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Archive for Wednesday, July 18, 2012

All in favor? New group making voice heard at City Hall

July 18, 2012

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Gary Rexroad, left, and Zak Bolick are co-chairmen of a new group, CadreLawrence, that hopes to get people more active at City Hall in voicing their support for growth and economic development projects.

Gary Rexroad, left, and Zak Bolick are co-chairmen of a new group, CadreLawrence, that hopes to get people more active at City Hall in voicing their support for growth and economic development projects.

Something interesting happened at Lawrence City Hall when commissioners at a meeting last month asked for public comment about a controversial proposal to build a multistory hotel and retail building at Ninth and New Hampshire streets.

Despite bitter opposition from the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association, more people stepped to the lectern to speak in favor of the project than against it.

Such a public show of support didn’t happen by accident. About a dozen Lawrence residents who believe Lawrence needs a more positive voice when it comes to growth and economic development have formed CadreLawrence. The group began to quietly reach out to members of the public before last month’s vote on the Ninth and New Hampshire project, and presented what group members believed were the community benefits of the hotel/retail proposal.

But Zak Bolick, one of the founders of the group, said the most important thing group members did is urge people to show up. They reminded folks that a City Commission lectern isn’t just for people who oppose a project.

“Several of us have been asking ourselves for a while what has happened to the part of the population that does not have a vested interest in a project but still thinks it is a good project for the community?” said Bolick, who is an assistant vice president for Douglas County Bank. “I know those people exist.”

For several years, it was common to hear some community leaders refer to that segment of the population as “the silent majority” because they often didn’t show up at meetings to express their support for projects, especially development or growth-related projects that produced vocal opposition from neighborhoods or other groups in the community.

The result, CadreLawrence members say, is that public meetings about growth and development projects often have taken on a more negative tone than actually exists in the broader community. They say that has led to businesses becoming wary of pursuing projects in Lawrence.

“We have kept hearing from people outside of this community that there is a pretty negative perception about how hard it is to do business here,” said Gary Rexroad, another founder of the group, who was a classmate of Bolick’s in the Leadership Lawrence program.

In March, Bolick and Rexroad, who is an area manager for the Microsoft Corp., came together and started formulating the idea of CadreLawrence. Today the organization has an 11-member board that meets monthly to stay abreast of current issues related to jobs, economic development and growth. Within the next few days, the group plans to ramp up its public outreach efforts. It is finalizing a Facebook page, a Twitter presence and a website at cadrelawrence.com.

Part of the outreach, Rexroad said, will involve educating community members about how the group works. There are no membership fees or requirements. The group also won’t endorse or donate to any political candidates. Unlike neighborhood associations, the League of Women Voters or the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, CadreLawrence won’t take official positions on any issues. Rexroad said the purpose of the organization isn’t to create a new group that can throw its weight behind a proposal or project.

“We just want to get people informed and active,” Rexroad said.

At the meeting regarding the Ninth and New Hampshire project, for example, none of the group members even mentioned CadreLawrence when they addressed the commission. Instead, they simply described themselves as Lawrence residents who didn’t have a vested interest in the project but believed it would be good for the community.

That’s what group leaders hope will happen more often.

“If we can get people to be more active, we think that ultimately will produce a more fair and balanced debate,” Bolick said.

Group leaders also are stressing the organization is independent of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, which often does speak on behalf of growth and economic development projects. Rexroad said CadreLawrence leaders understand the chamber’s involvement in an issue automatically can spark opposition from some residents.

CadreLawrence’s board includes both chamber and nonchamber members, but Rexroad said the group does not take any direction from the chamber. In addition to Bolick and Rexroad, CadreLawrence’s board includes area bankers Brian Iverson and Michelle Fales, architects Paul Werner and Andrew Pitts, former Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners Brad Finkeldei and Stanley Rasmussen, area food bank director Jeremy Farmer, and residents Alex Delaney and Tim Bateman.

Rexroad said he thinks the timing is right for the group to catch the attention of Lawrence residents.

“I might be a little naive, but I think the community is ready for this,” Rexroad said. “I think the people of Lawrence want to be positive. They are hungry to be positive.”

Comments

Lawrence Morgan 2 years, 2 months ago

"Being positive," is of course, "accepting your point of view."

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mysterion 2 years, 2 months ago

I don't believe that is what the article said.

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alex_delaney 2 years, 2 months ago

@kansasplains1, as part of the CadreLawrence board, I promise you we value the opinion of ALL Lawrence residents. Our group is about having the conversation, not building a concensus. All of our members are encouraged to voice their own opinion at City Commission meetings; so long as they're going to the City Commission mettings and are well informed, we feel we've done our job.

Please feel free to email me for more info about the group to have your voice heard! alex.j.delaney@gmail.com or (785) 393-6224

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

Apparently, the effects of extreme development on neighborhoods is not part of your "discussion."

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

"said Bolick, who is an assistant vice president for Douglas County Bank."

There is nothing new here-- it's just the same ole City Commission controlled by developers, bankers and others in the mindless growth industry.

"Group leaders also are stressing the organization is independent of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, "

But they have 100% crossover in membership, and exactly the same viewpoints-- a difference without a distinction.

Not that it really mattered who showed up at that meeting. The commission had already made up their minds well before the meeting.

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alex_delaney 2 years, 2 months ago

@just_another_bozo, Although we do have some bankers on our board, we also have attorneys, architects, and small business owners, like myself, as well as just lay-people who are interested in the growth of our community, not the agenda of the Chamber. As a Chamber member myself I can assure you that I don't always agree with or side with the Chamber on all issues, but I recognize that a strong community has diverse and important opinions from many sides, and all are important. Our group is about having a positive, open conversation about those differences instead of letting them divide us.

We are all living in Lawrence together, as ONE community. We are competing against the Topekas, KCKs, and Overland Parks for jobs and revenue on a daily basis, and some would say we are losing because we can't get along. I urge you to join our group, the conversation, and have your voice heard.

Please feel free to contact me via email at alex.j.delaney@gmail.com or (785) 393-6224 to discuss.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

"as well as just lay-people who are interested in the growth of our community,"

I'm not opposed to growth, if it's done in a way that's respectful of that which is already here (and this hotel project is anything but.) I fail to see anything good that can come out of an agenda of growth for growth's sake.

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alex_delaney 2 years, 2 months ago

I can understand your point of view here. I live accross the street from a few vacant lots and I realize that someday I may not like whatever gets built there, but it may be good for Lawrence on a whole even if it isn't for me. I don't disagree with Leslie or ELNA from a persective of a neighborhood, but after understanding the project more fully, I feel like it is good for Lawrence, and especially downtown.

Secondly, I don't feel like its growth for growth's sake. I think Lawrence is very reliant on one major employer, and that the tax burden has been put on the residents rather than commerce. I am part of CadreLawrence because I want more of a business tax base, not just so we can become bigger.

