Archive for Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Town Talk: Heavy metal rocker Slash to produce horror flick based on Stull cemetery; American Eagle closes downtown store; planners to consider 31st and Iowa student housing, N. Lawrence plans tonight

January 25, 2012


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News and notes from around town:

• When you think of the tiny rural Douglas County community of Stull, I’m sure the first thing you think of is Slash, the former lead guitarist for the heavy metal band Guns N’ Roses. Right? No, the first thing most people think of — much to the chagrin of some Stull residents — is the Stull cemetery and the urban legend that it is one of the Gateways to Hell.

Well, enter Slash into the equation. The rocker has heard of the Stull legend as well, and has decided it would make the perfect setting for his debut as a movie producer. That’s right, watch out Spielberg. Slash is becoming a movie mogul. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Slash’s new horror-film production company — Slasher Films — has inked a deal with Anchor Bay Films to produce a movie with a plot that centers on the Stull cemetery and its dance with the Devil.

But hold on metal heads, before you get out the Charles Manson T-shirts and the case of Natural Light, the movie won’t be shot in Stull. According to the Reporter, it sounds like shooting will take place in Louisiana, beginning next month.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see if the movie — which is titled "Nothing to Fear" — ends up giving a big-time boost to the Stull legend. Anchor Bay is a major movie distributor, and Slash is a heavy-metal icon. (I’ll get out my cassette tape collection and cruise up and down Mass. Street with my windows rolled down, if you need proof.) This is the sort of thing that has cult-classic written all over it.

If so, that won’t please several residents of Stull. Whenever I’ve even mentioned the Stull legend in previous articles, I’ve gotten phone calls that could qualify as a horror movie. To many Stull residents, the idea of their cemetery being a gateway to Hell is disrespectful to the people who are buried there. In the past, Stull residents have gotten somewhat aggressive in trying to stop folks from trying to enter the cemetery, and in 2002 the old church that was the center of much Halloween curiosity was mysteriously demolished.

Somehow, I don’t think Slash is going to be too concerned about any of that.

“It is guaranteed to scare the hell out of you,” Slash told The Reporter.

And if that doesn’t do it, my cassette tape collection surely will.

• Speaking of the apocalypse, some Lawrence shoppers may feel like it is underway. We first reported in late December that there was strong speculation that American Eagle Outfitters would close its Downtown Lawrence store. Well, that has come to be. The store closed late last week, I believe, without any fanfare. The windows of the store are now covered with butcher paper. The company never did respond to any of my calls seeking comment on the closing. You’ll have to let your imagination run wild as to why an American Eagle in a major college community apparently doesn’t work. No word yet on whether the location at 619 Mass. has any hot prospects for a new tenant. But I’ll check.

As we also previously have reported, the last scheduled day for Old Navy to remain open on South Iowa Street is tomorrow, Jan. 26. There’s still speculation that Old Navy might have some interested in another Lawrence location — perhaps part of the soon-to-be-vacant Sears building — since it is believed that Old Navy is leaving over a lease dispute, not a sales problem. No word, though, whether American Eagle has any interest in staying in town.

• The retail scene isn’t the only thing changing in South Lawrence. The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission tonight will discuss several plans related to a large student housing community planned for the Gaslight Village Mobile Home Park just east of 31st and Iowa.

As we reported in November, plans have been filed by an Austin-based company to build 352 units of student apartments — a total of about 1,000 bedrooms — on the site of the mobile home park. Unlike a traditional apartment complex, Aspen Heights is proposing a development that will feature house-like structures spread out across the property, instead of large apartment buildings. The company envisions: 62 four-bedroom “cottages”; 62 two-bedroom duplexes; and 62 three-bedroom duplexes. The plans also include a deck and pool area, a clubhouse and sports courts.

The project, which would be spread over about 35 acres, needs new zoning and the approval of several design plans. Planning commissioners meet at 6:30 p.m. today at City Hall. Ultimately, the plans will need final approval from city commissioners before the multimillion-dollar project can proceed.

