Archive for Wednesday, June 27, 2012

City allows Ninth, N.H. retail/hotel project to move forward

June 27, 2012

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This view of the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire, foreground center, looks to the northwest from the second floor of the Lawrence Arts Center. At right is the alley between New Hampshire Street at left and Rhode Island Street, not visible, to right. The City Commission was presented an appeal Tuesday night, related to a controversial multistory hotel/retail building at the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets. The city’s Historic Resources Commission had rejected the project, ruling that it would negatively affect the historic neighborhood immediately east of the site.

This view of the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire, foreground center, looks to the northwest from the second floor of the Lawrence Arts Center. At right is the alley between New Hampshire Street at left and Rhode Island Street, not visible, to right. The City Commission was presented an appeal Tuesday night, related to a controversial multistory hotel/retail building at the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets. The city’s Historic Resources Commission had rejected the project, ruling that it would negatively affect the historic neighborhood immediately east of the site.

City commissioners on a decisive 5-0 vote cleared the way for a multistory hotel and retail building to be built at Ninth and New Hampshire streets.

In a meeting that lasted until early this morning, commissioners said they believed there was no feasible and prudent alternative to the hotel project that had sparked concerns from a nearby neighborhood.

“Is there really someone out there who is going to write a check and make a different project here?” Mayor Bob Schumm asked of the lot that has been vacant for more than a decade. “I just don’t see them. I just don’t.”

Commissioners heard nearly an hour’s worth of public comment — both for and against — a proposal to build an approximately 90-room Marriott extended-stay hotel that also has first-floor retail space, a fifth-story rooftop restaurant and a below-ground parking garage at the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets.

Opponents of the project, which included many neighbors who live in the historic neighborhood just east of the proposed site, argued there are multiple residential, retail and office projects that could be built on the site that are smaller and less objectionable to the neighborhood.

“Can a reasonable person really conclude this is the only feasible and prudent option available for the corner?” Ron Schneider, a Lawrence attorney hired by neighbors, asked commissioners. “I would suggest that just on its face, common sense says of course not.”

Schneider said developers had not adequately studied the feasibility of condominiums on the site, and had not studied retail, office and apartment uses that would not require the construction of an expensive underground parking garage.

Members of the development group, which is led by Lawrence businessmen Doug Compton and Mike Treanor, argued they already have reduced the size of the building from its original proposed height of 79 feet at the corner of Ninth and New Hampshire to 63 feet. The portion of the building closest to the neighborhood is about 35 feet on average.

The development group also pointed to a city-sponsored study by an outside consulting group that a smaller, three-story building wasn’t financially feasible. The development team also said it was convinced providing parking for the site — even though not required by downtown zoning — is required to make any project feasible.

“Who is going to build 30,000 or 45,000 square feet of building downtown and not provide parking?” asked Dan Watkins, a Lawrence attorney for the developers. “The better question is, who is going to rent it?”

The project actually drew more members of the public who spoke in favor of the project than against it. About 10 members of the public urged commissioners to support the project, arguing the development would bring more visitors and spending to downtown.

“Lawrence has known since the 1980s that if downtown is to grow, it will have to be vertically,” said Joe Flannery, president of Weaver’s department store. “This is an opportunity we should not let pass us by.”

City commissioners were sitting in a quasi-judicial role on Tuesday to hear a formal appeal related to a denial of the project from the city’s Historic Resources Commission, which ruled the project would negatively affect the historic neighborhood to the east.

Commissioners were told by staff attorneys that to allow the project to move forward, they had to find there are no “feasible and prudent alternatives” to the proposed project.

Commissioners also were told their decision on the matter may not be the final one. The commission’s decision could be appealed to Douglas County District Court. Commissioners hired a court reporter to create a transcript of the meeting with the idea that future legal action may be coming.

Schneider was not immediately available after the meeting to comment on whether his clients would appeal the City Commission decision to District Court.

Members of the development team said they also didn't have a firm timeline for construction to begin on the project, given the potential legal challenge.

Comments

woodscolt 3 years, 1 month ago

"The development group also pointed to a city-sponsored study by an outside consulting group that a smaller, three-story building wasn’t financially feasible."

What a Joke. Does anyone believe an "outside consulting group" wasn't an "inside consulting group" working for compton and the city to achieve the results they both wanted.

Like I posted previously, the city commissioners wanted this project to move forward as much or more than comptons group. Thats why they will offer up as many tax dollars to this project as they can vote for. Just another case of the fox guarding the hen house.

Phillbert 3 years, 1 month ago

And I'll bet this project also won't be "financially feasible" without tax subsidies.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, guess we haven't caught a previous commissioner who was invested in a company she was working out sweet deals with and now training all our bright business leaders who only know one business model-build more buildings!

Oh and let's not forget one previous major still on the commission married into one of the big developers family.

woodscolt 3 years, 1 month ago

I do think that , of the consulting groups they could have spent tax dollars on, they were capable of selecting one that they believed would be more likely to take the numbers dougie gave them and arrive at the conclusion they all wanted.

It was a formality, thats why they used dougies numbers. Why didn't they hire a consulting group that did their own math? None of the other proposals got tax dollars to spend on a biased consulting group that would have given the results they desired.

optimist 3 years, 1 month ago

If the attorneys representing the opposition to this project thought the result of this report would have differed they would have hired their own outside consulting group to prepare a counter to the feasibility study. The only other reason they wouldn't have gotten their own would be incompetence. I don't think that was the case. The reasons to oppose this project were weak to begin with.

paulveer 3 years, 1 month ago

Because their pockets aren't as deep.

boxers_or_briefs 3 years, 1 month ago

I hope it'll have fake grass like the competition on the hill. I'd hate for him to be left behind in the Lawrence arms race.

KU_cynic 3 years, 1 month ago

Yeah right. So how about when I put new siding or a new roof on my house to maintain or increase its value the city doesn't rebate back to me the sustained/increased property taxes that my self-interested investment generates? Or how about when an existing hotel that the 9th&NH hotel will compete against invests in new interiors -- do they get a tax break on the "new" value?

It's just not fair that some of us -- as homeowners or businesses -- pay taxes on value that we create or maintain while a privileged few get separate and special treatment. That's the problem with TIF,

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

But, a collection of homeowners making smaller improvements adds up to plenty of new property taxes, new jobs, and money circulating in the economy.

And, other businesses that improve/expand also help the economy in similar ways.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 1 month ago

Yet the government does provide incentives for individual homeownership through the mortgage deductions on your federal taxes. And it's been a time honored tradition to take out a second for home improvements, with similar tax deductions. So while individual home owners receive one type of benefit, commercial owners receive another.
In theory, why should the government provide this type of home ownership incentives? Because someone at some time decided the benefits outweighed the pitfalls and that it was in the public interest. Maybe renters can cry foul, and we can give them some other benefit. But what happened yesterday was a benefit was given because it deemed to be in the public interest.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

The deductions only make sense for those that itemize, not for everybody.

And, I oppose them - I see no reason to use the tax code to help homeowners.

A possible tax deduction on a second mortgage taken out for home improvements is a far cry from the sort of incentives/abatements offered here. If the government gave me a 20 yr tax break on any increased value of my home, it would be more equivalent.

The point is clear, if you want to understand it - many people and businesses do things that result in more work, taxes, and improvements of our town without getting any sort of help from the government to do them.

However, we seem to reward the wealthy developers with those instead, claiming they're helping the economy, while ignoring the help to the economy given by homeowners who improve their homes, businesses who employ people, citizens who spend money in Lawrence, etc.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

I just had some folks clean, strip and paint our back deck - no government help given or sought. It resulted in work for the guys who did it, improved the value of our home, which will at some point result in higher tax revenue, etc.