Finally, I don't think Lawrence should complain about getting bigger. After attending many state confrences I can tell you that there are plenty of Kansas towns that are worried about unincorporating because they're SHRINKING! We're lucky to have what we have, and I feel personally that we should appreciate it.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

I don't believe development downtown has to an all-or-nothing proposition. A dozen or so years ago, that block was made up primarily of residential houses that were part of the E. Lawrence neighborhood. The houses immediately to the east still are. The Arts Center created a big draw for downtown, and a considerably less ambitious and overwhelming development of the lots to the north could have done the same, while respecting the residential character of the properties to the east. The character of that neighborhood will now be forever changed, and there is no reason to believe that it will be for the better (at least not for its residents.) I believe in libertarian parlance, this could be termed an uncompensated taking.

"Finally, I don't think Lawrence should complain about getting bigger. "

The concerns are about how Lawrence grows. There is a big difference between a stable population and a shrinking one, and the adage of "grow or die" is just plain absurd. We live on a finite planet, in any way you want to look at it. Exponential growth, which is what your development viewpoint seems to entail, is little more than a cancer.

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Zachary Stoltenberg 2 years, 2 months ago

"Our group is about having a positive, open conversation about those differences instead of letting them divide us."

Bozo can't do that...

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

So, you think that only those who are in lockstep with you should be part of the "conversation," I take it.

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Zachary Stoltenberg 2 years, 2 months ago

No, but I can listen to a differing opinion and have a positive and open discussion. In my experience, listening to other opinions can change your own. People who won't listen, won't compromise, and won't change their opinions usually result in long, expensive, and drawn out conflicts. In this case, the developer made lots of concessions and changes based on neighborhood and city feedback. It was the neighbors who wouldn't listen. It was a flat out "no" from the beginning, and never changed. It happens a lot in Lawrence, glad to see a push for civility and open discourse.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

They made an extreme proposal they knew wouldn't be accepted by much of anybody, then backtracked a little bit, and called it a "compromise."

That's not a compromise, neither was it a conversation, nor does it indicate anything like civility.

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Zachary Stoltenberg 2 years, 2 months ago

^^^^^See? Told ya. Not Possible for Bozo...

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Zachary Stoltenberg 2 years, 2 months ago

Ahhh yes, when called on your behavior fling the hypocrisy card and begin personal attacks and name calling in 3,2.....

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

This was supposedly a call for a conversation, and while I've expressed my doubts about how sincere that call is, I've primarily been stating my opinions, which should be part of any such conversation.

And what's your contribution?-- you essentially tell me to shut up.

BTW, where have I name-called or personally attacked anyone?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

Sounds like you'd fit right in in the self-affirming little group.

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Topple 2 years, 2 months ago

Because he'd rather rant and rave on a message board than discuss it in a face-to-face public setting with educated participants.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

"he'd rather rant and rave on a message board "

Thus ranted and raved Topple on a message board.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

There are lots of venues for communication. I don't need to join this group in order to say my piece.

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Finnbar1 2 years, 2 months ago

and we all know, oneeye, that you live in Lawrence and care only for the betterment of our community by creating a positive environment in which we are all free to have opinions that differ from yours. Well done oneeye, well done.

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Topple 2 years, 2 months ago

It's already been stated that they won't take positions, but will simply inform and discuss.

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Jeremy Farmer 2 years, 2 months ago

Wilbur, I can certainly understand your frustration. As a new group, we have a lot of gaps to deal with. That is, differences between what people expected vs. what they experienced. This could be because of previous histories, our own dealings with people, etc. There are a plethora of things that factor into that.

The great part about CadreLawrence is that you are a part of that conversation. Just by posting what you have. And while I can't begin to understand entirely where you're coming from, the fact that you stood up and spoke SOMETHING is admirable. Your voice matters.

CadreLawrence isn't about positions. It's about what's happening right now. But since we are ALL a part of the conversation, we will have opinions. We will have positions. We will have hills that we will die on and we will all disagree. But the catalyst for conversation can't take an opinion, because then we exclude people. And we don't want to let our differences with each other keep us from making a difference together in our community.

So, you have some obvious concerns about skyrocketing taxes. You have some issues with our commissioners. You've taken the first step to post your thoughts. The next step is to do something about it.

Edmund Burke said, "all that is necessary for evil to prosper is that enough good people do nothing."

Your community is not dependent upon a group of people at any point in history. It's dependent upon you. Join the conversation. Let your voice be heard. Welcome to CadreLawrence.

Sincerely, Jeremy Farmer jfarmer83@gmail.com

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

"Edmund Burke said, "all that is necessary for evil to prosper is that enough good people do nothing.""

So, you're saying that the people who opposed this hotel development are evil?

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Jeremy Farmer 2 years, 2 months ago

Bozo: Certainly not. I was simply referencing a quote about apathy in the context of what I had written. Going back, I see that wasn't clear, and I apologize. No one in this conversation is "evil" -- but all that is necessary for what we don't want to happen to prosper is that enough good people do nothing. But I'm certainly not a good quotable like Edmund Burke. Thanks for pointing that out and my apologies for the confusion.

JF

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

Here's one aspect of this conversation that shouldn't be overlooked-- much of the motivation for all involved in projects such as this one is self-interest, not necessarily the community interest.

That's true of the neighborhood, who want to protect the quiet enjoyment of their couple of blocks of "small town" Lawrence-- likely a major reason they bought their houses in the first place. That's also true of the developers of this hotel, who are looking primarily at the profits they'll make, as well as the notoriety that comes with doing a major development like this.

So while I respect your wish to do what's best for the community as a whole, I don't believe for a second that that's the primary motivator for the developers you've chosen to support.

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Jeremy Farmer 2 years, 2 months ago

Bozo:

I would say, I'm not an official speaker of CadreLawrence...that's simply the forum or catalyst for the conversation. You and I have opinions. CadreLawrence is the middle ground where we meet for a good conversation.

I would also like to hear you out some more. While I agree in principle that it could be construed as self interest, I'm not sure how much of that rings true for me. I have the privilege of working with folks who are low income (within 185% of the federal poverty level) each day. They frequently come in and talk to us about how there are no jobs in Lawrence. We have quite a few people who drive (for their second job) to the outskirts of Topeka or DeSoto for an $8.50 per hour job...because there just aren't a lot of jobs in Lawrence for the density of the population that exists here.

For me personally, this development was about the creation of jobs. It was about being able to tell people that a hotel, restaurant and retail space just a few doors down from us was hiring. It wasn't about the neighborhood (although my family has owned two houses on the 800 block of Connecticut for the better part of 50 years) and their interests...because you had people who wanted the quiet neighborhood, and people who expected downtown to meet them at their property line as it expanded. One hates this development and one doesn't. Selfish interests on both parts? Sure.

The Developers...yes, they'll make profits, and sure, they'll receive notoriety. But to me, that's just the surface. They'll create jobs for people that I work with everyday that desperately, desperately need them.