• Also up for discussion at tonight’s planning commission meeting is the idea of redeveloping the area around Johnny’s Tavern in North Lawrence. As we reported in November, plans are starting to be filed to build a major new commercial area along the Kansas River levee in North Lawrence. This one is still in its early stages. Planning commissioners tonight will consider a request to formally make the area part of Downtown Lawrence for planning purposes. That will make the area subject to less strict parking regulations than it currently is, and also allow it to house downtown-like buildings. But the developers — which includes longtime Johnny’s owner Rick Renfro — have submitted some “concept plans.” They include an 1,800-foot boardwalk that runs along the top of the levee. The boardwalk would be connected to shops, restaurants, and — they hope — a hotel. The idea is still speculative at this point, because major tenants haven’t been signed up for the project. But certainly it will be one of the more interesting retail projects to watch in coming months.


David Holroyd 6 years, 2 months ago

If one truly believes that Lawrence could attract retirees, why not use the area east of Home Depot for a retirement community? It is near a post office, it is near grocery shopping aka Walmart, it is near storage units, it is big enough to have space for the "retirees" motor homes, it is near restaurants, banks , more shopping at Target and the Pine Ridge Plaza, aka old Kmart area.

Lawrence never ceases to amaze me when it comes to Planning and Development. or should one say, the lack of it.


Bud Stagg 6 years, 2 months ago

The secret to planning is that you have to have someone willing to build it. You can say it would be a great retirement area, but if someone with money doesn't want to build it there, it will sit vacant. In most cases, it's not the planning departments job to say exactly what will go where, it's their job to say, given an opportunity, does it fit?

countrygirl 6 years, 2 months ago

Can you try to find out why our local hobby store is closed?

Bob Forer 6 years, 2 months ago

If you are referring to George's, if i had to venture an educated guess, I would surmise he closed because of the horrible economy. Last time I was in there around two years ago the owner told me he was hanging on, but barely. In a down economy, stores like George's are among the first to close. Am suprised he was able to hang on for so long.

The rich have never had it better. The rest of us have never had it worse.

Armored_One 6 years, 2 months ago

George's Hobby Shop was recently bought by a Lawrence native. I went in and asked about it they other day and that was what I was told by the new owner, at least.

countrygirl 6 years, 2 months ago

Roger has been buying the store from George a little a time for the past several years and finally had it bought outright just before Christmas. But George still owns the building. Something a bit funny is up because Roger was just starting to re-stock and now the place is shut up.

StirrrThePot 6 years, 2 months ago

I'm sure it doesn't help that the national boy scout office told a bunch of stores nationwide that they're pulling all their scouting gear, removing the stores' status as an official retailer.

countrygirl 6 years, 1 month ago

That happened a couple of years ago. All scout supplies like books and merit badges are sold only through official scout stores like the one in Topeka.

pace 6 years, 2 months ago

About time someone realized the potential of the North Lawrence site. It sounds intelligent, and if it happens, would be a righteous flower in our downtown.

MarcoPogo 6 years, 2 months ago

Oh no, we sure wouldn't want the residents of Stull to rise up and cause some real trouble. Pitchforks and torches abound!

April Fleming 6 years, 2 months ago

Would love love more development in North Lawrence. So much potential with the levee trail, etc.

flyin_squirrel 6 years, 2 months ago

Should be a great compliment to downtown Lawrence! More shops and people around downtown will only enhance our downtown experience!

Rae Hudspeth 6 years, 2 months ago

62 four-bedroom “cottages

Isn't that going to require a bit of review of the current code regarding more than three unrelated occupants?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 2 months ago

About the mention of the church in Stull: "in 2002 the old church that was the center of much Halloween curiosity was mysteriously demolished."

It happened in broad daylight, and the event was well covered in the Lawrence Journal-World at the time. The newspaper coverage included an interview with the owner of the cemetery, and I believe also the man that operated the bulldozer that knocked it down.

It didn't sound mysterious at all to me.

But it was very unfortunate, as I read some time ago that it was the last church still standing in Kansas that had been served by a parson that traveled on horseback from church to church for services. If it would have been restored instead of demolished, it would have been eligible to be on the National Register of Historic Places for sure.