Wouldn't it be in the public interest to give me a tax break for that?

Once you open the door, it's hard to know where to draw the line, and stop providing incentives - but, of course, we can't provide everybody with incentives, that would be silly, right?

jhawkinsf 3 years, 1 month ago

Actually, Jafs, save those receipts. Because if you sell your house for a profit, all those expenses can be written off the profit made. So, yes you are getting a tax benefit. And I'll also assume that while the federal government is offering that mortgage deduction, you're taking it, assuming it's in your best interests to do so. So even though you're opposed to them in principle, you're still taking them.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

It's highly unlikely that jafs could ever sell his house for enough profit that he'd be liable for capital gains taxes.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 1 month ago

From the long conversations Jafs has been involved in in this forum, I have the impression that's he's a DINK, dual income, no kids. If his marriage is long and prosperous, which I hope it is, that's just the type of situation where wealth can be accumulated well above what one might expect. From those conversations, I take it he's not a smoker, not a drinker, not a drug user and not a gambler. Not much in the way of vices. So wealth accumulation seems even more probable. Now how he spends his money, I have no idea and it's none of my business. But the point that I was making was that just because people such as the developer are getting tax breaks, tax breaks that Jafs doesn't believe are appropriate given his belief that they aren't needed, I was pointing out that individual home owners such as himself can and do get similar tax breaks.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

Thanks - you're mostly spot on!

But, we're not planning to live in our current house long enough to increase it's value up to where it would need to be to pay taxes on the proceeds from the sale.

I think it's something like $250,000 as the threshold, which means you have to make more than that in profits to pay taxes on them.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 1 month ago

When tax laws are written, especially on the federal level, you have to realize that there are going to be wide disparities. In Lawrence, if you spent $250,000, you could buy yourself a nice home. In San Francisco, you could purchase a deeded parking space to go along with your million dollar studio condo. So a relatively modest income earner in one part of the country might qualify for benefits that someone who lives a much grander lifestyle in another part of the country wouldn't come close to.

You say you don't itemize. But you could, if you chose to. It's out there. It's available to you. Your original complaint was that these developers were getting things an ordinary homeowner would not get. My point remains that there are similar breaks available to homeowners, whether or not you avail yourself of them.

BTW - I recall when I worked in social services, and I was single, I filled out the EZ tax forms. I even claimed zero dependents during the year and then claimed one when filing, guaranteeing a refund. It was pointed out to me that by doing so, I was giving the government an interest free loan. It wasn't in my best interests. I didn't care at that point. But what I couldn't do was then complain that the government was using me for an interest free loan. it was my choice. The same is true for you, Jafs. Whether or not you use the tax codes to your advantage, they are still there for you. You have the benefit, whether or not you choose to avail yourself of them. If others choose a path different from your own, but still legal, still within the rules, that should be equally fine.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

One must make a profit of $250K in order to pay taxes on it.

Then, if you happen to be in that situation, you can use certain deductions.

This is completely dissimilar from the abatement for 20 years of property taxes on improved properties.

My point is not to complain that there aren't similar programs for homeowners, it's simply to point it out - once you start justifying them because things help the economy, it's hard to figure out where to stop. Every time my wife and I go out to eat, it helps the economy.

If we were to offer breaks of various kinds for all activities that help the economy, we'd have to offer them to virtually everybody for many activities, which is obviously silly.

So, why offer them in certain situations but not in others?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

And even if you do surpass the threshold, if you reinvest those profits in a new residence (within a year, or so, I think) you still don't have to pay taxes.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 1 month ago

Just to summarize. There are lots of taxes on me that you don't have incurred on you. There are lots of deductions I can utilize that you can't. Because we are different people in different situations. Just because a developer is given one set of tax advantages that you're not given doesn't make it inherently unfair. It's the way taxing system has been set up.

I hope you remember, it's I who has often advocated for a flat tax, with zero deductions, something that would streamline our taxing system. Here again, we are trying to figure out how many apples equal an orange. If we had a streamlined income tax system, I think we would more clearly see how difficult that apple/orange question is and we avoid asking that question.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

The fact that the current system is set up the way it is in no way means it's a "fair" system - it's just the one we've got.

Your argument has been that these sorts of projects help the economy, and thus the city should subsidize them. That argument applies to much more than just these projects, so if we're using it, we should subsidize a lot more than them. But it obviously gets absurd to do that. So, why these projects again?

I'm generally not in favor of using the tax system to encourage or discourage behavior, so I'd probably agree on eliminating deductions. But a flat tax is inherently regressive, so I'm not sure about that one.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 1 month ago

This thread is getting crazy, so I'll reply at the end of the thread.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

Since we don't itemize deductions, we're not taking the mortgage interest deduction.

And, bozo is of course correct - one doesn't pay any taxes on the profit from selling a house until you get into very large numbers, and we won't be anywhere near there.

And, again, even if somebody was able to use the money they spent increasing the value of their homes to offset some of the profits, it wouldn't be equivalent to these programs.

I believe that commercial developments can do that on their projects as well, can't they?

If a developer puts a bunch of money into a project, and then sells it, their profits are calculated as the money they get minus the money they spent, right?

So, they get that break, which is only available for individuals on large profits, and also the other incentives.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

LarryNative, the facts are there, Lawrence has sprawled inefficiently out west requiring new schools, water plant, future new sewer plant, larger roads that need to be maintained then in the old part of town costing more money, and the city is struggling so exactly what went wrong with the more growth is the answer scenario?

optimist 3 years, 1 month ago

You also fail to understand how tax incentives generally work. There is no money coming from the tax payer. To avoid sprawl this development will be built vertically which creates parking issues. To avoid that the developer will construct off street parking under the building. The developer has asked for a reduction in taxes on the property over a period of time. Both sides benefit, jobs are created, hopefully more revenue will come to Lawrence ultimately increasing tax revenue. The city isn't losing anything here. The project will ultimately provide property tax revenue. This property has been vaccant for some time and if this project isn't built we won't have that property tax revenue anyway.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

The sprawl has already been created and an expensive burden on the tax payers of Lawrence. Fill it in first, you don't need four lane roads miles to houses sitting on mega lots wasting water, costing more for garbage service, snow removal, and general road maintenance but since we do fill it in! Tear down those failing strip malls and put in your hotel. Fill in between all the bizarre buildings sitting cockeyed to the street with weeds on their massive lots. Fill it in!

3 years, 1 month ago

What do you think the taxes on that property are going to be after this project? What kind of property taxes does an empty lot contribute to Lawrence. This project is going to create massive tax revenue increases with or without a limited time of tax breaks to help the developer pay the loan on the building of the project on top of the cost to run the business.

And the article states that more people showed up to the Commissioner meeting in support of the project. The opposition is just some grumpy neighbors who are afraid of a shadow. Why else is this not a development and improvement to Downtown? At least

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

"What do you think the taxes on that property are going to be after this project?"

If the tax breaks that are requested go through, for the next 20 years, they'll be the same as the empty lot is currently paying.

3 years, 1 month ago

What do you think the taxes on that property are going to be after this project? What kind of property taxes does an empty lot contribute to Lawrence. This project is going to create massive tax revenue increases with or without a limited time of tax breaks to help the developer pay the loan on the building of the project on top of the cost to run the business.

And the article states that more people showed up to the Commissioner meeting in support of the project. The opposition is just some grumpy neighbors who are afraid of a shadow. Why else is this not a development and improvement to Downtown? At least it's not another bar...