The developers may have strictly fiscal motivations...I don't know them, so I can't speak to that. But I do know that they want to spend money here and develop here, in what I think both of us could agree on is often hostile ground (because there are so many conflicting selfish interests), and create jobs here. Regardless of their motivation, I know that it will do so much good to have those folks who currently drive out of town to work their second job, to be able to get it right near downtown, and maybe even in the area that they might live. To me, that's a huge win.

I can't imagine having to make decisions for the entirety of the community. And I'm not saying that I support the developers because I feel that they are doing that necessarily. But the good far outweighs the bad on this one for me.

What are some of your thoughts? You seem well read, and I would love to have a conversation with you about it!

By the way, welcome to CadreLawrence!

JF

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

The jobs aren't insignificant, but there are already two large hotels downtown, and another very large one not far away (Oread,) and there is certainly no shortage of restaurants downtown, as well as several other hotels/motels and bed-and-breakfasts throughout town.

How many jobs will actually be created, and how many will just be transferred from these other establishments as business is diverted from them?

And where do the current residents of the existing neighborhood immediately to the east move to to get what they will have lost once this hotel is built?

Also, do you think that development downtown is an all-or-nothing proposition? If the entire downtown is going to be developed, why was it necessary that this lot become a very large hotel/apt complex? Isn't it possible that there are other sites better suited for that? Shouldn't that be part of the discussion? (it certainly hasn't been in any serious way yet.)

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Jeremy Farmer 2 years, 2 months ago

And we get to the common ground that we can agree on: jobs. There are two large hotels downtown. And yet we still have people unemployed. We have a ton of restaurants in our community, sure...but we have an intern with us this summer who works as a server in two restaurants, because he can make enough money in the summer to pay for his education at the University of Kansas. I am so pro jobs...but I am probably not objective in that, because I see and hear about so many that are suffering because those aren't options for them.

You ask some great questions: how many jobs will be created? How many unique jobs will be created vs. how many people will just be moved around? I think those are absolutely wonderful questions.

The tension for me about the neighborhood is that I've talked to quite a few people in that part of town...namely because my family still has homes there, as I've said. And not everyone is against it. I was surprised to read the City Commission packet to see that there were residents on Rhode Island who thought this was a good idea. I guess the question for me that I might pose to you is: someone will lose something. I'm guessing here, but if they are ten people on the block, and 8 don't want the development, 2 do and it will create (just guessing here) 100 jobs...is it fair to the 102 people to say yes to the 8? Those are things that I constantly struggle with, and that would, if I were in that position, keep me up at night.

And to address your last question, I don't know that I feel it's an all or nothing proposition. My fear is that the developers who we have that want to spend money in our community will be swayed to take their money somewhere else. And then...no one wins. And we're back to wondering what could have happened.

You bring up some great points. I think they're very valid. You are a valued member of this conversation in our community. Let's figure out a solution together that will do what we both agreed on: bring jobs, and then move forward together.

That's what CadreLawrence is about.

What are your thoughts?

JF

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

I think what will eventually happen on that stretch of RI is that those people who value the current "small town" feel will move, and that's probably the majority of owner-occupied residences. It'll become completely dominated by rental properties. How will that affect the larger neighborhood? Pretty simply, the residential character of E. Lawrence is at risk.

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Jeremy Farmer 2 years, 2 months ago

So, if I'm hearing you correctly, we set a precedent for downtown to continue to expand, and pretty soon the "small town" feel that some people moved into that neighborhood for will be gone. Is that right?

If so...how do you propose we can fix it? We agree that there needs to be more jobs. How can we (being you and I) build on that common ground to provide solutions? This is how communities are changed in my opinion. When two people with opposite views find a piece of grass that they can both sit on and, rather than bashing the other for not understanding, sit back and have a conversation.

JF

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

"If so...how do you propose we can fix it? "

We won't fix it if when developers propose rather imposing developments that will loom over those neighborhoods, developers get pretty much whatever they want, and neighbors are told that they're selfish Luddite job-killers for not jumping on the boosterism bandwagon.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

"And we get to the common ground that we can agree on: jobs. There are two large hotels downtown. And yet we still have people unemployed."

I don't believe that this development is motivated by the desire to create jobs. They think they can rent hotel rooms and apartments, sell food at their restaurant, and maybe put in a few boutique shops. It's irrelevant to them if their success comes at the expense of other current establishments attempting to do the same.

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Jeremy Farmer 2 years, 2 months ago

I don't disagree with you...but as I said. I don't know the developers personally. Regardless of whether or not someone's motivations are good or not...I look at if you came down to where I work to feed hungry people, but you were only doing it to have the paper write a story about you -- the bottom line is you fed people. Regardless of your motivations, the end result isn't bad. This will create jobs. Lawrence needs jobs. Regardless of who will have the MOST cash in their pocket at the end of the day, if a low income family can get a job in Lawrence, fill up with gas in Lawrence, and get home to their two kids at 10pm instead of 11:00 -- to me, that's a huge win!

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

So, if I understand you, what you're saying is that neighborhood concerns have no legitimate standing simply because there is a (rather dubious, IMHO) claim that this will result in a net increase in jobs.

And you also seem to be saying the the community (especially E. Lawrence) should have no input in how downtown is developed-- whatever any developer wants to do should just be rubber-stamped on through, complete with a full cohort of tax incentives.

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Finnbar1 2 years, 2 months ago

This sounds like a very good thing Alex, thank you for bringing a positive attitude to Lawrence.

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pace 2 years, 2 months ago

Oh, at last, the chamber is going to speak up, so many years they just were so shy. Those regular citizens were just hogging the conversation.

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lunatic 2 years, 2 months ago

Looks to me like the positive attitudes outweigh the negative attitudes. Unusual for these commentaries. Also interesting that some of the positive posts (Farmer, Delaney, Bolick) actually use their real names and invite comment. Well done Cadre, Well done! Nice web site too by the way.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

There is usually a "self-promotional" aspect to groups such as this. Of course they'll use their real names.

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puddleglum 2 years, 2 months ago

“Several of us have been asking ourselves for a while what has happened to the part of the population that does not have a vested interest in a project but still thinks it is a good project for the community?” said Bolick, who is an assistant vice president for Douglas County Bank.

excellent journalism. I appreciate it.

An assistant vice president for a Bank that doesn't have a vested interest? yeah, right. no vested interest, just money. masonic rule #1: transparent 'truth'.... if you lie directly, it is hard to refute, and many will believe you.

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JrMints 2 years, 2 months ago

Doesn't everyone who lives in Lawrence have a vested interest?

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pizzapete 2 years, 2 months ago

It's great to see a group of bankers and lawyers getting together and passing themselves off as just a bunch of ordinary citizens that want to defend corporate welfare. Bankers, lawyers, and real estate developers for too long haven't been able to have their voices heard in the public forum. They're just trying to put a positive spin on something they have no interest in. Bankers and lawyers don't benefit from uncontrolled growth and tax breaks for develpers, right?

I agree the hotel would benefit downtown and I would like to see it built with the developer taking the risk and paying for it themselves. No TIF, no twenty year property tax abatement, and a parking garage the developer pays for. I don't need the people that lend the money and draw up the contracts for these projects telling me what a great deal it is for the city.

