Archive for Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Town Talk: Chicago-style restaurant and bar to open in former Bambino’s spot on south Mass.; Schumm frustrated with HRC; clock ticking on possible appeal of Ninth and N.H.

July 25, 2012


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News and notes from around town:

• I have never understood people who live in this area and root for the Chicago Cubs. I’m a proud Kansan, and that means the Kansas City Royals long have been bad enough for me. What’s next, folks? Pining for Chicago because Kansas isn’t windy enough?

However, I do understand how folks can get a hankering for good, traditional Chicago food. Chicago transplant Reggie Scott understands it too, and is set to open a new Chicago-themed restaurant and bar called Bottle of Blues. The establishment will be in the former Bambino's Italian restaurant location at 1801 Mass.

“Basically I just decided there was no place in town that was serving a decent beef sandwich,” Scott said of his decision to get into the restaurant business.

For those of you not conditioned in Chicago lingo (that is, those of you who actually understand what a World Series is), when Scott talks about a beef sandwich he really means an Italian beef sandwich. Surely you are familiar with that culinary creation: sliced beef in a garlic and oregano-based broth served on a flaky Italian-style roll with a sweet and hot pepper-based relish called giardiniera. (I’m pretty sure that’s actually Italian for the %$!!! Cubs lost again.)

Scott says the bread for an Italian beef is the key, and he has local M&M bakery making a special recipe to serve the restaurant. Scott also plans to feature an Italian sausage and something called a Maxwell Polish, which refers to a grilled Polish sausage served in a style often found along Chicago’s famed Maxwell Street.

“Maxwell Street was this like mile-long flea market in Chicago with great blues music and food,” Scott said. “You could find anything on Maxwell Street.” (Well, not Cubs World Series tickets.)

Scott also said he plans to try to recreate some of the blues scene as well. He said he plans to have live music on a semi-regular basis. He said the restaurant primarily will be geared toward neighborhood residents and blue collar folks, but he said he’s sure some of the many KU students who come from the Chicago area will find their way to the establishment as well.

Scott plans to be open by about the second week of August, which he hopes will be about the time the new Dillons across the street brings throngs of people to the area.

“That’s going to be like a block-long billboard,” Scott said. “Everybody is going to come to check that place out.”

• It wasn’t quite as spicy as a good Italian beef, but Mayor Bob Schumm did deliver some words at last night’s City Commission meeting that had a bit of a kick to them. They were directed at the city’s Historic Resources Commission.

Schumm made a new appointment to the Historic Resources Commission, appointing former Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commissioner Stan Rasmussen to the board.

Rasmussen’s appointment was drawing criticism from some members of the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods because Rasmussen previously had spoken in support of the proposed Ninth and New Hampshire project. Some neighborhood folks apparently thought that disqualified him from being a good Historic Resources commissioner, since the HRC had twice rejected that proposal on the grounds that it didn’t comply with historic environs guidelines.

Schumm obviously felt differently and minced few words when a neighborhood representative questioned him about the appointment.

“I’m a little unhappy with what I see coming out of the HRC,” Schumm said. “I was on the commission that created the HRC many years ago, and I said at the time I hope that it becomes an advocate for protecting our history but doesn’t become obstructionist.”

Schumm indicated on Tuesday that balance had become out of whack, and not just recently. He pointed to three major downtown projects that the HRC has denied: the Borders bookstore building, the Hobbs Taylor Loft building, and the Lawrence Arts Center. The City Commission ultimately set aside the HRC’s findings and allowed each of those projects to move forward, just as it did for the proposed Ninth and New Hampshire hotel/retail building.

“Those three projects are standing today, and I think they’re good projects,” Schumm said.

Schumm went on to say that he has found the HRC to be “extraordinarily strict” and that it becomes “almost impossible” to win approval for a major redevelopment in downtown.

Schumm said he was appointing Rasmussen to the board in hopes of providing a “broader” set of perspectives to the HRC. City commissioners approved the appointment on a 4-0 vote. Commissioner Aron Cromwell was absent from last night’s meeting.

It will be interesting to see if this is the end of the criticism of the HRC, or if there is more to come. It should be noted the multistory apartment/office/retail building at the southwest corner of Ninth and New Hampshire went through the HRC process fairly easily. So, it can be done. But the process the hotel/retail project has created concern among some in the development community. So much so, that I do hear people talking occasionally about how the city is not required to have a Historic Resources Commission. The state’s historic preservation office can conduct the reviews that currently are conducted by the HRC. But I haven’t heard serious discussion from commissioners about disbanding the local HRC. That would be a significant change because it would shift a major part of the city’s development process out of Lawrence City Hall and put it in the hands of Topeka bureaucrats.