Bursting 3 years, 1 month ago

Oh there will be a bar, maybe multiple bars in the place... Oread.... duh...

muddfoot55 3 years, 1 month ago

If we as a city use our tax dollars to fund this project, do we get profit sharing?

dwendel 3 years, 1 month ago

What a completely horrible and ignorant thing to say. I don't live in that neighborhood, but I walked down the 900 - 1100 block of Rhode Island a few times in the last month. It's a beautiful street, with almost all of the houses and yards very well kept and improving. Those are some of the oldest houses in town, and it is clear that the residents in that area take a great deal of pride in keeping and restoring them. I would prefer to live in a neighborhood such as that than one of the west side generic blocks of mcmanchions. I would not be happy if I'd invested so much in improving my neighborhood and someone built a hotel in the backyard. And yes, it sure takes some "biggunz" to anonymously post mean-spirited ignorant scat on the internets. Way to go tough guy.

silver_slippers_glitter 3 years, 1 month ago

Go live in Overland Park; sounds like it's more your speed.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

The view in west Lawrence is ugly, nothing stopping it from being built along the miles of spawling boulevards out there. It would look grand along the empty green spaces the roads pass by or along the strip malls. Let them play in the area they created, downtown will be fine even with the empty lot without them.

asixbury 3 years, 1 month ago

West Lawrence ugly? Actually, the neighborhoods are quite beautiful; full of trees and vegetation. Makes for a very lovely stroll with my dogs. Jealousy, maybe, of their success? A few areas (and only a few) are generic, cookie-cutter houses, but most are custom-built and very nicely kept. More businesses downtown is better for everyone in Lawrence. Don't live next to downtown if you can't handle expansion.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

Odd that when people come to visit they don't ask to go visit west Lawrence. The houses for the most part out west are simply grotesque, trees or not. Walking on the massive sidewalk along 15th street is terrifying since it wasn't built in the ways that past urban designers understood, you don't leave the pedestrians vulnerable to the high speed driving on multi lane roads. These are all the basics of urban design, things mastered in the past and thrown out with west Lawrence developments which is why they are uninspiring and dismal and require a 54" TV just to tolerate living in such mind numbing areas.

asixbury 3 years, 1 month ago

When my family comes to visit, they are much more interested in cruising around the West side, because it is beautiful. My favorite area is the walking path off Inverness Drive. Absolute landscaping perfection. You must not travel in the areas I do.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

If it's so beautiful, the only thing that could make it better would be a few six- and seven-story hotels/apt complexes planted right next to it, right?

asixbury 3 years, 1 month ago

I know what you're trying to do. The difference is major between the two areas in question. One is downtown, among commerce and retail already. People that live next to downtown should expect progress and growth. Since developers cannot expand outward, they will expand up. The other area is completely residential.

salinalawrence 3 years, 1 month ago

hahaha, yeah, like what's the deal with poor people anyway, amirite?

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

But that is what all the development out west and south was said to do but look where we are now! You continue to promote the same agenda that cancer thrives on, growth, and eventually it consumes the host. If our economy grows because of developers the track record sure hasn't been too impressive.

CountyResident 3 years, 1 month ago

How much tax revenue did the building across the street create that was built with TIF monies. Several years ago, I heard the city had to put in $100,000. of taxpayer money to help pay off the bonds. I wonder if this is still going on today. If so, the taxpayers of Lawrence have contributed lots of dollars to this project. The City offiicials seem to keep this pretty hush, hush. Does anyone know?

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

The new TIF district was supposed to pay for the parking garage with the additional taxes and economic activity it generated, but failed to do so.

So, the city had to pay for about 1/2 of the cost out of tax revenue.

That's the problem with projections of future benefits - it's hard to accurately predict the future.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

The city should not be in the business of making up for bad business plans. If a hotel of a certain size isn't feasible then it shouldn't be built. Why is the city continue to give certain developers tax breaks while other hotels have to pay their fair share. And we are suppose to believe our city government isn't corrupt just because we don't have a newspaper willing to jeopardize advertising revenue to really investigate?

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

I agree completely.

Not sure why you're posting this to me, as if I might disagree.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

IF that was to me it is because of this jacked up comment section.

CountyResident 3 years, 1 month ago

Thanks you "jafs" for posting this information. I thought the city (us taxpayers) had to make up some short-fall.

Getaroom 3 years, 1 month ago

Shovel ready project. Dig baby, dig. The hotel to nowhere........

classclown 3 years, 1 month ago

I think I spotted an endangered lizard on that lot. And a prayer/medicine wheel.

There! That should keep the building from being built for at least the next 20 years.

No need to thank me all of you that oppose any development in this town. Just click the "like" button at the upper right corner of this comment. That's all the reward I need. I'm just glad I could help.

mysterytrain 3 years, 1 month ago

It's a disappointment that our town is satisfied with this, in the heart of downtown, and that we did not challenge ourselves to find or create a space/building that will be truly treasured, appreciated by the neighborhood as well, and that would lift Lawrence in a variety of ways. We could have done a lot better. Should have too.

COjayrocks 3 years, 1 month ago

You gonna pay for a different development?

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

I don't think anyone has been seriously disadvantaged by that lot? No one forced them to buy it. Compton sued the city when he thought the Walmart was appropriate use of the land out west, why is the city obligated to make this work for him when it is inappropriate for the neighborhood?

Voice0Reason 3 years, 1 month ago

That lot has been vacant for at least 10 years. How much more time is needed to “create a space/building that will be truly treasured”? Visitors to Lawrence only pay attention to Mass St. Nobody looks to the East or West, and all of the buildings on New Hampshire are new anyway. The composite looks like a nice building that will blend in well with its surroundings, and provide a needed service to downtown. It looks like a homerun-hit to me.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

Why the rush to develop this?

"The composite looks like a nice building that will blend in well with its surroundings,"

Huh? The only way you can come to that conclusion is to completely deny the existence of the adjacent block to the East-- but I have a feeling that you're very good at denial and willful ignorance.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

The bedroom community is dead and to continue building more living spaces here while not creating real jobs we will continue to chase our tail. The empty lot is not the cause of our budget problems but the sprawl out west that has burdened the city with expenses while people shop and work outside of town and for good reason, KC is only 40 minutes away, why would people shop here when the variety and pricing is better just down the road?

The so called business leadership in this town is not too impressive and revolves around real estate and developers, that's it, and if Lawrence continues to believe this town can survive building building when there are not enough jobs in town it will only get more dire.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

"If you are not growing, your (sic) dying" is a flawed mindset.

It leaves out the possibility of a sustainable situation, in which a town (or business) is doing fine economically, neither continually growing, nor dying.

In fact, growth comes with positive and negative attributes, and it's not at all clear that "bigger is better" to me.

Growth in Lawrence has generated more restaurants, and coffee shops, and some positives, but it's also changed the town in less positive ways, from my perspective.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

The sprawl was created by these developers who 20 years ago could cared less if they killed the downtown and since it didn't die and actually become popular they started buying it up, charging more rent, and trying to lure in big chains which are failing so now, for their purposes only, need to increase the people with money to shop in their high dollar stores. This part of town is dense enough, the infill needs to be out west. You pro growth fanatics who won't deal with the facts can't comprehend you are not going to compete with KC when we are only 40 minutes away. It isn't me saying this, these are the corporations you want to come here who won't unless they are given special perks which means they know, because they have lots of money to investigate this, that they would not make a profit here. These are facts!

Joe Adams 3 years, 1 month ago

I'm pretty sure that none of that is fact. It seemed like an awful lot of opinion and I respect opinion but let us not pretend it is fact. And by the way, it IS you saying it.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

If all the chains you all love so much aren't moving to Lawrence why do you think that is? Did corporations stop wanting to make profits if these are supposedly going to be so profitable if they were here?