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puddleglum 2 years, 2 months ago

“We have kept hearing from people outside of this community that there is a pretty negative perception about how hard it is to do business here,” said Gary Rexroad

translation: Lawrence has really strict codes and actually enforces many of them to prevent the city from turning into another Topeka or Johnson County.... that makes it more expensive and less profitable than other towns. why do so many people in this town care about what it looks like? why can't we just level this place and build mcdonald's on every corner? A bank or two on every corner? a burrito hut on every street? forget schools, they are expensive and unnecessary, more churches too, they pay ZERO taxes and really help us. donate the parks to the builders, they can put up new 5 story apartment complexes- oh, think of the job growth (temporary-but who cares?) go buy iphone, connect yourself to worldwide web-you need instant info and gps for taco-hut lunch directions. ring ring chime makes faces smile everywhere, twitter me now, I need to know exactly what you are doing-right now. why doesn't toilet paper come with instructions? oh-wait a minute, i already figured it out. go buy a big mac and wolf that baby down.

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asixbury 2 years, 2 months ago

Basically people that live next to downtown should expect growth. That is what happens downtown. If you don't want a large building behind your property, maybe you should have thought of that before moving next to a business district.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

It wasn't a business district when many (if not most) of them moved there. It was part of the E. Lawrence neighborhood.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

That section of NH was largely residential until the houses were razed to make way for the construction of the Arts Center.

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jimmyjms 2 years, 2 months ago

Bozo, Alex Delaney (whom I've never met nor knew existed before reading this story) has attempted to engage you several times, to no avail. Being that it appears that your only contribution to our community is to spend the majority of every day on these boards throwing grenades, how do you possibly have the standing to attack/judge this group?

Get a job, something, anything.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

So, while this group is calling for a conversation, your contribution is to mischaracterize my comments and tell me to shut up.

Aren't you a swell piece of work.

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1southernjayhawk 2 years, 1 month ago

Look, bozo, jimmy is just telling it like it is and it is apparant to all who read here, possibly except you.

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hipper_than_hip 2 years, 2 months ago

Given the ties (direct & indirect) to the development community of some the members, the public at large might be skeptical that CadreLawrence is non-partisan on development-related issues.

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Gary Rexroad 2 years, 2 months ago

I love this community. Passion and opinions from people who care about the community we live in. CadreLawrence is about all people in Lawrence having a conversation about the things that matter to you. We encourage a facts based conversation of issues and by working to understand and respect each other’s points of view even when we disagree.

The idea of CadreLawrence, and those involved, share a common desire to support efforts which provide jobs, to help reduce the tax load on residents and to provide a balanced perspective to our elected officials. To be positive in support of prosperity. I believe most of Lawrence would agree these are good things for our community and all the people who live and play here, we just sometimes see different ways to get there.

I personally believe this is important work for all of us and that the time is right. Opportunity comes and goes each day and is lost if we are not working together to capture it.

It is our real hope Lawrence will join in this conversation, working through our differences to find common goals we can all share. Please contact me directly to discuss further…

Gary Rexroad - grexroad@live.com - 785.226.2908

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pizzapete 2 years, 2 months ago

How exactly are you trying to help reduce the tax load on residents? How does a special tax district and a twenty year property tax abatemtent for this development fit in with that goal? I hate paying taxes, too, but I love this community and understand we all have to pull our own weight and pay our fair share.

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alex_delaney 2 years, 2 months ago

@pizzapete, I think the answer you are looking for will come at the 7/24 City Commission meeting. I will admit that I didn't understand TIFs at first, but now that I have taken some time to learn more, I think it makes sense for Lawrence.

What I feel we should be asking is how much property tax will an empty lot generate? Is it more than an abatement, which isn't being offered anyway? How much will a public park generate? I personally feel that it is obvious that a multi-million dollar hotel will pay more in tax now than has been paid on that property in decades.

alex.j.delaney@gmail.com">p>alex.j.delaney@gmail.com OR (785) 393-6224
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pizzapete 2 years, 2 months ago

I agree a multi-million dollar hotel paying its share of taxes from day one will do the most to reduce the tax load on residents. A vacant lot will only produce the same amount of property tax in twenty years as a building given a twenty year tax abatement. A city park benefits the whole communtity in and of itself. And a vacant lot or city park don't increase our need for more police, firefighters, sewers, roads, and other infrustructure we all have to pay for when we continue to build more apartments and hotels that don't pay their fair share of taxes up front.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

This is the problem with the whole TIF/abatement issue-- proponents only ever want to talk about one side of the equation-- the taxes that will someday be collected, many years from now, but not the expenses that these developments will create for the entire community in the meantime. And guess who gets to pick up that tab for the next 20 or so years?

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

While every project will mean expenses, a project of this size will immediately pump millions into the local economy. Carpenters will be hired, as will electricians and plumbers, laborers, etc. Assuming they spend their wages, those dollars will be circulated and recirculated many times over. And each time, a tax will be assessed and collected to offset the expenses you speak of.

During the next 20 years, jobs will be provided. Some of those jobs might be cannibalized from other hotels, restaurants, though likely not all. The consumer will decide that based on their spending patterns. Surely the hope is that a new hotel will attract new business. Every city does that. Cities lobby for conferences, sporting events, all sorts of things. Lawrence should compete with Lincoln, Columbia, Fayetteville for those things. A new hotel, a new rec. center, a thriving downtown, should bring those things. Along with more jobs. And yes, as money comes from outside the city, taxes should be less for the average city resident.

And then in the future, when the abatement runs out, the city benefits by having a tax paying building instead of an empty lot.

I understand you not wanting this project because it might change the flavor of the neighborhood. But I don't buy your argument about taxes not coming in for 20 years. They will come in as soon as the first carpenter cashes his first paycheck.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

We've had a lot of development over the last 20 years - have taxes gone down?

My experience is that they've continually gone up, despite all of that development, complete with incentives of various kinds.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

Taxes have gone up because we the citizens keep demanding more of the government. And the government provides those things to us, but often in a most inefficient manner. It has little to do with development.

When I first moved to Lawrence, in the mid '70s, the population was something about 47,000. Now it's in the upper 80,000 range (88,000, or something close. Or said differently, almost double). Development is going to happen under those circumstances. Maybe if the population were stagnant, and you had development attracting outside monies, you might expect your taxes to remain at a certain level. But not with a growing population base. And as rural Kansas loses people, Lawrence and other cities will grow. That's inevitable. And those people will need jobs.

