Archive for Monday, July 16, 2012

Town Talk: Signs point to August opening for Mass. St. Dillons; Zarco becomes first in country to sell new E15 ethanol gasoline; city delegation headed to Greece

July 16, 2012


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News and notes from around town:

• Jayhawks, not turkeys, seem to be on the minds of the folks cracking the whip to get construction of the new Dillons completed.

I once had heard the new store near 17th and Massachusetts wanted to be open in time to serve holiday shoppers. Now, it appears the store will open well before then. Word on the street is that Dillons hopes to be open by mid-August so the store can serve the needs of students who are getting settled back in at KU.

I haven’t received any official word from Dillons yet, but there are signs that an opening is getting near. Driving by the new building, it appears installation of shelving is well underway. Also, the company has begun running advertisements in the Journal-World seeking clerks for the new store.

I’ll be interested to see the public’s reaction to the store once it opens. It no doubt will impress many people with the new amenities that the old store on the site simply didn’t have. Those include a Starbuck’s, a drive-through pharmacy, a larger organic food section, and a larger deli/hot food area.

But I’m particularly interested in how folks respond to the design of the building. You could make a case that this Dillons is one of the more “New Urbanism-type” of projects we have in Lawrence. That New Urbanism phrase was being thrown around frequently by politicians and developers several years ago, but we really haven’t seen much of it in Lawrence in terms of new commercial development.

This Dillons store, though, has a few elements of New Urbanism. One, New Urbanism is often dense. (Perhaps my wife thinks I’m the epitome of New Urbanism. She uses that word a lot in describing me.) Anyway, the Dillons store is pretty dense. The new store is a significantly larger building than you normally would see on a lot of that size in Lawrence. The project got variances from the city to build very close to Massachusetts Street on the west and New Hampshire Street on the east. Despite several articles alerting folks to the design, I still hear from quite a few people who are surprised at how close the store is to the street. But that seems to be a hallmark of New Urbanism, and it certainly will be one thing that will change the feel of several streets in Lawrence if the trend ever takes off.

New Urbanism often involves de-emphasizing the importance of automobiles. This project does that in a way by using a parking lot that is smaller than what normally would be required in Lawrence for a store of this size. Finding a place to park at the old Dillons was never really a problem, so it will be interesting to see if the smaller lot causes any problems. The company received a variance to make the parking lot about 20 parking spaces smaller than city code required. That equates to about 14 percent smaller than what the city normally would have required. If it doesn’t seem to cause a problem for shoppers, I wonder whether other new developments in town will try to have their parking requirements shrunk.

Finally, New Urbanism often means making projects more pedestrian-friendly and bike-friendly. My understanding is the new development will do that. It will have larger than normal areas for bike parking, and will have a greatly improved walkway between the store and the adjacent Babcock Place apartments. I’m sure people will like those elements. Sometimes I wonder whether when people say they like New Urbanism, they really mean they like more pedestrian and bike-friendly developments because it seems like the idea of densely developed projects around town still draws opposition from many neighbors.

• What few people would object to, I believe, is spending less money at the gasoline pump. Well, it looks like an interesting national experiment in that area will begin in Lawrence.

The Zarco 66 station at 1500 E. 23rd St. in Lawrence last week became the first station in the country to begin selling a new category of gasoline. It is called E15, which means it contains 15 percent ethanol. Previously, I believe, the most ethanol you could have in gasoline and still use it in conventional engines was 10 percent.

But in June, the EPA gave approval for the E15 gasoline to be used in all light duty vehicles since 2001. That means about two-thirds of all light-duty vehicles on the road can safely use the new gasoline.

Based on current market trends, it looks like the E15 gasoline will sell for a few pennies less than the E10 and traditional gasoline. I’ll drive by this morning and give you an up-to-date price comparison soon.

