Archive for Tuesday, February 21, 2012

City moves Auto Plaza project forward

February 21, 2012


South Lawrence may soon have a new landmark.

Lawrence city commissioners unanimously expressed support for a proposal by the Briggs Auto Group to build a 75-foot-tall wind turbine in the center of the Lawrence Auto Plaza near 31st and Iowa streets.

The plan also calls for parking about 20 vehicles in the right-of-way along Iowa Street to make the Auto Plaza more visible to potential car buyers. The project is expected to attract attention beyond even Iowa Street.

“Lawrence will get national attention from this development,” said Russ Briggs, owner of Briggs Auto Group.

The project will include a new multimillion-dollar showroom for Nissan, which will be along Iowa Street near where the Chrysler dealership is currently located. Briggs said the project also will include a new Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep showroom on the site of the current Nissan location, which is on the western edge of the Auto Plaza. Briggs said the Nissan Corporation is providing significant funding for the project, which will help promote their new line of electric cars.

The wind turbine will be used to generate a portion of the electricity for Briggs’ property, including six electric charging stations that will be installed at the Nissan dealership.

Commissioners on a 5-0 vote directed staff to continue working with Briggs, but the project will have several more steps before it can be finalized.

Planning Director Scott McCullough said the city and Briggs will have to have discussions with the Kansas Department of Transportation about displaying cars along Iowa Street. The project calls for cars to be parked in the current stretch of green space that is between Iowa Street and the frontage road that runs along Iowa Street in front of the Auto Plaza.

The city is uncertain whether KDOT or the city controls that stretch of green space. The project also will require converting West 29th Terrace, which runs down the center of the Auto Plaza from a public street to a private street. That will allow vehicles to be parked in the median of the street, and also perhaps will allow for signs to be hung from street light poles.

Commissioners said they were more comfortable privatizing the street — as long as agreements are in place that ensures the public can still use the road — rather than creating the precedent that city median could be used for commercial purposes.

Commissioners though were told that allowing the vehicles to be parked along Iowa Street likely will generate requests from other businesses that want to increase their visibility.

“While we applaud what Mr. Briggs and his company are doing, we do not want to have others forgotten in the process,” said Jane Eldredge, an attorney who represents several local businesses. “We would hope and expect to have similar treatment for those who follow.”

Briggs hopes to have the entire project completed by October of 2013.


Evan Ridenour 6 years, 4 months ago

Are the dealers going to pay for the use of the public right-of-way?

Is the city going to address the blaring exception to the otherwise incredibly strict city policy of displays on public right-of-ways in a way that everyone else in town doesn't now expect they too should get special treatment?

What makes this something that would garner "national attention?" The fact it has a solitary windmill in the middle of the development?

Let's be honest, the only reason it has a windmill was to help get the project votes from the liberal members of the commission, it serves no real purpose and it looks horrible.

svenway_park 6 years, 4 months ago

The windmill isn't about commission votes, it is a highly visible marketing gimmick for consumers about electric cars. Otherwise, I agree with your observations.

captainzeep 6 years, 4 months ago

I like it. Agressive plan and investment. If I bought one of these electric Nissans I can get the "tank" topped up with wind power when in for service?...that's cool! Glad to see more effort and improvement going into the Auto Plaza - should help generate more $ here in Lawrence plus additional sales tax revenue. I suppose I'm a "liberal" by some standard but I dig cars, jobs and tax paying businesses.

JackMcKee 6 years, 4 months ago

Jane Eldredge, the AstroTurf / climate getting drier lawyer. Zero credibility. The woman can't even make a cogent argument. How she has clients is another Lawtence mystery.

pace 6 years, 4 months ago

The plan sounds great to me. I like windmills. About time we had a showcase. I am sure the idea that a business might try something different will horrify some but , if business can use their physical plant to generate excitement that translates into sales. Great. I am a liberal, and liberals like jobs and neat cars and windmills. Go go go.

somebodynew 6 years, 4 months ago

I am not against the windmill, or privitizing the street (as long as those assurances are in place); but, I am against the displaying of cars on the Right of Way. What about those "special" parking ordinances against parking cars in front yard, or the "Yard Sale Police" that remove signs from Rights of Way??? If they allow this business to do this, then everybody should be able to do it. And I don't like that idea a whole lot.

Scott Morgan 6 years, 4 months ago

I like the idea of windmills, except who is going to clean up the dead boids? Would sure ruin my day to be admiring a foreign made car and get thumped by a 14 pound Canadian Goose converted into a gravity bomb.

Watch out duck Edna! No Earl that's a goose!

Also, hope the growing number of folks freaking out over the constant every minute hum of these windmills isn't true.

flyin_squirrel 6 years, 4 months ago

Where is Brigg's going to get the money for this? He refuses to honor a contract and pay over a million dollars for a car dealership he purchased but now has money to do this...

Anyone doing any of his contracting work might want to get their pay before they start their work.

