News and notes from around town:
• The Bauer Farm development near Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive continues to fill up. Plans have been filed at Lawrence City Hall for Discount Tire to build a new store in the development.
Discount Tire — in case you are not familiar with them, they sell tires — has plans to build a 7,000-square-foot store/shop on the vacant lot that is just west of Taco Bell and just east of the building that houses Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt, Burgers by Biggs and a few other businesses.
I’m not certain, but I believe this will be Discount Tires’ first location in Kansas. According to its website, the company — which bills itself as America’s largest independent tire dealer — doesn’t have any stores in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska or several other Upper Plains states. This will be at least the second new tire chain to come to Lawrence in the last year, and both of them have located out on West Sixth Street. Big O Tires set up shop in a former Goodyear location basically across the street from Discount Tires' new location. So, let the tire wars begin.
As for what else is going on in the Bauer Farm development, work has begun on the new 300-seat Theatre Lawrence facility that is near the center of the development.
We also reported in January that plans were filed at City Hall for a 4,600-square-foot building on the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Champion Lane, which is just west of the new Burger King. The building would have space for three retailers, but a drive-through Starbucks was anticipated to be its anchor. I owe you an update on that project because we originally said the project should be completed by late summer. Since I routinely see outdoor items spontaneously combusting, I believe we’re approaching that late summer period.
If you are a caffeine fan, that whole stretch of Sixth Street will be one to keep an eye on. We also have reported a drive-through coffee retailer is slated to be one of four businesses to locate in a 10,000-square-foot building at the southeast corner of Sixth and Congressional streets, which is across the street from Wal-Mart. That development is working its way through City Hall, but has won its major approvals.
• A development that found it would be hard-pressed to win approval is a plan we previously reported on for a small neighborhood shopping center at the northwest corner of Sixth and Congressional.
As we reported in late June, developers are seeking to do something different with a large site west of Wal-Mart that had been considered a location for a Lowe’s store. At that time, the new plan called for the 11-acre site primarily to be used for a new apartment development, but about an acre right on the corner would be used for a neighborhood commercial center.
Well, Lawrence architect Paul Werner has confirmed to me the plans for the retail have been scrapped. That decision came after the city’s planning staff took a firm position that retail development shouldn’t happen on property west of Congressional Drive. Mayor Bob Schumm recently said he no longer would be supportive of retail projects that sought to build near Wal-Mart on the west side of Congressional Drive.
Planners have expressed concern that if retail development is allowed west of Congressional it will create pressure for retail to line all of West Street between Wakarusa and the South Lawrence Trafficway.
Schumm recently threw another twist into the equation by saying with the city contemplating major improvements to the Sixth Street and SLT interchange — the proposed site for a new recreation complex — the city shouldn’t be zoning new retail lots in the northwest part of the city. Instead, future retail should be encouraged to locate at the Sixth and SLT interchange, which already has a significant amount of ground zoned for retail, and is expected to get more if the recreation center idea advances.
As for the little one acre at Sixth and Congressional, Werner tells me it will be used for apartments.
• One area where retail development is welcome is near 17th and Massachusetts streets. Dillons is putting the final touches on its new store at the location, and it is starting to gear up for a grand opening — which I believe will begin on or near Aug. 12.
The company has posted a video on its Facebook page giving people a sneak peek at what to expect inside the store. I’m not sure the video footage is actually of the new Lawrence store, since it shows fully stocked salad bars, meat cases and most importantly donuts. . . . Oh, pardon me, I was thinking of donuts.
Anyway, click here to get a feel for what the store will look like, and to be reminded of its many features including a Starbucks, a Chinese deli, artisan cheeses, a drive-through pharmacy and many other features that quite frankly I didn’t comprehend on the video because I was still stuck on the donuts.