Joe Adams 3 years, 1 month ago

Who ever said that I love chains? You make it sound like you are speaking for corporations. Do you work for one of these national chains? Do you get involved in the conversations they have with real estate developers and executives? I would imagine there are a LOT of decisions that are made when deciding to expand and Lawrence doesn't exactly have a reputation for being friendly to out of town big business. How long did it take Wal-Mart to get the new store built?

All I was pointing out was the fact that you claim you aren't the one saying things and that you are speaking the truth through your facts. None of what you are saying is fact, it is your opinion of why companies aren't coming to Lawrence. I respect your opinion and maybe you are right...but it is most certainly not something you should be declaring a fact. Even in your reply, you just ask a few more open questions that let me create some idea as to why corporations aren't coming here. Show me some proof and I'll listen but stop trying to make it about some conspiracy.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

These chains have already tried out Lawrence a bit and left and trust me, there are a lot more liberal towns (Lawrence is hardly liberal by the way) than Lawrence that still have the chain stores operating because they are in places where it makes money because they are not next door to large metropolitan areas. Chains are not here because it would be a bad business decision, not because of this baloney that Lawrence isn't friendly to them.

Joe Adams 3 years, 1 month ago

Oh give me a break. Wal-mart came, fought, built and is still here. Home Depot built a small store and is still here, same with Best Buy. I don't disagree that being close to KC does make it more difficult to locate business in Lawrence (chain or otherwise). It also doesn't help that Topeka has all the chains on the other side of Lawrence either. But that is not what my comment was about. Lawrence DOES make it more difficult for these stores to come in and build from scratch. How long did Wal-Mart fight for that NW store?

The thing that fascinates me is that in every reply, you have some comment that is telling me I have to trust you or take what you say as fact. All I've asked for is proof and you have yet to show one bit of it. Heck, you don't even bother to answer questions, you just pick a topic and run with it in your next post and tell us all how we should believe you because you know it to be.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

Get out and experience the world, you'll see Lawrence ain't nothing compared to real liberal towns with real hurdles for the chains and yet they still have them. People have been going on and on about a Lowe's, Red Lobster, etc for years and why don't they come here? Lowe's was in theory suppose to go out at Schwada's land to anchor that development but backed down because they thought it was too far out from town! What a load of baloney, people are driving to Topeka and KC all the time to shop at Lowe's! The other chains you mention except Walmart may be short lived as well. Look at all the developed retail in the last 20 years sitting unused or for lesser stores than what they originally were built. The restaurant out on Wakarusa is smart enough to just put a banner over the previous business awning since they will probably be short lived as well. This town is short on businesses that make things that a city needs in order to continue building more houses and retail.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

And the best this town could do is allow our favorite developer to build a warehouse miles out of town, not even in Lawrence where there is vacant land and create, what did they say, 3 new jobs?! Plastic cups, as disposable as the ideas from the business leadership.

Joe Adams 3 years, 1 month ago

"Get out and experience the world." Is that an interesting way to tell me that your opinion is what, a fact? Because you HAVE experienced the world? I've lived in other cities and towns for the majority of my life. Lawrence is definitely the smallest part of my life and for some reason, I still like this town and the people. I love the local stores and restaurants that I go to and spend my money. And amazingly, I enjoy spending money at Home Depot and other chains as well.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 3 years, 1 month ago

Many new business, both large and small, have chose not to build here due to things like the signage requirements. Try to get anything done that makes sense when you have to deal with governmental agencies.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

Funny how a brewery was started shortly after it became legal and the real draw to downtown along with Liberty Hall. Lots of towns have sign ordinances, shoot in Taos the buildings have to look adobe and yet they manage. Can we just accept that it was a terrible mistake making Lawrence a bedroom community and until real jobs are created here making real things it isn't going to get better?

Cant_have_it_both_ways 3 years, 1 month ago

Could it be for reasons like the sales tax to support the empT bus system?

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

Or could it be all the resources wasted to provide for all the emtSUVs?

Cant_have_it_both_ways 3 years, 1 month ago

People who drive emtSUV's pay for their own transportation, not like the moochers that demand some else pay for theirs.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

You ought to explore the delusion of private/public resources and the fact it doesn't take into consideration vastly larger sums of money to subsidize your so called private investment. We should look at the total costs for both systems and fund according to what benefits the public the most verse the car industry.

Nonsense 3 years, 1 month ago

Thank you commmissioners. This project needed to be done. As an Eastsider, I am glad to see my property value will go up. I am glad to see an opportunity for retail to come back to downtown. I am hopeful that this will help downtown thrive and not continue its slid toward being a bar district.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

Silly rabbit, downtown is being transformed into an upscale Aggieville, that is all it is, why do you think the developers who have invested so much of their money in the college sports scene are buying it up? It will be all bar scene and high dollar restaurants. Forget about groceries and a dime store.

COjayrocks 3 years, 1 month ago

Groceries? Dillons is in the middle of a massive renovation to their Mass St. location. Where else have we ever been able to buy groceries downtown, and if we don't allow residential growth downtown, who would need to buy groceries downtown anyway?? That is such a backwards argument.

Dime stores? Why in the world would we want these in what should be the highest valued real estate in town????

You can't have the best of both worlds. Downtowns all over the country evolve, let's make sure ours evolves for the better, not gets neglected where no one sees the value in reinvesting in downtown again. There are examples of neglect in downtowns all over KS, we should be excited.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

Exactly make sure it develops for the better which this isn't. The old part of town is already dense enough, it is out west where the extravagant sprawl is costing us our wallet. It is the car based system that removed shopping from downtown and according to this project plans the car will still be central to it all. This downtown was threatened by these jackals 20 years ago and now they are going to create downtown that works for them, not the city.

Sharon Nottingham 3 years, 1 month ago

walking to a grocery store seems way better than driving to one.

Voice0Reason 3 years, 1 month ago

Restaurants, bars, and variety stores are what draw people to thriving market places. If you were traveling to a college ball game or a class reunion, where would you rather stay? Next to a Dillion’s and a Dollar General or down town Mass?

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

Personally, I'd stay somewhere quieter than Mass St.

KU79 3 years, 1 month ago

It's hilarious to read the comments from the CAVE people on this site. Citizens Against Virtually Everything.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

It's funnier to see people who think people against creating more of the problems that has wrecked this town promoting the people who, by the looks of their homes, hardly need special TIF financing to do their deals but luckily for them Lawrence is full of sheep.

COjayrocks 3 years, 1 month ago

What entitles you to comment on people's financial situation based upon the appearance of their houses? Do you do that for people that live in "run-down" houses also? Since he has more money in his bank account you are entitled to money from the government and he is not because you feel he is "rich" enough. Give me a break. Uncle Sam: save ME money because HE already has enough, look at his house!!

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, amazing we give handouts to the same developer who sued the city over his Walmart deal and then to suggest he probably can do business deals based on size of his house. Gosh, how insensitive of me considering he will ruin the area for people living modestly near his grand but unsustainable building project. We need to be more sensitive our the super wealthy, I forgot, they have feeling too, just not for anyone who is in the path of their plans.

COjayrocks 3 years, 1 month ago

Litigation doesn't always happen like it does on Judge Judy. Sometimes issues are solved amicably and both sides have a reason to have the courts settle it. Walmart was inexplicably categorized by the city as a different use building to block it from being developed in that particular zoning district, you could see why that would make a developer upset, right? Besides, if it really was an issue don't you think the CITY would not have allowed this development?

