News and notes from around town:
• UPDATE: The city of Lawrence has set a date for another public meeting to discuss the idea of a regional recreation complex in northwest Lawrence. City officials will answer questions from the public at an event from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on July 23. The event will be held at the Free State high school auditorium, 4700 Overland Drive.
This will be the second public meeting the city has hosted on the topic. But city spokeswoman Megan Gilliland tells me city officials will have more details about operational aspects of the facility. That may include more detail about how the city of Lawrence and Kansas University both feasibly will be able to use the facility.
If you remember, the concept plan calls for a large indoor recreation center/fieldhouse with multiple gyms, an indoor walking track, fitness areas, and several other large spaces. The concept also includes plans for an outdoor track and field stadium and a competition-grade soccer field. The track and field and soccer components largely would be designed to meet KU's needs, while the recreation center/fieldhouse would be a city project. But people have been curious what potential there is for crossover use between the two entities. The complex would be located on the northwest corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway.
I think people also have been curious about how much it may cost the city to run this facility. Based on the latest numbers I have seen out of City Hall, city officials believe the city likely would have to subsidize the operational cost of the recreation center/fieldhouse by about $300,000 a year. Total operation costs likely would be higher than that, but the city is counting on the facility generating revenue from tournaments, concession sales, classes and other activities. I believe city officials expect there will be enough room in the already-approved countywide one-cent sales tax to cover those operational expenses.
We'll also see what details are available about the larger development that will surround the recreation center. The city has on its Web site this concept plan that shows the layout of the recreation complex. But the plan also shows the surrounding property that is located on the northwest corner of the intersection. All that property would be zoned for commercial use under the current proposal. The plan shows that there would be about nine to 10 lots for additional commercial development, with one of the lots being much larger than all the others.
• There are more signs that the health care market in Lawrence is holding up well. Neuvant House, a West Lawrence health care facility that specializes in treating people with Alzheimer’s and dementia, has filed plans at City Hall for a significant expansion.
The company is seeking to build a nearly 15,000-square-foot expansion onto its existing building at 1216 Biltmore Drive. The expansion would more than double the size of the current facility.
Plans call for 14 private apartments to be added to the complex. Some of the apartments would be equipped to handle both a patient and a spouse of a patient. Matt Stephens, administrator for Neuvant House, said the expansion also will allow Neuvant to expand upon its end-of-life care services.
Stephens said the company hopes to break ground in the next two months, and then open 10 to 12 months later. Currently, the project is being reviewed for approval by city planners.
The project comes at about the same time another Alzheimer’s care unit has been proposed for West Lawrence. As we reported in June, city commissioners approved a 5,000-square-foot Alzheimer’s unit for property on the west side of Research Park Drive between Bob Billings Parkway and 18th Street. Of note on that project is that Diane Ensminger, the CEO of the Ballard Center is opening that facility as a private project. She’ll continue on as Ballard Center director.
Neuvant House’s expansion comes about two years after the company first located in Lawrence. Stephens said Lawrence is an attractive place for the Baby Boomer generation to live, and as a result, memory care services likely will be in higher demand in the future.
“I think as the Baby Boomers age, we’re going to see more need for this type of care,” Stephens said.
• What I can always use more of is a flea market. If nothing else, a good flea market aggravates my wife. While I give her a hard time about her trips to department stores, jewelry stores, shoe stores, purse stores, beauty supply stores … well, we really don’t have time to go through this whole list. Anyway, while I give her a hard time about that type of shopping, she gives me a hard time about my affinity for buying other people’s used treasure. (That’s not exactly the phrase she uses.)
Well, it looks like fans of the genre soon will have another Lawrence option. Lawrence resident Angela Longhurst has filed plans with City Hall to have a monthly flea market in East Lawrence.
Currently, the flea markets are planned for the first Saturday of each month on the vacant lot at East Eighth and Pennsylvania streets. The lot is owned by Tony Krsnich, the fellow who has successfully renovated the nearby Poehler Grocery Warehouse Building into an affordable apartment complex.
Krsnich would like for the vacant lot to become a bit of a hub of activity for the East Lawrence neighborhood. He has discussed having concerts on the property, and also has contemplated open air art events and other types of uses.
As for the flea market, the next one is scheduled for Aug. 4, with future dates set for Sept. 1, Oct. 6 and Nov. 3. It looks like the market is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. As for the type of vendors on site, I’m not sure. But if any of you have attended the flea market that was being held on the first Saturday of the month at the TeePee Junction, I believe Longhurst was involved with that event.
All I know is that her Web site indicates she likes flea market food, which I have been known to partake in. (It usually leaves me looking for a used defibrillator. I suppose my wife would complain about that purchase, too.)
• Speaking of the renovated Poehler building, mark your calendars for July 27, if you are interested in seeing firsthand how that project turned out.
Krsnich and his crew are hosting a grand opening and ribbon cutting from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Poehler Lofts, 619 E. Eighth St. The event will include some light food and music. After the ribbon cutting, there will be several artists who will have work on display and for sale as part of the Final Fridays celebration that takes place the last Friday of each month in downtown Lawrence.
The arts are a major part of Krsnich’s plan for rejuvenating the area near Eighth and Pennsylvania streets. In fact, he has recently come up with a new name for the area: The Warehouse Arts District. My understanding is some artists already have moved into a former T-shirt warehouse in the area, and more are on the way. Krsnich also has started work to rehabilitate the old Ciderworks building near Eighth and Pennsylvania into an and indoor/outdoor arts gallery and event space.
But go to the open house, and you can see for yourself.
• Perhaps I have been too engrossed in flea markets. But for whatever reason, I have not published our weekly land transfers for a couple of weeks, and I’ve heard about it from some of you. Well, click here for a couple of weeks worth of land transfers as recorded by the Douglas County Register of Deeds.