What I don’t know is what type of gas mileage you get with the new E15. When you start replacing petroleum with ethanol it generally changes the amount of energy a gallon of gasoline will produce. So, although something may be cheaper per gallon, if the gallon doesn’t last as long, there is some math to do there in determining your best value.

Ethanol fans, though, argue there is much more than just price considerations to factor in with the ethanol movement. They argue increased use of ethanol will make the country less reliant on foreign oil, and make the economy less susceptible to the vagaries of the international oil market, which seems to be less tied to supply and demand than ever before.

The Lawrence-based Zarco chain of convenience stores has special blender-pumps that allows traditional gasoline and ethanol to be blended together right at the station.

I believe Zarco will be holding a formal ceremony on Wednesday to kick off the E15 revolution, so I’ll report back if new details emerge.

• Speaking of revolutions, I know where a group of Lawrence residents hope the next revolution won’t occur — Greece.

A delegation of about one dozen Lawrence residents later this month will be making the first official visit to Lawrence’s newest sister city, Iniades, Greece.

The Lawrence group is scheduled to leave on July 25 and return during the first week of August. The Lawrence delegation will be in Iniades at the same time a KU theater group will be performing in the city. The KU theater department since the mid-1980s has had a relationship with a theater group in Iniades, which includes an annual summer performance in a classical Greek theater setting.

Mayor Bob Schumm and City Commissioner Mike Dever both will be making the trip, along with about 10 private citizens who either have a connection to Iniades or are active members of Lawrence’s Sister Cities Advisory Committee.

Schumm said city funds won’t be used on the trip. Members of the delegation cover their own costs, or else conduct private fundraising to cover the costs.

Iniades became a sister city in 2009, when a delegation from the Greek community of about 10,000 people traveled to Lawrence. It is one of Lawrence’s three sister cities. I’ll offer a full refund on the price of today’s Town Talk, if you post the name of the other two. (Either I’m trying to engage my readers, or else I just don’t want to look up how to spell our Japanese sister city.)


g_rock 5 years, 7 months ago

Can someone bring me back a case of Mythos from Greece? Thanks.

And I may or may not have overheard someone looking for an apartment/house near the "new" Dillons to move into in August because they will be working there.

Cody Ochs 5 years, 7 months ago

Could swear I saw Mythos somewhere locally...

Keith 5 years, 7 months ago

Given the drought stricken corn crop this year, how much longer will ethanol be cheaper than gasoline?

Hooligan_016 5 years, 7 months ago

People may be surprised how close the new Dillon's is to the street, but that building (and lot design) is 1000x better than the old store.

Loved being able to walk there, but hated having to navigate the parking lot and avoiding cars just to get to the front door.

COjayrocks 5 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for the pics! Beggars can't be choosers, but do you have anything of the exterior??

kuhusker 5 years, 7 months ago

Chad, as long as you are near the new Dillons, can you find out what is going in at the former Bambinos location? There's a sign up there advertising what looks to be a new bar/restaurant "coming soon"

Brandon Weber 5 years, 7 months ago

Can't wait for new Dillon's. Tired of driving all over town to get groceries.

Jean Robart 5 years, 7 months ago

Just drive to one of the stores that's cheaper than Dillon's. It isn't hard--most everybody is cheaper than Dillon's.

CHEEZIT 5 years, 7 months ago

What's the over/under on how soon somebody crashes into the side of the buildng! Parking lot seems small for the size of building! Just Saying!!!

guesswho 5 years, 7 months ago

I'm not sure how ethanol fans can say it reduces the dependence on foreign oil as it takes plenty of oil (and subsidies by our government) to plant/fertilize/harvest the corn.

somedude20 5 years, 7 months ago

I heard the new Dillons was going to have a shark tank filled with live sharks and once a month they would feed people who bounced checks to the sharks

somedude20 5 years, 7 months ago

Oh yes, mostly older people who still write checks for $7.59 and it takes the better part of 6 minutes for them to do so

kujhawkfan 5 years, 7 months ago

Zarco just lost all my business. More ethanol means worst gas mileage and most engine manufacturers state not to use more than 10%, regardless of what the EPA states as being safe.