• While we’re on the subject of the Ninth and New Hampshire hotel project, the clock is now ticking on whether neighbors will try to fight that project in Douglas County District Court.

Commissioners at last night’s meeting formally adopted a set of written “findings of fact” that spell out why commissioners ruled the project should be allowed to move forward.

Ron Schneider, an attorney for several neighbors who have opposed the project, said his clients now have 30 days to decide whether to file an appeal in Douglas County District Court.

Schneider said he didn’t have a sense of whether such an appeal would be forthcoming. Now that the city has put its reasons in writing, Schneider said he can review those findings and gather his clients to find out their wishes.

An appeal will take the opposition to a new level. A fight in Douglas County District Court will take some time and also some financial resources. It never has been entirely clear how many neighbors in East Lawrence have hired Schneider to represent them. When asked how many clients he represents in the matter, Schneider said it would best be described as a “handful.”

But Schneider said he also senses the amount of overall opposition to the project in East Lawrence has lessened as developers backed away from an original proposal that would have built the hotel a couple of stories taller than what is now proposed.

“I think there are some who have grown to support the project and others who have decided it is just not worth fighting,” Schneider said.

But, of course, it only takes one to file a lawsuit.


woodscolt 1 year, 9 months ago

“I’m a little unhappy with what I see coming out of the HRC,” Schumm said. “I was on the commission that created the HRC many years ago"scumm

and I expected it to rubber stamp everything I was in favor of just as our "outside source" groups we hire do.

By all means dismantle this group and that would be a great move for Lawrence's future or maybe you should just heed their advice, Scumm.


madatfacts 1 year, 9 months ago

First! to do an Italian beef you must first know how to make it! M&M bakery will be your only saving grace on that sandwich. just because your from Chicago and have eaten the food doesn't mean you know how to make it. Lawrence has enough of these kinds of restaurants, that have been around a lot longer then your place.Your idea at first was original and great.Now your frozen half assed food will be the end of your restaurant. I give you till the first of the year. I am so sick of people watching food network and deciding they can open a business not knowing the first thing about it. You know what you did was wrong! Good luck with your five "blue collar " friends eating and drinking. hope it pays your rent...


oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 9 months ago

Demolition by neglect? What is demoltion? Why can't a property owner tear down their own property? Would Mr. Schumm answer that? It should be pretty simple? Why is Lyn Zollner in th real estate business advising interested parties who come to Lawrence to consider other sites for a project instead of the site the Interested party wants?

Milos Forman spoke of his communist country and he was right> Nurse Ratchet would have been a fitting leader, as Lawrence is being govenned Nurse Ratchet style. She tells you how many people can live in your property, she tells you what it can be used for even though when you bought it it was usable for a different use than present. She tells you what size of trash can you will use. She tells you how much you will pay for "fees" established by the mental hospital.

We have Nurse Ratchet at City Hall and thus far the only person to benefit is Tom Fritzel and his not for profit foundation that is going to fleece the taxpayers of Lawrence for 20 years and then will then own a run down building. When is the next injection coming from Nurse Ratchet? Will she even let us sleep at peace at night without worrrying what is coming from her 6 E 6th Street office. And on top of that, her orderly, Mr. Hugh Carter is now in cohorts with one Jane Tuttle at KU to have distributed packets of information only to Oread Residents about Social Behavior. Is Mr. Carter really believing that a packet of information will change behavior? Not likely, anymore than KU's online short course about binge drinking which students are to complete after the death at a frat house brought the issue forward.

It's all for show and there is no way to enforce it, unless maybe Mr. Carter and Ms. Tuttle would on a Saturday morning or Sunday morning take one Mr. Jimenez with them to issue citations for litter. Now that won't happen.

In the meanitime I am glad to know that Nurse Ratchet is "born again" and thrives at City Hall with some of the most asinine ideas being promoted around town.


Aimee Polson 1 year, 9 months ago

Just to get my 2-cents in. I don't disagree with Bob. I like in-fill development when it's done well. The Border's building is horrible whether or not it's vacant. And I actually like the Lawrence Arts Center. Apparently I am one of the very few who do. I don't think it undermines a historic district to construct a well built and designed, contemporary building in its midst. Making it look as though it was designed in 1890 does not make it better, and often makes it boring. The entire development across from Free State is also, in my opinion, bland and cheap looking. If architecture's only purpose was function, buildings could be designed by engineers and construction workers.

