Archive for Friday, January 13, 2012

Town Talk: This and that about Old Navy, Sears; restaurant site being converted to insurance offices; a $7 million question for the city and the county; potbellied pigs in waiting

January 13, 2012


News and notes from around town:

• Thursday afternoon, I was in a room with commercial real estate agents, architects, retailers, a host of developer types — and an open bar. So yeah, I heard a few tidbits Thursday. One of the items creating buzz at the commercial real estate event hosted by Colliers International was the future of the Sears building on South Iowa Street. The most interesting comment I heard came from Allison Vance Moore, who is a broker in Lawrence’s Colliers office, and she does a lot of work in the retail sector.

“I think we’ll see some possible repositioning of players,” Moore said. “Not necessarily new faces, but repositioning of the current tenant mix.”

I couldn’t get Moore to say whether that means we should look for Old Navy to go into that spot. It seems that could be one possibility, though. If that happens, surely there will be room for a couple of other tenants. The Sears building is about 85,000 square feet. Old Navy’s current location is about 20,000 square feet. I still got the strong impression that Ross — a chain of discount department stores — is likely to take the Old Navy spot. If Old Navy moves over to Sears, that likely would be viewed as a net gain for the city. Lawrence gets a new retailer in Ross; Old Navy takes over a space that was underperforming; and there likely would still be room for a couple of other retailers to move in next to Old Navy.

If Moore is talking about someone other than Old Navy, well, that will be interesting to watch. That would create a vacancy somewhere else in Lawrence, and the domino game would begin anew.

I also heard the name Dick’s Sporting Goods mentioned in Lawrence. The city had a Dick’s years ago at 23rd and Iowa where Hastings is currently located. Looking around on the Internet, it appears most Dick’s Sporting Goods Stores are around 40,000 to 50,000 square feet.

I also occasionally hear something about a hardware-type of use at the building. I’m not sure what that would mean, but there is a consensus that the building is way too small for a Menards home improvement center. In fact, I hear differing reports about Menards. Some say the company has some interest. Others say that’s overblown.

The thing I left surest about (other than open bars are a fantastic interviewing technique) is that there is a lot of interest in the Sears building from somebody or perhaps multiple somebodies. It seems unlikely that the building is going to sit empty for an extended period of time.

• Construction work appears to be underway on the former Stone Creek Restaurant site at 3801 W. Sixth St. But if you’re hoping for some new swank restaurant to move into the space, put your bib away. (A bib is a sign of a swank spot, isn’t it?) Instead, all signs are pointing to the 4,200-square-foot building becoming an insurance office. As we previously reported, a group led by Travis Oliver, president of Douglas County Insurance and Financial Services, has purchased the building. The company currently has its offices at 2706 S. Iowa St.

• Perhaps the city and the county right now are wishing they had insurance to replace out-dated technology. The city is spending more than $1 million in 2012 to replace radios for their public works, fire and police fleets. The radios are becoming obsolete because of new federal regulations regarding the use of radio spectrum. Well, the radio fun is just beginning.

It now appears that the city and county’s Emergency Communications Center — the place that answers the phone when you call 911 — has about $7 million worth of equipment upgrades that need to be made in the next couple of years to meet new federal technology standards.

County Administrator Craig Weinaug has sent a letter to the city asking it to consider providing $4.62 million to the project. The city and the county jointly operate the dispatch center. An agreement calls for the city to pay 66 percent of the operating costs and the county to pay 34 percent of the operating costs. But the agreement doesn’t spell out how the costs of large capital projects — such as this technology upgrade — should be split.

Weinaug said because of the amount of time it will take to plan this upgrade, the city and the county need to reach an agreement on how to fund it within the “next few months.”

Keep an eye on this issue. How costs are shared between the city and the county on several joint operations has been a point of contention with some in Lawrence City Hall for a number of years. It will be interesting to see if this project brings the issue to a head.

Regardless, it will be a ticklish financial situation. The general rule of thumb is that the city can issue about $5 million in new debt in a year without having to increase the city’s property tax rate. If one project takes up $4.6 million of it, that will create a squeeze.

• I’ve already written about this a couple of weeks ago, but potbellied pigs will be making an appearance at Lawrence City Hall on Tuesday. Commissioners will consider changing the animal code to allow the pets, after a local resident discovered that his beloved potbellied pig was not actually legal in the Lawrence city limits. Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday. It ought to be fun. All we’ll be missing is an open bar.


mae 2 years, 3 months ago

Post a joke thread instead of hijacking a news story.

