News and notes from around town:
• Pop-up barbecue — both my cholesterol and my excitement levels have popped up over the thought. Soon, the idea of pop-up barbecue won’t just be a thought in Lawrence.
The Lawrence-based catering company Mr. Bacon BBQ soon will launch a new concept: the occasional restaurant.
Jeff Frye, an owner of Mr. Bacon BBQ, has leased space at 846 Ill. in the same little commercial center that houses Rick’s Place. Frye primarily will use the space for his commercial kitchen for his catering business. But periodically — perhaps one to two times a week during some parts of the year — Frye is going to host “pop-up barbecue” events. That simply involves smoking a bunch of meat, fixing a bunch of sides, throwing open the front door of the business and telling people to come get it while it lasts.
Frye said he has been serving BBQ on a semi-regular basis at the Cottin’s Farmers' Markets on Thursday nights. Plus, the business periodically serves its barbecue at Conroy’s Pub on West Sixth Street. Between the two, Mr. Bacon has developed a good following.
But Frye said he’s not ready to commit to a full-time restaurant because that likely would take away from his catering business, which also has been robust.
He said the idea for pop-up barbecue came to him as he saw how many people were following his business on Facebook and Twitter. The plan is to announce the dates of the pop-up barbecue events at least a couple of days ahead of time on those social media platforms. Frye said food trucks in larger cities have had success with that type of model. In addition to the social media promotion, Frye said he also plans to just put out a sandwich board to alert folks passing by.
“We’re going to use both the high-tech and the low-tech option,” Frye said.
Expect to see signs out for most KU home football games. Frye said he hopes to have his first pop-up barbecue event on Aug. 1, the date students traditionally start moving into apartments around town.
“I figure the neighborhood is going to be crazy with people who haven’t unpacked their kitchens yet,” Frye said. (If they are anything like I was in college, that may still may be the case a couple of months from now.)
As for the barbecue, don’t let the name fool you into thinking it all centers on bacon. According to the company’s website, Mr. Bacon is actually the name of the family’s dog.
But the barbecue does look like it will have a unique flair. Frye said he tries to focus on a little more of an “elevated barbecue or culinary-inspired barbecue.”
That includes a brisket with an espresso-based rub in a smoked garlic sauce and even a smoked meatloaf dish.
• Perhaps you want to just pop in and vote for your favorite candidates in the Aug. 7 primary elections. The problem is, you may not exactly know which legislative district you even live in anymore following the large-scale redistricting that took place.
Well, Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew’s office has decided to mail out new voter registration cards to every registered voter in Douglas County. Those cards should start arriving in mailboxes any day now.
The cards will tell you what legislative districts you are in. Shew said state law does not require him to send out the new cards, but he thought it would be wise to do so because all but 10 precincts in the county had at least some sort of change in terms of what districts were included in the precincts. (Precinct boundaries actually did not change.)
The notification, though, comes with a price. Shew said his office printed and mailed about 75,000 of the cards, which cost about $23,000.
If you want even more detailed information, such as a full listing of all the Kansas Senate and House of Representative candidates for your district, the folks at KU’s Institute for Policy and Social Research have created a new computer application for that. Click here to go to a website that lets you type in any Kansas address, and then shows you the list of candidates for the state Senate and House races.
Of course, you don’t have to wait until Aug. 7 to cast your vote. Advance voting is now open. It runs through noon on Aug. 6.
• I am 90 percent confident that tonight’s Lawrence City Commission meeting won’t last until Aug. 7. But the meeting could produce significant amounts of discussion, as commissioners are set to debate a nearly $12 million package of incentives for the approximately $40 million redevelopment proposal at Ninth and New Hampshire streets.
There will be plenty of numbers thrown around during that debate, but here’s a set of numbers about the area that is interesting on its own. The city has put together a new report that shows usage numbers for the city-owned parking garage in the 900 block of New Hampshire.
The summary is this: In 2006, the garage averaged 40 percent capacity on a weekday. Now, it averages 61 percent capacity. In 2007, the garage averaged 33 percent capacity on a Saturday. Now, it averages 53 percent capacity.
One of the interesting things about the proposed Ninth and New Hampshire redevelopment is it has caused us to go back and think about the decision made around the turn of the century (my land, that makes us sound old) to build the public parking garage in the 900 block of New Hampshire.
It mainly has been a lesson in the fickleness of projections. Back then, it was projected the construction of the parking garage would spur significant redevelopment of the 900 block of New Hampshire Street. So much so that new tax revenues from the new development would pay for 50 to 60 percent of the new parking garage.
Well, that clearly isn’t going to happen. The economy took a hit shortly after the garage was built, and much of the development didn’t occur.
But this look-back also is a good lesson in the need to pay attention to detail. When it was said back in 2000 that new tax revenues would pay for about 50 to 60 percent of the garage, there probably should have been an asterisk attached to that statement. What really was meant, I believe, is that new tax revenues would pay for about 50 to 60 percent of the construction costs of the garage. But that’s not the same as saying 50 to 60 percent of the costs of the project. That’s because the city debt-financed the garage, which means it must also pay interest costs.
When you add the interest costs into the equation, the city is scheduled to pay $14.5 million for the garage. At no point was it ever expected the development would generate enough new taxes to pay 50 percent of that number.
At one point, it was projected new development would add about $4 million to $5 million in new taxes that could be applied to the garage over a 20-year period. Thus far, new development has added something less than $500,000. But the amount is expected to grow significantly now that the new multistory apartment/office/retail building is on the tax roles at 901 N.H. That large building is expected to add another $1.7 million in property taxes between now and 2020, when the garage will be paid off. All told, development in the block will probably provide a little more than $3 million in new taxes that will help pay off the garage by 2020. That puts the new development much closer to paying for its share of the garage than what looked like would be the case a few years ago.
But if you want to relate any of this to the set of incentives commissioners will consider tonight, here’s an important point to remember: The city is not planning to issue any bonds related to the proposed Ninth and New Hampshire redevelopment. That means if the projections being used for this development don’t pan out, it will be the developer, not the city, who will have to eat the difference.