pace 5 years, 7 months ago

If ethanol was made with waste material instead of a food crop, I would be more comfortable with it. Ethanol and corn fed beef drives up the cost of the staple grain. It has caused great suffering in many third world populations. I drive a lot less than I use to, more efficiently too.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 7 months ago

And after you fill up your tank, don't forget to book a room for the night at the Virginia Inn, located just across the street! Their rooms come with a bed, some chairs, and probably some terrible knockoffs of Thomas Kinkade/Bob Ross art donning the walls. They used to have a decent swimming pool but those days are over. (These rooms are 100% ethanol free and 93-96% gasoline free - you never know.)

he_who_knows_all 5 years, 7 months ago

And you can also drive to any other self serve station in town to save money too.

Westside is also the dirtiest station in town with the oldest pumps.

Jonathan Fox 5 years, 7 months ago

Westside is not the dirtiest in town. And I'm saving money by buying gas there because my gas mileage from zero ethanol gas is way better than with ethanol far outweighing the few cents more a gallon at the pump.

Jonathan Fox 5 years, 7 months ago

I always get my gas there. Cars that are not flex fuel should not be getting gas with ANY ethanol in them because it is corrosive and will eventually lead to 1000s of dollars in repairs.

Let alone the fact that the higher gas mileage attained from ZERO ETHANOL gasoline is already worth the few cents more per gallon compared to any amount of ethanol.

Tristan Moody 5 years, 7 months ago

The problem with ethanol is that gallon for gallon, it has about 25% less energy than gasoline. Unless the price spread is about 2.5% for e10, 3.75% for e15 or 22% for e85, you would be getting less for your money.

kernal 5 years, 7 months ago

It's new, therefore it's no longer Dirty Dillons. Give it thirty to forty years.

LloydDobbler 5 years, 7 months ago

Schumm and Dever to get advice from the Greeks on economic policy.

StirrrThePot 5 years, 7 months ago

Glad to hear about Dillons. As that store is on the way to/from school, I like to stop there and pick up stuff for meals or other items I might need en route Looking forward to having it back!

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 7 months ago

Ethanol gas is a scam. E85 gas costs only 10% less than unleaded but cuts down your mileage by 25-40% depending on vehicle size. I recently bought a truck that takes E85 as well as unleaded. With unleaded I get 20 mpg; with E85 I'm lucky to get 13 mpg. All of this + the skyrocketing effect on produce = we're getting screwed by greenies.

LadyJ 5 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, my vehicle takes both. I kept careful records for several tanks of gas of each. This was when the E85 was fifty cents cheaper than regular gas. It ended up costing me the same in the end so I just go with regular gas and use my gas point discounts from Dillons. Sometimes I get a dollar off a gallon.

independent_rebel 5 years, 7 months ago

Based on the clientele, the 23rd St Dillons is the current Dirty Dillons.

Shane Powers 5 years, 7 months ago

@Mikekt, do you also hate sour cream so much you'd yell about it, reuse a coffee cup from the gas station you like at other stations and inform everyone in the gas station of that and explain why you chose that cup ONLY AFTER having given an lengthy sermon not unlike you ethanol gas post above? Maybe.

howie1 5 years, 7 months ago

I as well only buy my gas at westside 66... They are the best people in town... And also farmers dont use ethanol gas in gas powered farm equipment because of reduced power and it messes up the injectors and motors.. And they dont use it in the gas trucks either because of the same and fuel mileage... They do use the subsidaries for the ethanol lol

Brett Hansen 5 years, 7 months ago

Where did the LJWorld get the information that says Zarco is the first in the country to sell the E-15 gasoline?! I distinctly remember an gas station on NW Expressway in Oklahoma City selling it in April. But hey, if it's on the internet it must be true right?

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