There's an old joke that goes something like this. Do you know the difference between a recession and a depression? A recession is when your neighbor is out of work. A depression is when you're out of work. Jafs, we live in difficult times. A minimum wage job is better than no job. A part time job is better than no job. Sure, we'd all like full time jobs at a living wage. I'd like to win the lottery as well. And in a perfect world, I'd like development that was smart. I'd like development that didn't need a tax abatement. I'd like to believe that every recipient of government assistance will use that assistance to better themselves and will repay that help by ending what got them into that bad situation in the first place. But none of those things are the world I live in. During these difficult times, there is a guy I've never met who is willing to pump millions of dollars into the local economy into a project that I have no personal interest in. It will create jobs. Is it perfect? No. But I'd rather he pay tradesmen than we give them public assistance. I'd rather he make new jobs than we give those people public assistance. I'd rather collect property taxes on a building in 20 years than collect taxes on a vacant lot forever.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

This is nothing but a white flag in the face of corporate welfare and trickle-down economics. But at least you're consistent in your support of the globalized race to the bottom.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

Bozo, rather than gripe, why don't you get off your butt, buy that lot and build a more appropriate building. Or do nothing with it. Why don't you get off your butt and create a few hundred living wage jobs. Do something, rather than constantly complain. Every solution you've ever proposed is exactly the same. Someone else fixes your perceived problem. You don't have to do squat. I'll make you a deal, Bozo. You buy that lot and I'll support whatever you want to do with it. Fair? Build a wind turbine factory there. Pay every employee $1,000/hr. No, $2,000/hr. Plant corn there. Start your own non profit helping the homeless. Whatever.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

City residents who pay property and sales taxes, patronize local businesses, etc. are vital, and part of what helps a community survive and prosper.

When I and my wife go out to eat, we support local businesses that employ people.

Lawrence has always had a "jobs problem" and probably always will, like most college towns. Students provide a steady supply of part time labor, so businesses don't need to provide full time jobs as much as they might elsewhere.

There's really no way to "fix" that problem, unless Lawrence becomes less of a college town, but of course that may create other undesirable conditions.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 1 month ago

"Bozo, rather than gripe, why don't you get off your butt, buy that lot and build a more appropriate building."

That's idiotic. We have zoning laws, and HRC commissions, etc., because no one, not even Compton, can afford buy every lot that has an unwise project proposed for it.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

"as money comes from outside the city, taxes should be less for the average city resident"

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

As money comes from outside the city ... Let me explain. Cities are constantly in competition with each other. New Orleans, Miami, San Diego compete for Super Bowls all the time. There's a ton of money coming into each city when they host such events. Another way of saying that is that there is a ton of jobs. I'm no economist, but when I see cities behaving like that, trying very hard to land those events, I assume there is a benefit. Why else would they behave like that? Kansas City recently hosted the NAIA basketball tournament. A lot of people came and spent money. Should that tournament come back to KC next year? Ask the mayor and he will say yes. Ask the restaurants and hotels and they will say yes. Kansas City competes with other similar cities, Omaha, St. Louis, Oklahoma city, etc. They won't compete with New Orleans for Super Bowls, but they compete. So do we. So should we. Not with New Orleans and not with Kansas City. But with Lincoln, Columbia and Fayetteville. For academic conferences. For bike races and baseball tournaments. For all sorts of things. If we don't compete, our bike rides will stay in that new hotel in Norman and spend their money there. The Raiders will play in Lincoln. The geology dept. will attend that conference in Madison.

Unless you believe every dollar earned here in Lawrence will be spent in Lawrence and unless you believe that no outside dollars can be attracted to Lawrence ... then, yes, as money comes from outside the city, taxes should be less for the average resident.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

And yet, over the time I've lived here, with all of the development and associated incentives, taxes have gone up, not down - both property and sales taxes.

Seems to me that if the argument is that incentivizing these developments will bring taxes down for local residents, they should prove that in order to get the incentives rather than just saying it.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

What is causing your taxes to go up, Jafs? Is it the fact that previous developments didn't produce what they said they would? Or is it the "T"? Is it the shelter and a new high school and a couple of new elementary schools and a new middle school? And higher costs for police, fire, the guys who fix the potholes? Really, Jafs, for all we know, previous development produced substantial revenues that were then eaten up when we built some really nice looking sports fields for both schools. Or for the garage. Or a new library.

I think it's a little too complicated to say my taxes went up, therefore development is bad. But as I said to you on another thread, since the wages given to the workers on this project won't show up as a direct offset for the costs to the city, we'll never know for certain. And without specific insight, I'd rather have a developer spend 18 million here than not. I'd rather have tradesmen worker than them being on public assistance.

BTW - If this project does not go forward and tradesmen do indeed go on public assistance, unemployment, etc., would that show up as a direct cost of this project not going forward? The answer is no. But the tradesman on assistance will be collecting real dollars. His unemployment will be real. It won't show up as a result of opposition to development, but it will be real. I think we need to look a little deeper, rather than just saying we're giving "X" amount in abatements. It's more complicated, I think.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

If it's more complicated, then you can't say that these new incentivized developments are a net gain for the city, which is my point exactly.

However they're sold as being good for the city, I'd like to see proof, or at least evidence, that's the case before giving any incentives.

Folks who like them tend to focus on potential gains without noticing losses, and vice versa.

In my view, growth and development are pretty much a wash, between positive and negative aspects of them. Clearly, the TIF district in this area didn't produce anywhere near the amount of revenue anticipated, and so the city has to pay for virtually the entire costs of the garage.

And, population growth and new housing developments produce extra infrastructure and service costs, like the ones you mention.

I'm very upset that the school district used some bonds that I thought would be used to pay for upgrades and repairs to buildings, etc. for athletic fields - I'm much less likely to vote for a school bond issue in the future.

But, at least those, as well as the increases for the "T" and library expansion, were put to a vote. How about if we put all of these incentives for developers to a city-wide vote?

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

Sure, there aren't guarantees. There never will be. I know you've talked about companies going bankrupt in the past. Heck, several cities in California have gone bankrupt with more on the edge. Maybe the companies, unions, etc. should have sought better guarantees.

But several points need to be made. Generally, development of this sort works out good for both the city and the developer. The benefits to the community are a little more vague, things like jobs etc. But generally, they are win/win propositions. Guaranteed? No. Things can always go wrong, like a housing bubble, a deep recession, a 9/11. But generally, development will be beneficial because generally, population increases and with that, jobs are necessary. Infrastructure that will serve this project like fire and police will be necessary anyway if we assume population growth. Look at Wikipedia and see if there has been any time when population growth did not happen here. Is there a guarantee it will continue? No. But it's a good bet that it will.

I'm not a big fan of putting everything up for a vote. California is run by propositions. And the voters have passed some real bad ones, like Prop. 13. And if we have local elections where 16% of eligible voters actually vote, we really might get some off the wall things passed.

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jafs 2 years, 1 month ago

I'd like to see some evidence that these sorts of things are "generally win win situations" - and that needs to be a very good analysis that includes a wide view of the effects. The example of the TIF district on NH clearly shows that we've had to shell out a lot more money for the parking garage, which is a negative effect, right?

If the developments occur, then yes, infrastructure, fire, police, etc. will be needed, but if it's done without incentives, then the city gets tax revenue to cover those costs.