Also, did you know that every car Briggs sells, he donates a small portion of the money to the KSU Athletic Department. So any KU alumni buying a car from him is essentially giving money to the KSU Athletic Department as well.

flyin_squirrel 6 years, 4 months ago


Get back to work before Briggs fires you....

Look in the Topeka Courts, the trial was last week.

New2KU 6 years, 4 months ago

Gee, maybe the development group wanting to build apartments and retial space near downtown should have proposed putting a windmill on top of their building.....

John Hamm 6 years, 4 months ago

"“Lawrence will get national attention from this development,” said Russ Briggs, owner of Briggs Auto Group" Yes, but the laughing stock seems like bad press. Oh that's right "any press is good press."

JackMcKee 6 years, 4 months ago

Anyone seen the floor at Bramlage? That's the kind of taste these people have. That saud, it might be perfect for Iowa.

BigAl 6 years, 4 months ago

There are several other businesses that use 29th Terrace. Before the city hands that street over to Briggs, I hope they consult these other folks. They should have a say in this before they lose or limit their access.

Chad Lawhorn 6 years, 4 months ago

My understanding of how the street vacation process works is that property owners on both sides of the street will have "their half of the street," so to speak, deeded back over to them. The street is basically split down the centerline. So, although Briggs is the one bringing this forward, other property owners will have to be involved in the process of vacating the street. My understanding is there is at least one non-auto related business on the street, Stanion Wholesale Electric Co. No other property owners showed up at Tuesday's meeting to comment on the proposal, but commissioners did direct staff members to reach out to the other property owners. Thanks, Chad Lawhorn Journal-World

BigAl 6 years, 4 months ago

Thanks Chad. However, besides Stanion, there are other businesses that would be affected if 29th Street Terrace were given limited access. 29th Terrace dumps out on Four Wheel Drive and businesses along that street would also be affected. 29th Street Terrace gives great access to Four Wheel Drive from Iowa Street and it does have quite a bit of traffic on it.

BigAl 6 years, 4 months ago

Crown and Laird Noller are both big contributors to KU in both academics and athletics. Just sayin'.......

svenway_park 6 years, 4 months ago

I agree with Eride that the issue I see is the blatant exception to the city's sign ordinance, which has helped prevent south Iowa street from looking like so many other towns ugly commercial strips.

Jane Eldridge last night was openly warning the city commission: 'If you allow Briggs to do this, my clients will be looking for similar exceptions to the sign ordinance and use of advertising on right of ways' She just said it in different words.

Watch for sign application exceptions to appear in the near future.

Jean Robart 6 years, 4 months ago

not sure this is a good idea. The parking of cars on the right of way seems to be a potentially serious mistake. Can't the inflate a giant gorilla and hoist it over the dealerships?

Randall Uhrich 6 years, 4 months ago

This proposal will change the right-of-way from a safe escape route to use to avoid a colision to a major hazard right next to Iowa street. Besides that, it will establish a precedent for any other business with the same idea for increased exposure. I don't think they've thought this thing through.

1julie1 6 years, 4 months ago

Windmill idea is cool; the rest seems in need of much more discussion and forethought.

Will they allow mattress displays in the right-of-way? How about elevated dance platforms for the dancing, sign-holding hucksters? Maybe we could enjoy a "carpet of the week" as we drive down Iowa Street.

Is window shopping supposed to be the purpose for Iowa Street, or is it a transportation artery?

Additional displays would seem to be a distraction for already distracted drivers.

blogger1031 6 years, 4 months ago

Another development to look for: Briggs Honda. It's in the works. How else could John Ellena stand by as this takes place??

Aaron Cromwell owns an environmental/alternative energy firm: I wonder who will be doing the work on the new windmill???

Bob Schumm: Drives a Jeep he bought from Briggs with sticker on the back.

How can this city commission vote unbiased on this? I wonder if they get basket ball tickets in return for the votes . . .

RoeDapple 6 years, 4 months ago

Maybe they should just put some clown out there waving his arms and wearing a sign . . .

Matthew Herbert 6 years, 4 months ago

Not that this has much to do with the story, but it's more of a "citizens beware" post and the LJworld forum seems like the best place for it: I had Briggs work on my truck last year - $700 later and less than 100 miles after they worked on it, it broke down. When I took it back, they admitted that it looked like the work was done wrong the first time and thus they would re-do it "for only the cost of parts".....232 miles later and another $250+, it broke down again. Out of anger, I took it to Garber Auto who pointed out all the ways Briggs had screwed up in doing the work the first, and apparently second time. They fixed it for less than Brigg's charged EITHER time and 10,000 miles later, not a single bit of trouble. I wouldn't spend a dime at Brigg's. I'd be happier seeing yet another Mexican restaurant go in that spot.

damnyankee 6 years, 4 months ago

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brink75 6 years, 4 months ago

SOOOOO, if Briggs gets to put up a windmill like KU did over on west campus, and Zarco has a wind turbine on 9th, when do residents get the option? I just think if everyone can stick up a dish in the yard or on the side of the house for tv, I should be abel to have a wind turbine or windmill.

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