As to the height issues and stair-stepping into surrounding neighborhoods. Lawrence has the shortest buildings in this state for a city of its size. Pittsburg, KS looks like the land of skyscrapers compared to Lawrence. It's pretty hard to stair-step when everything's so short.


Richard Heckler 1 year, 9 months ago

I am not a meat eater however it would seem if the food is excellent and not rhetoric that new joint should do good. Not much in that exact area of Lawrence.

More blues music is family friendly however that does not mean the children will necessarily agree. They often times are exploring different sounds with some enjoyment as they blaze new trails.

If the food is not excellent and the place becomes just another bar that might not go over so well. Might meet the same end the sex toy operation met. Beware.


Richard Heckler 1 year, 9 months ago

"Schumm went on to say that he has found the HRC to be “extraordinarily strict” and that it becomes “almost impossible” to win approval for a major redevelopment in downtown. "

The HRC is good for taxpayers. Tax incentives/corporate welfare for the local 1% by the 1% are creating a vast tax dollar money hole for the community. Bedroom communities are in and of themselves tax dollar money holes so I've learned. These massive tax dollar handouts of the past 24 months are creating tax dollar money holes equaling volcanic craters.

The HRC is merely enforcing the guidelines set forth by Bob Schumm it appears. Have no fear this commission is no doubt prepared to make the HRC just another formality aka facade.

Let's be real. Old East Lawrence has been quite business friendly over the past 30 years being open to mixed uses absolutely.

More business friendly than our over loaded retail markets on top of the tax dollar heavy bedroom community = economic displacement extreme.


oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 9 months ago

Mr schumm should understand that the problems extend way beyond HRC. And most start in Scott mccullough's office ago back to 2006 yes 6 years ago when a vast majorities of got down zoned. And schumm and the present commissioners have screwed over many owners, ran off money and still do not have the guts to do anything. Lyn Zollner is of no help either. Lawrence has its own Nurse Ratchet And the office is at City Hall.


cozborn 1 year, 9 months ago

I usually read your whole article and rarely offer comment on it, usually reserving that for a fellow commenter . I do not root for the cubs and I understand why people do or don't.. I just do not understand why you qualify your opine of rooting for a team from Missouri, by saying you are a proud Kansan.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 9 months ago

I'll bet that the housing stock of E. Lawrence will be quite valued in 50 years, while this poorly built hotel/apt. complex will be a run-down brothel.


auntmimi210 1 year, 9 months ago

"He said the restaurant primarily will be geared toward neighborhood residents and blue collar folks..." What the heck? Well, I am neither, nor am I a student from Chicago, so I guess he doesn't want my $$. What a weird comment to make.


g_rock 1 year, 9 months ago

I need some dude from Chicago to take care of a coworker that broke my office chair and didn't apologize and pretended that it didn't happen..........


woodscolt 1 year, 9 months ago

"the Borders bookstore building, the Hobbs Taylor Loft building, and the Lawrence Arts Center."

Well of the three, the only one that tried to fit in a little was the Hobbs Taylor Loft building. Borders is hideous only to be outdone by the art center which looks more like a detention center than any thing representing art. I always thought the city built the art center to look like a jail so it could be converted if they couldn't pay their bank note, But nonetheless, Scumm is just upset because not everyone is crumbling like he is to a project that is not feasible. Scumm sees no problem caving into 12 million dollars worth of incentives even though the city doesn't have the 12 million to donate. There used to be a day when a building could be built for 12 million.


Carol Bowen 1 year, 9 months ago

I do not have a problem with development in older areas. I do have problems with the following:

  1. Deliberate disregard of development and safety codes that are pretty standard, nothing special.
  2. Leaving enforcement of those codes up to a neighborhood association.
  3. Assuring a profit making venture to a developer through incentives. The city has not had successful business ventures and should stay out of them. Put grass on the vacant lot until a self sufficient plan surfaces.

Why would anyone want the city to arbitrarily ignore its own ordinances?