When population increases, demand on infrastructure increases, crime increases, etc. I moved here about 16 years ago - when I did, it was a much smaller town, with about 1/2 the population. In that time, it's changed significantly, and is much larger now. Is it a better place to live now? I'd say there are some positive changes but also some negative ones, and in some ways, Lawrence has lost some of the things that attracted me in the first place.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 1 month ago

Just to focus on one point, Jafs, which is the biggest "IF" that we keep talking about. You mentioned if this project were done without the incentives, then ... I keep coming back to the possibility that without the incentives, the project won't be done at all. Neither of us know for certain which is true. The city doesn't know for certain. I know you are risk averse, but as you mentioned, as I mentioned, population will increase (in all likelihood). Jobs, infrastructure, etc. will be necessary. But both path have risks. You focus on the adverse risk should the incentives not work out as planned. But the risk that this empty lot that could produce jobs and revenue for a growing city might remain an empty lot. An empty lot is just as bad for Lawrence as a set of incentives don't work out.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

And, in fact, these new developments often include the ability to charge an extra percentage of sales taxes which goes to the developers rather than the city.

That certainly doesn't lower anybody's taxes, and raising them for some people.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

A smaller, more appropriate project would also create construction jobs. And large projects on the many other (more appropriate) potential locations in the downtown area would also create constructions jobs.

Merely throwing out the word "jobs" doesn't mean that all other considerations have to be flushed down the toilet, as you clearly believe.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

You're correct, if a smaller, more appropriate project would actually happen. As we've seen, sometimes when the numbers don't add up for the developer, the project doesn't happen at all. And then those jobs do indeed disappear. The money never does get invested into the community. From memory, wasn't it 18 million, or something like that? Now if you had some kind of guarantee, that if this project was rejected, or made more size appropriate, that he would go ahead and invest 16 million and provide jobs, but maybe 5% less jobs than with the bigger project, then we're talking compromise. But no such guarantee exists, does it. If rejected, there seems to be as good a chance that absolutely nothing will happen to that lot. All those carpenters, plumbers, electricians, etc. on welfare. That will cost the taxpayers more than any abatement.

Bozo, if the East Lawrence community had pooled their resources, maybe got a grant of some sort and turned that lot into a productive project like a community garden, I would be the first to applaud such efforts. And I'd defend it, because it would be a valuable resource in the community. And if corn and tomatoes growing in the middle of the city offended people, if they though grant money shouldn't be wasted in such a manner, I'd defend the garden as a valuable teaching opportunity. It would give our youth something constructive to do. And would provide for the community. I would say to that critic, get over it. The larger community's needs outweigh your concerns. Even if some of the money for the garden comes from that taxpayer himself. He needs to support the larger community. So too with this 18 million dollar project.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

If downtown is really going to see the development that everyone apparently sees as inevitable, then these lots definitely could and would be developed, in a more appropriate way.

The reason we haven't seen any alternatives is because the principles proposing this development have one interest only in mind-- maximizing their profits, no matter who suffers in the process.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

The reason a more appropriate project wasn't proposed, Bozo, is because you sat on your butt rather than making it happen. You didn't write that grant for the community garden. You didn't get all your neighbors together, you didn't garner the appropriate support. You could have pooled the community's resources, bought that lot and done with it want you think is appropriate. It's all on you, Bozo. Instead of wasting all your time typing in this forum, you could have been out there, beating the pavement, getting your vision implemented. But you wasted your time. You wasted the resources available. This is all your fault, Bozo. You wasted a golden opportunity and now your neighbors will suffer because you were too lazy to make it happen. How do you sleep at night, Bozo?

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

Bozo, I've invited you to have civil conversations. Repeatedly. You always decline. All that waving a white flag and accusing me of supporting a race to the bottom. Jeez, is right. If you want a civil conversation, then behave like you want one. If you don't like having the bottom dredged, then don't dredge the bottom. Your choice.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 1 month ago

"The reason a more appropriate project wasn't proposed, Bozo, is because you sat on your butt rather than making it happen. "

You mean like this bit of "civility?"

What a hypocrite.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 1 month ago

Look at the chronology, Bozo. You made the comment about me supporting the race to the bottom. My comment was in response to your comment. Speak with a civil tongue and you will receive a civil response. Make false accusations and you will receive in kind. Snipe and you will be sniped. Again, your choice.

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Catalano 2 years, 2 months ago

The city could have bought that lot for $700K. Instead, they want to pay $1M for the Salvation Army building (and where is that money coming from, btw? Compton?) to expand the Arts Center? To me, Lawrence just lost an historic block of town and East Lawrence now begins at Connecticut. But why would you care about that? You don't live anywhere near there. Get back to me when you lose your sunlight and somebody eating dinner can look down on your back yard. What's a few property rights among friends?

And, as far as your "personal feeling" that this development is a great deal...how great has the TIF across the street been for me, a taxpayer? Not so good, I think. But it's so much easier to ask forgiveness that permission. That's what the Moores did, isn't it?

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hipper_than_hip 2 years, 2 months ago

Are there any current development projects that CadreLawrence will speak in opposition to at near-term Planning Commission, City Commission, or County Commission meetings?

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alex_delaney 2 years, 2 months ago

Yes, Downtown Lawrence's association (DLI) publicly supported the project.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

If they weren't asking for and receiving abatements, tif's, etc. I might agree.

Also, there's a real question about whether or not this project conforms to local guidelines, given the HRC's position on the issue.

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Gary Rexroad 2 years, 2 months ago

Pizzapete I had some of the same concerns about the tax abatements and the TIF district but the more I learned I realized there was more advantage for residents than I knew. These points made sense to me…

•Financial benefits that come from jobs, bed tax, increased shopping in downtown, tourist dollars sticking in Lawrence etc.. from this development can be far greater than property taxes the city would receive in the same period of time.

•The property will only increase in valuation if the developers are willing to invest their money in the project . Without the development, there is no gain in other benefits and without the TIF program, the development may not be feasible.

•The TIF district as proposed is a part of the financial feasibility of the project in total. 100% of all taxes will be collected with a portion being returned to the developer as defined in the program. Some taxes are retained which otherwise would not even exist

For me this seems like a good approach to encourage people to invest their money in Lawrence. TIF districts are used broadly across the US for this very purpose and the city commissioners and staff have structured this program to assure the city will not carry any risk. (Good job commissioners)

Sure, the developers will profit, as they should, but so will Lawrence. Lets talk more if your interested in some of these details...

Gary Rexroad - grexroad@live.com - 785.226.2908

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pizzapete 2 years, 2 months ago

Thanks for the offer Gary, but I don't see any need to have a private conversation with you. I prefer to keep this discussion out in the open for everyone to see. The property will probably increase in valuation no matter what happens to it, it's commercial real estate in downtown Lawrence after all. As far as the project not being economically feasible, it has been shown that it is in fact economically feasible if the develper wants to build a smaller building at less of a cost to them. The developer could make a similiar percentage of profit from a smaller building and have less money tied up in the investment. Unfortunately, instead of a making the same percentage of profit from the smaller investment they would rather make a greater amount of money. To maximize the money the developer will make they need a bigger building with more incentives from the city to build it. I can see how this benefits the developer, but adding a few more dishwasher, maid, and waitress jobs to a city full of nowhere jobs is not what we as a community should be using our TIF for at this time. Wouldn't we be better off using our TIF to bring some better paying jobs to Lawrence?