I love the part where you say he will "ruin the area for people living modestly near his grand but unsustainable building project." Not only are you complaining about how much money he makes but you are trying to tell a successful business man how to spend it. Ha. I mean, he must be successful "by the looks of his home." I will allow him to decide what is and is not sustainable, sorry for the news.

By the way, my argument is not about sensitivity, it is about decency and courtesy. Even if you disagree with his professional practices doesn't mean that you are entitled to admonish his character anymore than someone would if they were on the opposite end of the financial spectrum.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

If he can't build it without tif funds and make it work with the historical and neighborhood people's criteria he should have never bought the land that now we are told must be developed. Why? It has been sitting there happily for years and what is costing this city is all the crap these same developers have brought us elsewhere in the city.

If the developer had any decency to consider others opinions in this town he may be worthy of your obvious love fest for them but there is no reason for it, this man and the others walk all over anybody with the money to fight him. The city stopped going after his Walmart deal because it was draining city resources. All their Chicago money is too much for little Lawrence to fight.

Your name isn't Hannah is it?

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

"I will allow him to decide what is and what is not sustainable".

If he weren't asking for a variety of assistance from the city, I would too.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

What a hilarious ignorant comment, nothing got done?! Don't you remember Wildgen was ran out of office because he wasn't putting in infrastructure fast enough during their time in office? People in Lawrence and delusional and nothing but a flock of ignorant sheep who push the same nonsense that is bringing them outsourced garbage collection and closed schools.

paulveer 3 years, 1 month ago

One of the best commissions ever. Thanks, Boog.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

The thing towns like Lawrence benefit from are the naturally developed creative businesses that are unique and not just the same thing you can get down the road. Waxman, Freestate, Wheatfields, the old J Hood, Footprints, etc these are the reasons someone would make a special trip to Lawrence, not for a smaller version of the chain store already available down the road.

COjayrocks 3 years, 1 month ago

I missed the part where business like those were not allowed to lease spaces in these new developments at 9th and NH.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

No, before they started buying buildings downtown for more than the market value (a curious thing that has never been explained) people could afford the rents.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

They may be "allowed" to, but probably won't be able to afford the rents.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

And they probably would have been allowed in a building that was one or two stories shorter, as well.

COjayrocks 3 years, 1 month ago

That's not my question. Is everyone's problem with this the developer or the project? Would 1 less story really, truly make a difference to everyone?

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

Something that fit comfortably into the area and didn't require tax breaks would be fine no matter who built it.

irvan moore 3 years, 1 month ago

i don't think there is anything unusual about a big development company getting its way, is it good? maybe, is ir bad? maybe, heck,i don't know. one thing to think of when comparing downtown lawrence to aggiville is that at least they were smart enought to keep the bar area seperate from the downtown retail

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

Is it good? Yea, for the developers. Is it bad? Yes again, for the neighborhood.

This city commission demonstrated that they see their main purpose as picking winners and losers, and in this instance, neighborhoods are definitely the losers (and they'll even get to pick up part of the tab for this behemoth.)

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

There is plenty of room over in the Compton compound for a multistory building and would help provide infill so let's propose he build it there, I'm sure he would have no problem with it since it is good enough for east Lawrence citizens.

akuna 3 years, 1 month ago

How is it bad for the neighborhood? It may be bad for the few houses that border the building in that their sunset will be obscured. I don't think it will have an adverse effect on property values. In fact, it may improve property values. I also doubt it will increase traffic in the neighborhoods that much, especially if they keep the residential streets bricked and narrow, Lexus SUVs can't hold up to the rough condition of those streets.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

So we price people out of their homes by increasing property tax rates. Already seen Lawrence play games like that in the past, rezoning existing homes to commercial property driving them out so we can things like a no longer existing Rex Electronics and Backyard Burger. That's Lawrence though, those who can't afford it can live out in the homeless shelter by the jail, don't want you here.

boxers_or_briefs 3 years, 1 month ago

I hope there will be a mexican restaurant in the lobby.

patkindle 3 years, 1 month ago

no supises here folks nothing to see just shut up pay your money and move on the city knows what is best for you

pizzapete 3 years, 1 month ago

Lawrence deserves better than this project. We do not need more apartments, downtown or elsewhere in our city at this time. And we sure as heck don't need apartments that don't pay their fair share of taxes for 20 years, apartments that drive our home values down, apartments that increase our collective property taxes. We don't need parments that only create short term job growth, apartments that drain additional resources from our city (ie. police, firefighters, etc.), apartments that don't bring more retail to downtown. Thanks for nothing Doug, an apartment building isn't going to get me or anyone else to shop more downtown or to pay your crazy retail prices.

bigd399 3 years, 1 month ago

You should go read the article again, it is for the Marriot which is a hotel not apartments. This will bring people visiting for say basketball or football games downtown to help increase sales in the downtown market. Which helps the small buisnesses that all of you are saying will die.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

And what about all the smaller hotels that have to pay their own way? Just saw screw them and let them continue to go out of business?

bigd399 3 years, 1 month ago

Give me two names of these smaller hotels that are going out of buisness.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

How many times have the hotels along 6th and Iowa changed hands?

bigd399 3 years, 1 month ago

Well the Hampton has been there well over 10 years, the one behind it longer than that. The econolodge or whatever it is has been there even longer and the one across the street from that last changed names what 6 years ago? I think they are doing fine.

Voice0Reason 3 years, 1 month ago

If the smaller hotels don't have a good buisiness model that keeps them in the black, they should go out of buisiness.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

The point is, if they're competing against a business that has an unfair advantage, it's hard for even a good business to succeed.

Voice0Reason 3 years, 1 month ago

I wasn't living in Lawrence when those hotels were built, but I would go out on a limb and say they probably received incentives from the city when they were built. So all and all it seems pretty fair to me.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

"but I would go out on a limb and say they probably received incentives from the city when they were built."

And that would be a mighty shaky limb-- but it allows you to pretend that there is something like fairness at play here.

pizzapete 3 years, 1 month ago

Bigd399, you're right, I did need to read this again. What happened to the apartment part of this deal? Is this place not going to have apartments? A hotel will bring in more shoppers, but also more congestion and other problems (drunks, fights, puke and the like) that will have me avoiding this area, especially on game days.

bigd399 3 years, 1 month ago

It might bring more congestion, but they don't have to build a parking garage based off of city ordenance (sp?) but they are putting one in below it so as not to take away from the parking that is already there. As for the puking and fights I have two opinions on that. 1) The Marriot is a little pricey for the ones that will be fighting and puking and 2) the frat boys do enough of that all ready.

COjayrocks 3 years, 1 month ago

drunks? fights? puke? whhaaatttt? A hotel will do this??

pizzapete 3 years, 1 month ago

Yes, game day drunks will continue drinking and linger downtown because they don't have to drive back to a hotel near the interstate. Another hotel or apartment downtown will encourage and enable this "party" atmosphere.

asixbury 3 years, 1 month ago

In your kind of logic, the downtown hotel prevents some drunk driving. Those people you mentioned would still drink, but now they won't have to drive.

boxers_or_briefs 3 years, 1 month ago

I wonder if apartments are feasible for the empty Masonic Temple building?

MarcoPogo 3 years, 1 month ago

Or, if you don't like the Lawrence Liberal Elite, you could pull up stakes and move to Valdosta, Georgia. :)

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

And, you should please consider moving to another country since you hate our current president so much.

Now, can we get back to a reasonable discussion of the issues?

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

Oh yeah, guess we need to keep living the fiction that Lawrence was founded by purchasing the land from those who lived here at the time. Funny how property rights only started about the time the white man took the land.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

An other delusion of yours that is wrong.