LarryNative, I'll bet your out of town investments were within development codes for their zones. We have some similar development in Lawrence, CVS and the old KMart property, for example. No noise. They built within the development code.


scaramouchepart2 1 year, 9 months ago

The HRC has to follow a very close set of rules no matter what the Mayor thinks. Which they did. As for Stan Rasmussen. It would have been nice if he had read any of the Planning Commission packets and had not wasted so much time asking questions that were in the packet. He was an easily counted vote before the meeting started.


Steve Jacob 1 year, 9 months ago

Maybe the HRC was right on Boarders? A big empty downtown building is an eye sour to me.


bniccole 1 year, 9 months ago

Wayne & Larrys has an amazing italian beef sandwich! this guy should try it if he hasn't already :)


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 9 months ago

Schumm's just reverting to his earlier persona as rubber-stamp for developers.

He campaigned last time around as someone who respected the interests of neighborhoods. He's nothing but a hypocrite and a sellout.


CWGOKU 1 year, 9 months ago

"Chicago-style? You have to slip somebody an enevelope filled with unmarked bills to get a table?" snap

And then they shoot you, gang land style. But the food is great.


Flap Doodle 1 year, 9 months ago

Chicago-style? You have to slip somebody an enevelope filled with unmarked bills to get a table?


Ricky_Vaughn 1 year, 9 months ago

Dead on about the Cubs. Sure the Royals are losers, but the Cubs have turned it into an art form losing for almost a solid century.


Dan Alexander 1 year, 9 months ago

Man, they just need to do the sauce on top deep dish we had back in college at Pequod's, really excited for this Chi Town Restaurant/Blues Bar


CWGOKU 1 year, 9 months ago

Heading to Chicago on Friday... I'll try some of that cuisine


JackMcKee 1 year, 9 months ago

Wayne and Larry's has a pretty decent hot beef, and they don't mince on Sprite.


Patricia Davis 1 year, 9 months ago

With all of the hoops that Borders was forced to go through because of its proximity to historica downtown Lawrence, how in the hell do we get an Arts Center that looks like a late 1950's gym?


somebodynew 1 year, 9 months ago

I had a friend of mine who is in architecure/engineering tell me once, that some people just don't get that old does not neccessarily equal historic. And that this city is full of those people (particularly on the HRC).

Over the years, I have found him to be more correct than I cared to believe at the time he told me that. And we wonder why we have a problem with 'demolish thru neglect'. Who would want to try to save anything ??


kugrad 1 year, 9 months ago

I'm stoked that a new restaurant will be at that location. It's about time something interesting opened there.

I like historic preservation, but guess what, so does Mr. Schumm. I also don't have a problem with new development downtown. I want a thriving downtown, and that requires investment from time to time. There is nothing historic about an empty lot.


dncinnanc 1 year, 9 months ago

If Reggie can do an authentic Chicago style pizza, I'd be a happy girl!


Andini 1 year, 9 months ago

I hope they'll be serving Chicago Style hot dogs and Old Style Beer too.


Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 9 months ago

Schumm is 100% correct. If you have never put a project in front of HRC, you really have no idea what it is like. I have put four projects in front of HRC over the last 8 years. The first three were approved after six weeks of total b.s. and all required me to get to the end of my rope and start complaining to hire ups. The fourth project I submitted was very small, only a $25,000 project on an existing structure. After four weeks of the exact same b.s., I asked myself why do I put myself through this aggrevation when I have out of state businesses that I could apply the funds towards. I pulled the project and put the money in an out of state venture where I submitted plans and had a permit to build in two weeks, also in historic environs. I don't know how developers can put up with the nonsense in this town. Secretly I would love for all the developers and business owners to close shop and watch this town blow away in the dust and the haters can live in their shanty's wallowing in the dust bowl and claim victory.


MarcoPogo 1 year, 9 months ago

Why don't they just go for broke and have the SLT come all the way up to the front door of the hotel at 9th and New Hampshire?


salinalawrence 1 year, 9 months ago

cheese and rice, Chad, take a chill pill, it's just a restaurant.


Boston_Charley 1 year, 9 months ago

There is no state HRC.

Are Topeka bureaucrats worse than Lawrence bureaucrats?


MattressMan 1 year, 9 months ago

Hysteric Resource Commission, now that's a laugh.


flyin_squirrel 1 year, 9 months ago

Schumm is right, the HRC has become an "obstructionist" and I wish they would entertain getting rid of the Lawrence HRC and using the state HRC. It would save the city money on something the state already offers.


Hooligan_016 1 year, 9 months ago

Can I get that sandwich swimming in au jus?

/al's beef //dripping goodness


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