I would like to see a bass pro or cabelas in the old liz claiborne place in north lawrence. Let them rebuild that section to attract Perry and Tongie people and keep all the yuppy k-10/south lawrence people away. put a dicks over there where they belong sure, but let the boaters and hunters shop where they want, which is not in town traffic for a lure or ammo really quick.


HomeSlice 2 years, 3 months ago

A salesman is lost in a rural area and stops at a farm to get directions. As he is talking to the farmer he notices a pig with a wooden leg. "How did the pig get a wooden leg?", he asks the farmer.

"Well", says the farmer, "that is a very special pig. One night not too long ago we had a fire start in the barn.

"Well, sir, that pig set up a great squealing that woke everyone, and by the time we got there he had herded all the other animals out of the barn and saved everyone of them."

"And that was when he hurt his leg?" asked the salesman.

"Oh no" says the farmer. "He was fine after that. Though a while later I was in the woods out back and a bear attacked me. Well, sir, that pig was near by and he came running and set on that bear and chased him off. Saved me for sure."

"So the bear injured his leg then," says the salesman.

"Oh no. He came away without a scratch from that. Though a few days later my tractor turned over in a ditch and I was knocked unconscious. Well, that pig dove into the ditch and pulled me out before I drowned."

"So he hurt his leg then?" asks the salesman.

"Oh no," says the farmer.

"So how did he get the wooden leg?" the salesman asks.

"Well", the farmer tells him, "When you have a pig like that, you don't want to eat him all at once."


Benjamin Roberts 2 years, 3 months ago

I had a friend a few years back that had a pot-bellied pig for a pet. It seemed to be a good pet. One day my friend ended up in big trouble with his wife for giving leftover scraps to the pig. She didn't think it right to feed a pig leftover ham sandwiches.


Mike Edson 2 years, 3 months ago

Any word on if Lawrence will get a Chick-fil-A other than the one at the KU Union?


sunny 2 years, 3 months ago

Where does the City of Lawrence get their money and continue to get their money! Fed regulations are killing my checking account. I thought Obomby wasn't going to raise taxes!


Richard Heckler 2 years, 3 months ago

These insurance business people sure seem to have a lot of money. Where in the world do they get it?


blue73harley 2 years, 3 months ago

I remember Rusty's. I bought a six gun there.

I, too, think Larryville has been Dick-less for too long.


biggunz 2 years, 3 months ago

Dicks would be great. Where can you go in this town for hunting supplies? Boating supplies? Anything related to sports? It's pretty weak pickings for any sporting equipment. Surely a college town the size of Lawrence could support it. I shop there a lot because there is no selection in Lawrence or it's way overpriced.


consumer1 2 years, 3 months ago

The thing I left surest about (other than open bars are a fantastic interviewing technique) is that there is a lot of interest in the Sears building from somebody or perhaps multiple somebodies. It seems unlikely that the building is going to sit empty for an extended period of time.

I would have believed (if I really listened to those who are opponents of big box) that a big box store was a curse on humanity. It would sit there idle never to be utilized again and become an eye sore to the community.


bearded_gnome 2 years, 3 months ago

Chad, the upgrade for county/city law enforcement commo besides spectrum, upgrade also mandates the form of modulation so to spea.

right now the trunked system (radio) is analog with digital coding for frequency sharing identification, etc.

the next step must be total digital. that is the voice transmissions will all be in 1's and 0's.

all of us with scanners will need new ones, or at least a board plugged into like the IF to decode the digital communications.
this will happen in new spectrum released I think because TV went to hd/digital. so they'll move off of the current 800MHz.


Matthew Herbert 2 years, 3 months ago

I have very fond memories of Rusty's Outdoor Sports. I remember as a kid going into the Rusty's Outdoor Sports building to view their pictures of massive catfish caught in the Kansas River, some of which standing up were taller than the fishermen who had caught them. Getting a Dick's Sporting Goods in Lawrence would be nice for those who enjoy disc golf. We have two disc courses in town and as far as I have found, nowhere to buy the necessary equipment! I know that Dick's carries a decent line of disc golf accessories.


d_prowess 2 years, 3 months ago

A Dick's Sporting Goods store would be great. I am just not sure this community would be big enough to support them since there is already a store in Olathe and another in Topeka.


guppypunkhead 2 years, 3 months ago

Oh, man, getting a ROSS would be awesome!


eathorse5 2 years, 3 months ago

Rusty's sporting goods.....

Dicks Sporting goods would be awesome, wont happen though cause they sell guns and ammo.. lol


Andini 2 years, 3 months ago

It wasn't Dicks. It was....the name escapes me..


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