Brian Hall 6 years, 2 months ago

Yeah. I remember reading in the LJWorld that it was a partner in the company that owned the land the church sat on. I can't find the article but it was just a short follow-up article to this one:

The church probably would have been eligible for the NRHP had the owners or the community attempted to save it before the 1990s. They may have also been able to rid the area of the Satanic rumors if the church wasn't just an abandoned shell.

pace 6 years, 2 months ago

The church as on property adjacent to the cementary. Over the years people begged to buy it, many offered to restore it. The owners refused the restoration and said they would not sell the church separate from their entire holdings.

d_prowess 6 years, 2 months ago

To make the area North of the river really "part" of downtown I think they need to add some type of walking bridge that connects the two sides. As it is now, the sidewalk on the bridge seems pretty narrow and I just don't think it lends itself to the idea of easily connecting to shopping areas.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 2 months ago

Just what Lawrence needs is 1,000more bedrooms to accompany the large number of homes sitting in foreclosure that the banks are sitting on.

It seems to me with so many bedrooms in Lawrence,Kansas seekers should open up the market using negotiations. Yes negotiate down on the rent. There are thousands of choices in Lawrence why pay the asking price. There is always KCMO metro which is loaded with culture, attractive rental rates and very attractive buying rates.

Foreclosed residential is everywhere so why pay more?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 2 months ago

"the large number of homes sitting in foreclosure that the banks are sitting on."

Banks do not just sit on homes in foreclosure, that is a common misconception. As soon as it is possible to sell them legally and also obtain a reasonable price for them, the banks are going to sell them. Go talk to any banker or person who works in the real estate field for verification of that.

But it is very easy to get the impression that they are just sitting on them, because there are a series of legal steps that need to be done before a bank can sell a foreclosed property. Those steps take time, and there are also waiting periods involved. And it usually also takes time for a piece of real estate to be sold after it is legally possible to do so, because very few properties are sold overnight. There are some exceptions, and of course an auction on the courthouse steps is almost always instant. I have to say "almost" because in many cases, there are no bidders that are willing to pay the minimum bid for the property.

For an example of the waiting periods involved: I personally know a family that simply quit making their mortgage payments. They continued to live in the home, and it was literally 10 months before they were evicted. And then, the bank could begin the legal process that is required in order to sell the property.

It ended up that the bank was not able to sell the home for a whole year after they had quit making the mortgage payments.

We are in a capitalistic economy, more or less, and the banks have absolutely no interest in paying property taxes, maintenance , and possibly also insurance in a calculated move to prop up real estate values.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 2 months ago

But this is true: A bank will not sell a property for less than what it is expected to sell for within the next 2 to 3 months.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 2 months ago

American Eagle gone.

So is GAP the only remaining of original group that opened up in that section? Bring the brother to GAP aka Old Navy or Banana Republic. Then again maybe not Banana Republic as Lawrence consumers do not support the more expensive line of goods.

Old Navy it is....

Eugehne Normandin 6 years, 2 months ago

I believe there is ample walking already on the bridge. Everytime talk about this development comes up someone remarks about the lack of a safe way to walk across the river. Watch out for the trolls if you walk across the bridge.

Eugehne Normandin 6 years, 2 months ago

I believe there is ample walking already on the bridge. Everytime talk about this development comes up someone remarks about the lack of a safe way to walk across the river. Watch out for the trolls if you walk across the bridge.

Lawrence Morgan 6 years, 2 months ago

I'm sorry, but no one is going to walk across that bridge. The idea of redeveloping the area around Johnny's Tavern is ridiculous. And can you imagine parking on that side in rain or bad weather? If it goes through, I hope no city money is involved and it will probably end up the same way as the other mall further down towards the I-70, virtually empty.

The church is a real shame. It was a beautiful church.

Oneeye_wilbur is right on - it is ideal for a retirement community. It is no place to build hundreds more of apartments!

d_prowess 6 years, 1 month ago

To add some context, It is 0.4 miles from Waxmans to Johnny's. Definitely not far, since people walk much farther than that as they stroll along Mass St. (which is 0.6 miles from 6th to 11th).
However, there is nothing between Waxmans and Johnny's, which I think wouldn't make for an appealing walk to most people downtown, even if they destination had something to offer.

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