News and notes from around town:
• In my best Dr. Evil voice, I say, lasers. No, a new laser store is not opening in Lawrence. (Thankfully. The last thing a man who makes good-hearted fun of his wife on a regular basis wants in town is a laser store.) But a new type of high-tech spa that will feature a variety of treatments with lasers and other devices is set to open in West Lawrence.
Dr. Kathy Gaumer and two other partners are finishing work to open AesthetiCare of Lawrence in the Oread Medical Building near Clinton Parkway and Kasold Drive. The business will be what’s called a “med spa.” It will offer the traditional spa treatments such as massages, facials, waxing (I assume for your car) and other similar services. But it also will offer services not found at traditional spas because the services require supervision by a physician.
Gaumer said those will include laser skin resurfacing, laser skin rejuvenation, laser treatment for pigmentation of the skin, laser skin tightening and other types of services that involve deep treatment or injections.
Gaumer was an OBGYN physician in Lawrence for 16 years, but also had a small aesthetics practice in Lawrence during part of that time. When Gaumer decided to leave her OBGYN practice to take a medical position at Shawnee Mission Medical Center, she said several patients asked her to keep her aesthetics practice open. She is partnering with Shea Pritchard, a licensed aesthetician, and Matthew Taranto, who has operated AesthetiCare in Leawood for the last 10 years.
Gaumer said the new business will employ about 10 people. She hopes to have the business open by early to mid-February.
What’s that? It is not for your car. Oh, my.
• Last week we reported on the not-so-good-news about Lawrence home building totals hitting a historic low. Well, we don’t yet have the final numbers on home sales in Lawrence, but the latest numbers we have show that industry has struggled some too.
The Lawrence Board of Realtors has compiled its numbers through November, and thus far home sales are down 15 percent from the same period a year ago. The board reports 982 home sales, down from 1,155 through November 2011.
For those of you taking off your shoes to do high-power arithmetic, you can stop. That’s a difference of 173 homes. But how is this for some arithmetic? Say those homes would have had an average selling price of about $185,000 each. At that level, those 173 homes would have been worth about $32 million in sales. I believe the standard real estate commission is 6 percent. At that level, we’re talking about $1.92 million worth of lost real estate commissions as a result of the downturn. When you add in the money that lenders would make off servicing $30 million worth of loans, fees paid to title companies, appraisers, inspectors and others, the impact on the local economy grows even higher.
But when you are talking about lost real estate commissions, that has a particularly strong impact on the local economy. Most real estate agents are local. I’ve never thought of it this way, but the downturn in home sales is basically the equivalent of a company that has a $2 million annual payroll shutting down.
I wish I could tell you that there is good news right around the corner, but November’s numbers didn’t suggest that. Home sales for the month were down nearly 25 percent from November 2010. So, the numbers aren’t yet trending in the right direction.
Other numbers from the report include:
- Sales of newly built homes continue to be in the dumps, down 43.4 percent from the same period a year ago. In total, there have been 60 sales of newly constructed homes.
- The average selling price of a home is actually up for the year to $184,571 compared to $181,043. The median selling price — the price at which half sell above and half sell below — is $158,000, which is basically unchanged from a year ago.
- The average days on market for a home is 95, up from 80 a year ago. The median days on market is 61, up from 42 a year ago.
I’m expecting to get the end-of-the-year totals in another week or so. I’ll pass them along when I do.
• Lawrence residents, get ready to say hello to your newest sister. City Commissioner Bob Schumm tells me that Lawrence’s Sister Cities Advisory Board is in the beginning stages of planning for a Lawrence delegation to travel to Iniades, Greece — which became a sister city to Lawrence in November 2009.
Schumm said the group is planning for a trip in late July or early August that would coincide with the time that Kansas University Theater students are in the city. KU students travel there each summer to participate in classical theater training.
The delegation likely would be between 10 to 20 people, and could include one or two city commissioners. But I don’t expect that the city will be spending much to make the trip happen. Lately, such trips to sister cities — our other two are Eutin, Germany, and Hiratsuka, Japan — have involved individuals paying their own way or doing fundraising to cover their expenses. The trips usually just involve air fare because the delegation stays with host families in the sister cities, and meals are usually provided by the hosts.
People interested in finding out more about the possible trip, can contact a member of the Sister Cities Advisory Board.
• One quick note about one of Lawrence’s longtime executives. The former top executive for Lawrence-based Charlton Manley Insurance, Gary Sollars, has retired. Sollars was the CEO when Charlton Manley sold to HRH in 2007, and now the company is part of the Willis group of insurance companies. The company also has closed its Lawrence office and consolidated its workforce into a Johnson County facility.
Sollars, 62, retired at the end of the year, after having served 40 years in the insurance business. Sollars said he plans to remain in Lawrence.