maybe not property tax revenue if property owners are not required to pay. These empty spaces do not generate employment.

A three story building provides construction jobs....

On the other hand more new retail space may well add more economic displacement. Yet will not provide additional sales tax revenue to the community because all new retail space is pulling from the same number of sales tax dollars available in this community.

This new space may take business from existing business thus causing that existing business to go out of business = negative growth in sales and sales tax revenue = no net gain

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

I don't favor this building, but I do favor all the construction jobs it will provide while it's being built. I don't favor this building, but I do favor the infusion of millions of dollars into the local economy. I don't favor this building, but I do favor the increase in the tax base that the improvements to this property will provide. I don't favor this building, but I do favor the jobs that will be provided once the project is completed. I don't favor this building, but I do favor the fact that all those employed people will be out there spending their wages, supporting other local businesses all the while local sales taxes will be collected. I don't favor this building, but I do favor having a variety of new sources of tax revenue that can then be used to improve neighborhoods such as East Lawrence. I don't favor this building, but ...

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Gotland 2 years, 2 months ago

It's is pathetic when a town that is a mere 150 years old gets all wrapped up in "historic preservation". Yes thre is some history here. But come on, it's Lawrnce, Kansas not Rome.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 2 months ago

What if the property taxes are not paid accurately? Then what? The builders do have some such history. Link to the article: http://cjonline.com/news/2010-10-28/college_hill_taxes_go_unpaid

If city/county government could live off of property taxes alone there would be no need for other fees and taxes. That is not the case. Residential taxes often do not produce revenue necessary pay for the services residentials require from a municipality.

Other interesting facts concerning cost of development to taxpayers: 1. http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/18/free_lunch_how_the_wealthiest_americans 2. http://www.uua.org/events/generalassembly/2008/commonthreads/115777.shtml

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Benjamin Roberts 2 years, 2 months ago

901 - $104,000 905 - $93,980 909 - $106,300 913 - $147,400 917 - $178,600

Total $630,280

http://www.douglas-county.com/online_services/valuestaxes/disclaimer.asp

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Nikki May 2 years, 2 months ago

I still don't see 9th and New Hampshire as EAST Lawrence. It's downtown. But, if we are worried about clumsy giants that stupid, ugly hotel shouldn't be next to campus, but it is. I'm sure this will go in. And the building across from it would be blocking sun anyway. I'm babbling. I don't think I FAVOR this building, but I do think the reasons against it are a bit insane. Now, the fact there are so many empty buildings already, that's a valid argument.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 2 months ago

Market Capacity Potential

When more hotels, new retail, new residential and more requests for tax dollar handouts surface here are a few thoughts that get my attention:

It is imperative that Lawrence,Kansas conduct a market capacity study to understand the Lawrence market potential, before any further construction of hotels, retail,residential or light industrial proposals are approved.

How about a cost of community services study just to get a peek at what is paying back and what is not?

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

All new 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 is 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 markets are everywhere. Depreciation of property values is significant.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 2 months ago

If the developers cannot meet downtown historic guidelines and cannot make money on a three story building perhaps the project should be withdrawn.

Why should the city commission approve a project that goes against community guidelines?

Then again why did the City Commission approve site plan violations for the apartment project?

The smart approach was offered to the city commission by the neighborhood a few weeks ago. Which is way over and above appropriate. East Lawrence Neighborhood recognizes the economic development potential. The concept put forth by East Lawrence was to bring to the table a viable economic growth plan designed for the New Hampshire corridor. Do this before any further projects are approved.

Quite a respectable request that would serve taxpayers across the board well.

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BruceWayne 2 years, 2 months ago

100 bucks says this goes through as is. If not he will do it anyways and then be forgiven. That is the Compton way.

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Pastor_Bedtime 2 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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gccs14r 2 years, 2 months ago

So how difficult would it be to buy up the structures on the west side of RI so that there are no back yards to loom over?

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Clint Church 2 years, 2 months ago

"Compton said after the meeting that he was not planning to make any more changes to the building’s height in an effort to win HRC approval. Instead, he said he would appeal the decision to the Lawrence City Commission, which likely will hear the project in the next several weeks. " That's all that he needs to do to get it approved.

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GUMnNUTS 2 years, 2 months ago

Will the sixth floor restaurant be Mexican or pizza?

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