Voice0Reason 3 years, 1 month ago

The white man did kind of create the idea of property rights. Before we came along the warring tribes just killed who ever was living on thier part of "Mother Earth". I think our way is better.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

Only a loon comparing Lawrence to maybe another city in Kansas would think Lawrence is liberal.

CountyResident 3 years, 1 month ago

When the property owner receives Public Funding via special tax treatment from the taxpayers of Lawrence than the property rights should be extended to all the residents of Lawrence.

Carol Bowen 3 years, 1 month ago

The property rights of the neighbors were ignored. Read the development code. It's on the city's website.

jayhawkpath 3 years, 1 month ago

Its amazing how locals in Lawrence are opposed to something like this. I understand the basic premise that change is scary and the locals are afriad that the charm and beauty the city of Lawrence has to offer. However, in an economic situation that Lawrence, the state of Kansas, the United States and the globe, for that matter, are in, it is only reasonable to encourage new business opporitunities especially when there is unused space in an area where space is at a minimum. As cities across the country fight for new businesses to come to their town, as we see evident on the Kansas and Missouri border (e.i. TEVA Nueroscience, AMC Theaters...), Lawrence locals seem to be pushing away such new business out of personal preference and beliefs. Lawrence locals should support this business and any business who wants to come in and add to the local economy of the city. It is in the best interest of the community to support such building because it means a more attractive place for local businesses to operate.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

Guess you haven't read the comments: 1. Already have given these people all they want over the last 20+ years and yet we are in worse economic trouble then we have been in the past. Closing schools, selling out our garbage collection. It is proving to be a failed policy, can we learn from that? 2. There is plenty of land in the western parts of Lawrence where this could be built to provide infill, downtown is already the densest part of town, let's fill in other parts of town especially since they are costing us more money to support. 3. Business already operating in town should not have to compete against businesses getting special privileges! Is competition the bases for all the pro businesses people and that is based on sound business plans, not on tax gimmicks?

3 years, 1 month ago

You hit it on the head with #1. Lawrence is in economic trouble. People are going elsewhere to spend their money. So how does a city (that wants to spend boat-loads of money on art buildings and library projects and the like) obtain the tax revenue for these things if everyone sends their sales tax dollars to Topeka and KC? They bring people to bread and butter of local Lawrence business in downtown to introduce them to this area. You won't gain that purchasing base by putting the hotel somewhere else in town.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

And you also notice the cities that are being revitalized are cities that make things and have a more solid tax base. Lawrence is trying to survive on building buildings for people to stay in and retail stores (most that sell stuff you can get anywhere else).

FlintlockRifle 3 years, 1 month ago

Is this the same corner where a gas station use to live??? Contaminated ground has got to be there, and I also think ""Agnes '' moved there from the by-pass swamp.

Ken Hunt 3 years, 1 month ago

Density brings people and $ together. You need density to create that critical mass those under 35 want to work and live by. Build vertical, close to the street, with a diversity of housing, retail, and business.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

Unfortunately those young folks don't have any jobs downtown. KCMO is revitalizing their core but they have jobs downtown so it makes sense. This is all about party time that goes along with the money the developers have also put into the sports empires. It has nothing to do with the people who live downtown.

somedude20 3 years, 1 month ago

This is Mr. Bojangles and he is running for city council and I think he might win

Richard Heckler 3 years, 1 month ago

In 1980, Ronald Reagan asked the question — "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" David Cay Johnston - With fewer people having pension plans and health insurance, and more people in debt and filing for bankruptcy, the answer is largely — no.

But not for all. Many have flourished, and David Cay Johnston argues that in large part this has happened because the government has rewritten the rules to favor the rich, the politically connected and the politically powerful at the expense of everyone else.

The government is now in the business of wealth redistribution by virtue of reaching into the pockets of the poor and the middle class (or by allowing big business to do so) and funneling money to those with the political clout to have the law written to their advantage.

David Cay Johnston uses the "big box" stores as an example of how this is happening. The common myth is that Walmart can operate more efficiently than small stores by buying in large quantities, and that’s how they can afford to offer lower prices. But as Johnston says, that’s largely a crock. They are able to operate at a profit because they charge sales tax on items, and then put it in their pockets; they also profit by cutting deals whereby they pay no property tax. It’s called "tax increment financing." The schools, the police and fired departments, the parks and civic programs that used to get that money now don’t — and worse, local businesses can’t compete against these stores subsidized by their own communities. It’s lose-lose for the locals, but big wins for some of the richest people in the world.

As David Cay Johnston points out, a small community in the Poconos gave a $36 million dollar tax break to Cabellas to build the world’s largest sporting goods store — that’s $8,000 for every man, woman and child in the community, more than the entire city budget for over a decade. The theory is that people will drive from all around to get there, bringing money into the community.

He says that for the first three years that Cabellas was publicly traded, they reported profits of $222 million, but they made deals for $294 million in subsidies. They’re not in the business of selling goods, he argues — they’re in the business of soaking the public. They’re not increasing the pie, not competing in the market — they’re looking to the government to reach into your pocket and make them rich.

David Cay Johnston also says, amusingly enough, that such tax swindles are responsible for two-thirds of George W. Bush’s wealth, Mr. "lower taxes" himself. By getting a half cent sales tax increase to build a stadium for the Texas Rangers, which they were then able to buy at far less than cost, the value of the team when it sold which put the money in Bush’s pocket was largely the value of the stadium. He owes his fortune to corporate welfare.

http://firedoglake.com/2008/02/03/fdl-book-salon-welcome-david-cay-johnston/

optimist 3 years, 1 month ago

For those that oppose development here in Lawrence there are a number of towns in the western part of the state whose residents would much prefer growth to the slow deaths their towns are suffering. The "op-posers" could always move...

Scott Tichenor 3 years, 1 month ago

Glad to see it moving forward. Much of the concern, from experience with the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association, is that any infrastructure improvements in East Lawrence or any type of project that actually works in the favor of homeowners (like myself) will increase the value of our own property and property taxes. Much of the noise coming out of ELNA is from people who want property values to be depressed and to actually head in reverse... right into the hands of the Bonita Yoders. As a homeowner, I'm glad to see some of the city's money heading our direction a bit more vs. out west.

JackMcKee 3 years, 1 month ago

0-5? I hope Scnieder got paid up front.

I guess the hippies lose again.

With KUs enrollment about ready to drop 10% it's a good thing we are building all these apartments and hotels. People just can't get enough of the cheese and flour tortilla capital of the Midwest.

JackMcKee 3 years, 1 month ago

LJW, could you add an 'ignore' function to your website? I'm getting tired of getting 1/4 the way through one of Merrill's cut-n-pastes before realizing it's a Merrill post and skipping the rest.

Scott Tichenor 3 years, 1 month ago

Good suggestion. +1 and most people right or left would agree.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 1 month ago

It seems that taxpayers are starting out $11,000,000(million) in the hole on this project.

When will taxpayers ever see that money again?

pizzapete 3 years, 1 month ago

I'd just like to see Lawrence bring in more jobs that would allow an average Lawrence resident to afford the high prices that this hotel/restuarant/retail project is going to have to ask to survive downtown. It's kind of a shame that only a small group Lawrencians and out of town elite will have the money shop, eat, or book a room here. And it goes without saying that we shouldn't be using tax breaks to further prop up Doug's high rent property monopoly.

Voice0Reason 3 years, 1 month ago

At least this project will bring in new jobs. While no one is going to get rich working in hotel, restaurant, or retail jobs that will be created, it will provide some supplemental income for some and basic primary income for others. If that site were to be developed into office space there would be fewer jobs created, and could you image the amount public outcry there would be if any type manufacturing business were to try and build there. The current proposal creates far more jobs and revenue for the city than the vacant lot is providing.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

"At least this project will bring in new jobs."