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anotherview 2 years, 2 months ago

Have you checked with city hall to see how the TIF's project worked out for the complex in the nine hundred block of NH street? The last I heard, the city (the taxpayers) had to contribute tax dollars to help pay off the bonds.

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Carol Bowen 2 years, 2 months ago

This group may or may not be what some of us want, but communication has to start somewhere. No one is listening. Everyone is taking sides . . many times uninformed. The blogs get vicious. There are no winners. Lawrence has always had "mood swing" representation on the city commission. I for one, would like to see our community pull together. If you don't like this group, start another. Keep community first. This town is not big enough to divide.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

But is a conversation really what they want? Or did they just want to provide visible public support for the developers at the city commission meeting as the commission went through the motions of affirming a decision they had clearly already made?

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Carol Bowen 2 years, 2 months ago

I don't agree with what is happening either. We've got to start somewhere.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

There's nothing wrong with talking. But E. Lawrence residents did a good deal of talking about his project, and only the HRC heard them. They were then over-ruled by a city commission who clearly didn't give a damn about neighborhood concerns, and it appears to me that this new group was formed to cheer them on in that decision, not to have a "conversation."

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Alceste 2 years, 2 months ago

"In March, Bolick and Rexroad, who is an area manager for the Microsoft Corp., came together and started formulating the idea of CadreLawrence. Today the organization has an 11-member board that meets monthly to stay abreast of current issues related to jobs, economic development and growth."

Funny.....no names and contact data provided......

Any why is showing up at meetings so important? Then again, the reality that appointed "study group members"; city commisioners; appointed city "advisory boards"; city staff; et. all. are permitted to get away with NOT opening emails and reading them (let alone responding to them....); the fact they don't respond to fax communications.....etc., et. all, all underscore the very real fact that the game is rigged; the decisions are made BEFORE meetings; the deck is stacked; the dice are loaded; blah, blah, blah. CadreLawrence.....what a joke! Where's Che when you need him? shrug

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Catalano 2 years, 2 months ago

THIS is what having a conversation with the neighborhood is like and what the results could be:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=258800240897154&set=a.257267704383741.50671.254780521299126&type=1&theater

Tony Krsnich rocks! He didn't marry into the Chase family (which one would think would provide enough extra zeroes in the bank account in and of itself) and he's up front and honest about what he wants to do. Any public incentives he received for the Poehler Building RE-development are well-deserved.

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Kate Rogge 2 years, 2 months ago

Babbitt lobbyists to swell the crowd at mike night. Because it is not enough to own the City Council.

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grimpeur 2 years, 2 months ago

“We have kept hearing from people outside of this community that there is a pretty negative perception about how hard it is to do business here,” said Gary Rexroad...

Gosh! It was reading so well, too! But it's hard to take any group seriously when their intro press release--I mean, community interest story--has this sort of nonsense in it.

Too bad we don't have a club in town dedicated to demonstrating what a wonderful place Lawrence is, and why so many people think this, instead of telling us that we haven't given someone enough rope yet.

I am for good growth. I am for Lawrence's continued growth. I appreciate the residential projects, both recent and proposed, in our downtown. But this disingenuous claim--that it's hard for some nonspecific businesses which face special but unnamed challenges from the city because of some capricious but uncited policy or regulations, all cloaked in a veneer of vague concerns over outside perceptions by some faceless adjudicators in some other unnamed place--is a toxic falsehood which diminishes our city in the pursuit of what appears to be a generally anti-regulatory agenda aimed at pressuring the city to up its incentives and abatement offers or decrease its scrutiny of projects which skirt existing regulations.

In other words: yes, we still see what you're doing and we know why. You want to help and to be helped? You want cooperation? You want to curry better perceptions from the beginning? Then stop it with this rot. Don't sully the discussion, nor the worthwhile current and future projects in our city, with this negative campaign.

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pizzapete 2 years, 2 months ago

There are many things that bring people to Lawrence to visit and to live. A hotel is not one of them. You wouldn't expect anyone to say, for example, I think I'm going to go to Chicago, I heard they have this new hotel downtown that I'd like to visit. No, people go to Chicago for the same things that bring people to Lawrence. They go to see a sporting event, a concert, to visit a museum or other attraction, for a unique shopping experience, etc. When I have friends and relatives visit from out of town they want to eat at Free State, Miltons, Pachamamas, Wheat Fields, etc. because they offer something different from the chain restaurants that dominate many other towns. I have friends that love shopping downtown because of stores like Weavers, Waxman Candles, Love Garden Sounds, Sunflower Outdoor and Bike, Phoenix Gallery, etc., all locally owned businesses with employees that go out of their way to help their customers. Many people come to Lawrence to watch our Jayhawks play basketball, football, and other sports. People come from all over Kansas to see a concert at the Lied Center, Liberty Hall, Bottleneck, etc., places that bring in music you won't see in other similarly sized cities. In short, Lawrence has many things that bring people to our city and a hotel is not one of them. We should be using out TIF money to bring something that will actually bring people and well paying jobs to Lawrence. An aquarium downtown would be such an attraction. A fudge factory or candy manufacturer downtown could be such a place. A Ferris wheel or open air concert/theatre venue could be such an attraction. Yes, a hotel is going to give people a place to stay while they visit Lawrence, but it isn't going to bring any additional people to our city that wouldn't otherwise make a visit. We should reserve our TIF money for a business or project we can all be proud of. One that brings quality jobs and encourages more people to come to visit and live in Lawrence. Why should we squander our TIF money on a hotel that by the developers own admission isn't economically feasible? Lawrence, we can do better.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 2 months ago

Thanks to republicans,bankers and builders investing in a home or other real estate is no longer a safe investment. Folks are paying way too much to keep doing business. Now they builders come frequently wanting a pre-bailout loan from taxpayers because they claim they don't know how to make money on their investments without taxpayers shoring up their projects up with millions of preferential tax dollars.

That's right regulatory agencies allowed the home and retail markets to be flooded by lending just about anyone who would sign on the dotted line a home. Whether they could afford it or not..... documented.

Not only did they the allow the residential market to flood BUT allowed extraordinary inflated values to go on as if there was a never ending supply of money. This was reckless and stupid.

Then these same people sold off bundles of bad real estate loans world wide thus taking down the world wide economy. Does anyone believe that the bankers world wide are not angry.

Don't expect financial institutions around the world to help or get fooled again. Simply put real estate is not as solid as it once was. Bankers and builders are living a life of pretend at taxpayers expense = business as usual.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 2 months ago

Incentives – NOT from taxpayers!

How much will this cost the local taxpayer? A variety of tax increases?

