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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

Ward 1 year, 9 months 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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jhawkinsf 1 year, 9 months 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.

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wats211 1 year, 9 months 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

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toe 1 year, 9 months ago

I hope the feasibility study included the higher health care costs.

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 9 months ago

The Experience Lawrence room is the best idea yet. Get a gift bag with a special ointment. Have your photo taken with the likes of HRC members and the five city commissioners who pick and choose who can build what?

Maybe even a photo signed by nonetheless Mr. Corliss, the city cheerleader.

A day in the Experience Lawrence room is worth the wait.

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uglyrumor 1 year, 9 months ago

Dear Mr. Compton,

Please build a six story building across the street from my house to block the flaming ball of hell that is the 100+ degree view of my sunset. It is like the surface of the sun out there.

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windjammer 1 year, 9 months ago

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

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flyin_squirrel 1 year, 9 months 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!

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pizzapete 1 year, 9 months 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?

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Carol Bowen 1 year, 9 months 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?

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JackMcKee 1 year, 9 months ago

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

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NutsForKU 1 year, 9 months 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?

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JackMcKee 1 year, 9 months ago

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

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JackMcKee 1 year, 9 months 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.

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JackMcKee 1 year, 9 months ago

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

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JackMcKee 1 year, 9 months 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?

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alcoholbliss 1 year, 9 months ago

"About 10 members of the public urged commissioners to support the project, arguing the development would bring more visitors and spending to downtown. "

Visitors spending money on gas to drive to Wyandotte County to spend money, is still spending money to these people.

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FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 9 months ago

Agreed McKee. This is an 'excellent' way to bring in the "Retirees" as well.

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JackMcKee 1 year, 9 months 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?

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 9 months 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?

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Kyle Chandler 1 year, 9 months ago

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

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pizzapete 1 year, 9 months 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.

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 9 months 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?

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JackMcKee 1 year, 9 months 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.

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JackMcKee 1 year, 9 months 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.

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nugget 1 year, 9 months 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.

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optimist 1 year, 9 months 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...

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 9 months 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/

2

somedude20 1 year, 9 months ago

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

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Ken Hunt 1 year, 9 months 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.

2

FlintlockRifle 1 year, 9 months 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.

0

Gotland 1 year, 9 months ago

This town gets too much easy government money to worry about the sector of the economy where money is earned.

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jayhawkpath 1 year, 9 months 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.

1

rockchalk1977 1 year, 9 months ago

No surprise Lawrence liberals are against property rights. Please consider a move to China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea or Vietnam to relieve the stress of this project.

1

boxers_or_briefs 1 year, 9 months ago

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

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pizzapete 1 year, 9 months 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.

6

patkindle 1 year, 9 months 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

2

boxers_or_briefs 1 year, 9 months ago

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

1

irvan moore 1 year, 9 months 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

0

NutsForKU 1 year, 9 months 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.

4

KU79 1 year, 9 months ago

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

4

Nonsense 1 year, 9 months 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.

2

NutsForKU 1 year, 9 months 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.

7

mysterytrain 1 year, 9 months 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.

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classclown 1 year, 9 months 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.

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Getaroom 1 year, 9 months ago

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

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FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 9 months ago

Put in an "Arts and Crafts" room to allow the 'emotionally distressed "bitter clinger" Genies to 'feel' better.

Their complex, yet nuanced 'emotional' state of mind is crucial to keep them from "clustering" in the streets with "candlelight vigils .

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Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 9 months ago

“Can a reasonable person really conclude this is the only feasible and prudent option available for the corner?” Ron Schneider.

Yes because it is the only option to develop the corner. Create jobs and tax revenue Build with TIF monies created by the project. Thank the developers for investing in this stagnant economic town and be happy.

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observant 1 year, 9 months ago

Seems the checks finally got delivered, snail mail is running slow these days.

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biggunz 1 year, 9 months ago

Sounds like most of you probably live in that dump of a neighborhood to the east. The real problem with this building being built there is the crappy view of the run down shacks and unkept properties.

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lunatic 1 year, 9 months ago

Thank you commissioners. Thank you Doug Compton and others for investing in our city. It's a great day!

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muddfoot55 1 year, 9 months ago

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

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Number_1_Grandma 1 year, 9 months ago

I ask you Mayor Schumm: “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.”

I hope that at least make these developers pay out of their own pockets for this development and not with taxpayers money. No TIF, no abatement of taxes. "Write a check" as you asked us to do if we wanted to change this project. Since it's not going to 'change'. At least have the developers write the check since they are getting their project. Just leave taxpayers out of this because we don't want or need this project!

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boxers_or_briefs 1 year, 9 months 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.

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woodscolt 1 year, 9 months 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.

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