Maybe. But just as likely it just transfers jobs from one hotel to another, costing taxpayers the price of the subsidies, and creating blight in the soon-to-be abandoned hotel(s), and turns the adjacent neighborhood into another student rental ghetto.

Kyle Chandler 3 years, 1 month ago

I heard Merrill and JackMckee were brother and sister and theyre father was Doug Compton. totally true

Richard Heckler 3 years, 1 month ago

"You should go read the article again, it is for the Marriot which is a hotel not apartments. This will bring people visiting for say basketball or football games downtown to help increase sales in the downtown market. Which helps the small buisnesses that all of you are saying will die."

Why are taxpayers being forced to contribute more than $11,000,000(million) to the project without the opportunity to vote either yes or no?

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

The is the $11 million dollar question. Why didn't the citizens get to vote on all the PLAY projects? Why don't we have a voice on the commission that is brought to us by all the money the development community provide them to saturate the town with their advertising?

It is time this town restructures the city commission so each area has a representative instead of what we have now.

bigd399 3 years, 1 month ago

You could have gone to the city council meeting. They are Tuesday nights. I'm sure you could have asked to be put on the agenda since you have such a strong opinion about it or you could hide behind your screen name and make comments here. It's up to you.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

The decision was unanimous even with people there and the historical commission giving it thumbs down. Let's not be ridiculous and pretend that the peons in Lawrence will be heard in the current system. We need to go to neighborhood representatives to have any voices heard other than the development communities.

JackMcKee 3 years, 1 month ago

No no, PizzaPete, you have it all wrong. There wil be great jobs cleaning rooms or washing dishes. You could apply for one of those 48 new police officer positions that we need to control the drunkards downtown. Don't you see how the whole town is the winner from this proposal?

JackMcKee 3 years, 1 month ago

And if you've ever been to The Ranch, one thing Doug Compton definitely knows about is high brow entertainment for mature and responsible people. This guy is an asset to the community. I mean he has attack zebras. How many people have attack zebras?

JackMcKee 3 years, 1 month ago

I sure hope this is an architectural masterpiece like the Tower of Terror. These are some people with class and style, people.

JackMcKee 3 years, 1 month ago

And there is nothing that says "I'm hungry for a buritto" like watching a bunch of fat 30 year olds on elipiticals. I would like to thank Doug for that experience, which I would have forever avoided if he hadn't built his mochie overpriced apartment building. You know where would have been fantastic for a health club? That old Masonic building with the boards over its entrance. Classy guy that Compton. I like it when he rolls up to football games in his limo. Pure class and style.

JackMcKee 3 years, 1 month ago

rockchalk, yes, exactly. My life would be complete if I just had an attack zebra.

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

Two recent examples of Lawrence getting it wrong- when they allowed the Oread (tax subsidized in an area that wasn't blighted) to be built taller than what the historical commission suggested they didn't require that the top floors be finished on the outside and instead, unlike most taller classic buildings, is left horribly barren, square openings with no architectural features used for years on tall buildings, especially one sitting in clear view for miles around. Instead we got four undisclosed cell towers.

The second was approving the false new urban development on 6th and Wakarusa. How many times do we have to be lied to by the so called leaders before we learn our lesson?

JackMcKee 3 years, 1 month ago

Nuts, Lawrence "leaders" give each other awards for lying. It's the accepted way of getting things done here.

Carol Bowen 3 years, 1 month ago

For the life of me, I do not understand why the first review went to the Historic Resources Commission. Will this project slip through zoning, fire and safety, and whatever else is required?

pizzapete 3 years, 1 month ago

Why is there no discussion of the nightclub and sports bar that this hotel project will need to compete with the Oread Hotel's "keep the drunks on the hill" campaign? Besides the added sales tax is Doug going to ask the city to close off New Hampshire on game days for a block party, too? How is another sports bar/nightclub and additonal retail space going to impact the existing bars and retail on Mass. street? Is there really enough of a need for this or are we just encouraging willy-nilly growth through tax breaks to wealthy developers?

NutsForKU 3 years, 1 month ago

The tax subsidized monopoly game. I am still blown away they were even able to screw the KU students by helping to pay for the lights that lead to the Oread Hotel. Good job student senate, guess you've padded your resumes nicely for jobs after school.

flyin_squirrel 3 years, 1 month ago

Glad to see the majority's voice was heard, rather than the voice of a few with nothing better to do than tell developers how to spend their money and keep downtown as the dieing "crown jewel" of Lawrence.

Congrats City Commission!

Carol Bowen 3 years, 1 month ago

It's ok to be pleased with the outcome, but it's not ok to claim its a majority point of view. It might be a majority among the people you know, but there was no community-wide vote. You would have more credibility claiming that you think it would upgrade the corner, and that the city is encouraging development.

windjammer 3 years, 1 month ago

Come on LJW give us a thumbs down. Been waiting forever for thumbs and for some reason you only give us thumbs up.

Brad Watson 3 years, 1 month ago

Flannery is right....get over it...its been a long time coming...I'm not a big Dougie Compton fan...I know his history...but life goes forward...it's called progress and we need it

jhawkinsf 3 years, 1 month ago

Jafs, - Thirty years ago, as an example, lawrence built some schools. Today, we're reaping the benefits of that in a variety of ways. The same is true for housing. The mortgage interest deductions that I spoke of earlier, whether or not you avail yourself of it, it's there. It was there thirty years ago and because it was there, it spurred the building of the house you now live in. Because it was known that homeowners could save thousands by itemizing, they felt confident enough to invest in the housing market back then. Back then, they hired carpenters and plumbers, electricians and laborers. Exactly as what is being proposed now. It spurred the economy then, and it will do it again. And just like the schools where we are now reaping the rewards, in twenty years when the tax abatements end, the citizens of Lawrence will reap the rewards. Jobs now, taxes later. We invested in you all those years ago, making your current housing a reality. And if we invest in business activity now, future residents will reap those rewards.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

Regardless, did it spur economic growth, or the housing bubble that burst, causing the collapse or the worldwide economy?

jhawkinsf 3 years, 1 month ago

Clearly, the mortgage deduction for homes has been one of the greatest things for the American economy. The housing bubble that burst did so for other reasons. Suppose I bought a house 20 years ago for $100,000. Unless that house got hit by a tornado, it's worth more that $100,000 now. That would be true if that house was in Lawrence, Las Vegas ( a big time boom or bust housing market), or anywhere else. What the mortgage deduction did was made it possible to accumulate wealth from an investment that would not have been possible. And of course, those houses didn't build themselves. They provided jobs for many. Imagine the alternative. Housing built by only those who could afford to pay for it now, without the benefits provided by the tax codes. You would have housing controlled by the very wealthy. They then set the market. We'd all be living in huge apartment complexes. Where have I seen that before? Oh, yea, Moscow. How's that working out?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

That was a wonderfully wordy but fact-free paragraph of assertion. Why didn't you label it as opinion rather than fact?

jhawkinsf 3 years, 1 month ago

Clearly, some of what I said is common sense. I don't have a source for the statement that on March 23, 1963 the sun rose in the East. That doesn't make my statement either fiction nor is it opinion. But if you think it came up in the West, make your case.

If you dispute what I have said, make your case.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

Assertions don't become "common sense" merely because you assert them.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 1 month ago

Which common sense assertion of mine are you disputing? The fact that the sun rose in the East on the date I mentioned or the one where I asserted that those who entered the housing market 20 years ago are ahead of the game.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

It would be interesting to compare actual costs of renting vs. owing during that time.