Is annexation expanding our tax base or our tax bills?

There is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned - annexation is draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

Annexation is the result of subsidies paid for by the American taxpayer. These range from the obvious to the obscure and include big projects-like the billions we spend on new roads as well as smaller ones-like the tax-breaks that encourage businesses to move to the edge of town.

We've subsidized annexation at such a basic level for so long, that many people believe the status quo is actually fair and neutral. This is false-what we think of as a level playing field is tilted steeply in favor of developers and the local real estate industry.

How we subsidize annexation:

  • building new and wider roads
  • building schools on the fringe
  • extending sewer and water lines to new developments
  • extending emergency services to the fringe *direct pay-outs to developers

Is it the taxpayers responsibility to guarantee the real estate industry and developers a nice tidy profit on their speculation and/or risky investments? absolutely not!

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 2 months ago

I believe all incentives to sell and/or develop property should come from:

  1. Real estate agencies - Owners cut your wage packages by 75%

  2. Property owners - cut your prices to the developers

  3. developers - cut your margins by 75%

  4. building contractors and suppliers - reduce your margins by 50%

  5. Bankers - furnish interest free loans to developers

Incentives NEVER from the taxpayers! 99% of taxpayers are not profiting from the forced investments.

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 2 months ago

How imperious of you to make such demands.

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Gary Rexroad 2 years, 2 months ago

Pizzapete

First of all, thank you for the dialogue. While we may see things differently you make very good points which are important and should be heard as decisions are made in Lawrence.

You have some very interesting and positive ideas for attractions to draw people to Lawrence and I hope those ideas develop. As they do develop, and people begin taking personal risks to see them through, I hope they are supported and cheered on by our community. Business growth helps create jobs and helps shift tax basis off of residential. That is the ideal behind CadreLawrence…

Thanks for this dialogue Pizzapete

Gary Rexroad - grexroad@live.com – 785.226.2908

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logicisking 2 years, 2 months ago

looks like Stan Rasmussen, a member of CadreLawrence listed above, is also being appointed to the HRC, coincidence? i don't think so!

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 2 months ago

"Business growth helps create jobs and helps shift tax basis off of residential" That is the theory and the rhetoric

This has not happened in the last 30 years. Rates,fees,taxes have all increased as a result of this bedroom community. Each time the tax base is expanded so are the taxes,rates and fees.

Where are the tax abatements,tax rebates,reduction in city services fees/rates for the taxpayers who have been funding this tax dollar welfare? for the past 30 years?

So what is wrong with the profiteers no matter how many funding their own way in order for them not to appear as welfare queens and tax dollar moochers?

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

You mentioned 30 years. Thirty years ago, the population of Lawrence was 52,700. It is now 87,600. (rounded off for years 1980 and 2010, respectively) Either we have 30,000+ unemployed, or we have jobs. And those jobs were either created by government or by private business. If they are government jobs, we all know where their money comes from, so that would explain your increase in taxes. If the jobs were created by business, then the increase in taxes would be explained by an increase in services demanded by our citizens and inflation. But the bottom line is this, the jobs were created. Maybe we citizens should cease demanding so much of our government. Or we may expect higher taxes. But we can't have our cake and eat is too.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 1 month ago

One of the main reasons for the expansion of Lawrence's population is that it became a bedroom community-- the Lords of Growth sprawled the town miles beyond Iowa St., but made little attempt to bring in any significant employment opportunities, but there was an increase in the number of low-paying service jobs to serve the local needs of these commuters (a large percentage of whom do their major shopping in the KC area and Topeka where they work.)

As the town grew, it became much less walkable, and prior to the T, it was the largest city in the country without a bus service. Not to worry for you though-- those who agree with you that the poor and the lower middle class should be ground to a pulp in the race to the bottom are winning.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 2 months ago

The jobs are in Topeka and/or Kansas City/Johnson County metro.

So I've read bedroom communities require high taxes to survive. 30 years ago Lawrence was still reasonable. When the "boom town economy" mentality erupted so did the cost of living in Lawrence,Kansas.

Somehow inflation does not improve the quality of life but provides an illusion as to net worth.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

If you want a Lawrence of thirty years ago, you'll need a time machine. But the Lawrence of then had no bus system, no shelter, fewer demands made for services. Do you want those things or not. If the answer is yes, then you must pay for them. If the answer is no, then convince your fellow citizens to demand less. Or maybe you should demand that 35,000 residents leave.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 2 months ago

Also inflated property values is nothing more than a tax increase to meet the demands of an over extended city government.

Basing an economy on new construction starts is no longer a method by which has any substance.

Reagan/Bush/Bush/Cheney home loan scams killed residential. Lending institutions killed retail as well. All on the perspective that real estate is invincible. Property values are down with tons of homeowners owing more than properties are worth which may never bounce back.

Politicians,deregulation and financial institutions have put property owners in a rather precarious position while at the same time eroding confidence with gusto.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 2 months ago

Our city's current budget crunch could easily be tied directly to infrastructure expenses needed to serve new real estate developments. The community is way over extended in this regard.

If real estate growth paid for itself and was financially positive, we would not be in a budget crunch. But with increased numbers of real estate you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by real estate does not pay for the services they require from a municipality.

Now Lawrence is handing out tax incentives like drunken sailors..... how is this fiscally responsible?

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

"Our city's current budget crunch could easily be tied to infrastructure expenses need to serve new real estate developments." - I assume you mean police and fire protection for the homes where the 35,000 new residents live. Shall we send those 35,000 on their way, or cut police and fire? Or no transit? No shelter? Maybe build a wall around Lawrence and let no one in?

How long have you been here, Merrill? Just long enough to qualify for staying?

Maybe Lawrence ought to cut loose North Lawrence, or everything west of Iowa. You can then rename what's left Mayberry, RFD.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 2 months ago

Let's realize that this group is sponsored and encouraged to represent the following:

  1. Real estate agencies

  2. Property owners

  3. developers

  4. building contractors and suppliers

  5. bankers

  6. investors

Yet the largest group of stakeholders in this and other similar circumstances is a good many taxpayers who are being strong armed into supporting a real estate project we do not support for many reasons.

Taxpayers are providing millions of tax dollars to make a real estate project profitable which apparently cannot be accomplished standing on its' own which begs the question "How is this a fiscally responsible use of tax dollars?"

The real estate market is still on shaky ground. Which is to say this property could lose value anytime. Why are taxpayers throwing money at this project? We're not voluntarily.

Nothing has changed much since the meltdown and banks are still playing the same risky investment schemes as before from what I read.

Do the Lawrence cookie jars need ALL of the tax dollars related to any property? Of course they do let's not pretend.

If these tax incentives were put to a city wide vote the incentives would be voted down ..... aka go down in flames. This is why government does not provide the opportunity to the stakeholders.

Then there are guidelines that which are being ignored. Then there are the neighbors quality of life issues and perhaps doing more damage to their property values.

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 2 months ago

trici is a lousy, rotten spammer posting lousy, rotten spam.

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