You'd have to include all of the costs of maintaining and repairing the home, as well as the extra costs of mortgage interest, etc. and then deduct the tax benefits.

I'm not at all sure that it wouldn't work out about evenly - renters can save the money for those home improvements and invest it in other ways.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

Although, of course, most landlords pass all of their costs onto their tenants.

It probably wouldn't work with singe family rentals, but might with apartments, I think.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 1 month ago

Of course, you're going to have to calculate the assumption that after the mortgage is paid off, we might live decades longer, essentially "rent free". I can't imagine taking out a 30 year mortgage at age 70, but doing so at age 35 sounds like a part of a very good retirement strategy.

Also, the equity built up gives the homeowner a great deal of financial flexibility. I might borrow against my home to start a business, creating business activity that translates into taxes for the government, while I still get the interest deduction. (essentially, I'm getting a business loan with all the advantages of a home loan).

There are more advantages, in my opinion, than the downside of hitting a housing bubble so severe that all long term strategies are negated.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

Could be.

Of course, these days, most people don't stay in one place that long, so they're not getting the benefits you describe.

It also limits mobility, if you have to do that in order to make your investment reasonable.

Renters have more freedom.

There are tradeoffs, in my opinion, and it's not clear that one or the other is better for everybody.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

Generally speaking, I think it's better to buy a home and think of it as a home, one you want to live in, rather than an investment.

That equity you build up doesn't really amount to much until the later years of the mortgage, you know, so I suppose if somebody wanted to wait until they're older to start a business, it might make sense.

But, if you use your equity earlier to start a business, you run the risk of property values declining, and being "underwater" as many people are right now, even it they didn't use their equity in that way.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

The idea that tax deductions for mortgage interest are necessary for people to have mortgages is flawed.

We could have mortgages without those deductions, and people who can't afford to buy houses outright could still buy them.

It "stimulated" the market, perhaps, encouraging more people to buy houses, but whether or not that's a good thing overall isn't that clear to me.

And, it would be very interesting to know how many people take advantage of that deduction and how many people don't do so.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 1 month ago

"The idea that tax deductions for mortgage interest are necessary for people to have mortgages is flawed" - I wouldn't say necessary, but it's helpful. It's a way of encouraging certain behaviors. In the same way higher taxes on cigarettes are designed to discourage certain behaviors. I know you're opposed to that philosophy, but surely you must realize that you're fighting an uphill battle there. To accommodate your philosophy, our entire taxing system would need to change from top to bottom at every level. The same is true for my flat tax ideas. It's an idea, one that won't be implemented in my lifetime. Neither will our tax codes be purged of the idea that some behaviors will be encouraged and some discouraged.

Frankly, Jafs, I'm trying to imagine why someone could avail themselves of the mortgage interest deduction and not use it. Last night, I went to Dillon's and bought dinner. I whipped out my card and got my small savings. Why wouldn't I. The only logical reason I can think of for not doing so is if the purchase was so small, the savings so small, that it wouldn't be worth my while to pull it out. Generally speaking, though, it's worth doing. The same is true for the mortgage interest deduction. Maybe, maybe, if on Dec. 31st. I won a hundred million dollar lottery, I might not claim it. Maybe, maybe, if I made my final house payment in January that by the time the following April came around, I might not bother. But generally, it's an offer of money from the government. Why not take it? But suppose the government didn't offer it. A substantial number of potential buyers would exclude themselves from the market. This housing bubble bursting we're in would deepen way beyond what we have now. New housing would collapse, and with that, jobs. Without getting too personal, I'd like to know under what circumstances you choose to not avail yourself of a legitimate tax deduction?

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

Because in order to get it, you have to itemize deductions, which is kind of a pain.

It's much easier to just take the standard deduction.

So, even if we might save a little bit more by itemizing, it might not be worth the hassle.

Encouraging home ownership, and viewing one's home as an investment, rather than a home, are part of the reasons we got into the bubble in the first place, I think.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 1 month ago

There are many ways to look at things, Jafs. This particular recession we've been in for the past few years has been the largest and deepest since the Great Depression. Those in the housing market, those in the stock market have lost significantly. That doesn't change the fact that long term investments in those areas have traditionally been some of the best investments we could make. Simply dismissing that type of investment is shortsighted. And while it's absolutely true that viewing our house as an investment rather than a home has been part of the reason for this bubble, it's also been probably the single most factor in the accumulation of wealth in America. That old saying that a house is the single biggest investment a person will make didn't come about out of thin air. It's as true as the bubble statement. But generally speaking, when we take out that traditional 30 year mortgage encourages us all to view things in the long term. Many years ago, I heard that with that type of mortgage, two thirds of what we ultimately pay goes to interest. (surely the type of mortgage and interest rates will change that). But if true, that's a lot of interest to be deducting from your taxes. That's a lot of encouragement the government is giving. And with that encouragement, comes changing behaviors, like owning which leads to building, which leads to wealth accumulation for you and jobs for the economy.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

Maybe.

But, even those who own homes for very short periods get the mortgage interest deduction, so it doesn't in and of itself encourage long term thinking, or investment.

I didn't "dismiss" anything, and I said "part" of the bubble.

One problem with thinking that "long term" investing is good, by the way, is that there's no way to know where the market will be when you need to start taking money out. So folks who've recently lost a lot in the stock, or housing, market who are retirement age will have significant difficulty, even if they planned well and have been in those markets for a long time.

I think the interest ratio is more like 1/1, actually - you pay about twice the actual cost of your house with a mortgage like that.

As I've said numerous times, I think that using tax codes to encourage/discourage behavior is a bad idea. Why is owning a home better than renting? Let people make decisions based on how the private sector works without so much government involvement.

Then the forces of competition, choice, and assuming risk will structure those decisions, all of which are good forces in many ways.

And, let the government do it's job of collecting tax revenue and spending it on programs in the common good.

It's all much simpler that way, don't you think?

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

Perhaps if the government didn't allow the mortgage interest deduction, and fewer people were willing to take out mortgages without it, banks would lower their interest rates until more folks got loans.

Then, we get lower rates, and more homeowners, without government involvement and manipulation.

And, if some people choose to rent instead, that's also fine, creating tenants for landlords, and helping the economy in that way.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 1 month ago

Surprising from you, Jafs, that you would encourage a system that would encourage a housing model that is far more regressive than the one we have now. Homeownership has traditionally been a model for wealth accumulation. To go the other way, to encourage renting would be to deny that wealth accumulation. And that wealth accumulation has happened mostly to the middle class.

Banks lowering interest rates is interesting but if as I mentioned earlier that two thirds of loans are interest, I wonder how low the interest rates would have to go before they would offset the benefits of the mortgage interest deductions?

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

I choose a system that isn't working to "encourage" or "discourage" activity.

Not everybody should own a home, that's clear to me.

It's the same thing as with developers, I see no reason to give breaks to those that own rather than rent.

Renters help the economy as well as owners.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

Schools are part of what a government should be in the business of providing, as part of their rightful scope.

I'm not at all sure you're right about my house - it's somewhat older than 30 years old. More like 50-60.

And, like I've said, people hire carpenters, etc. now without any tax abatements.

So now the argument is that future residents will benefit, rather than current ones? That's an interesting shift. We'll probably be gone long before that 20 year period is up - why should we subsidize these projects when we'll never reap the benefits?

Also, as I've pointed out, these sorts of projections are extremely unreliable, and I'm not interested in making a risky investment decision, the results of which won't be known for 20 years.

Ward 3 years, 1 month ago

Maybe they'll finally produce a decent, well proportioned design for this building. Or did the City settle for the jostled aglomerations that have already been presented?

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