Archive for Friday, March 9, 2012

Town Talk: Clothing resale store opens near Hy-Vee on Sixth; a story of old Packards at 11th and Rhode Island; one-bedroom apartments planned near KU

March 9, 2012


News and notes from around town:

• It is still cool to look hip (or maybe it is still hip to look cool. … I get confused), but now it is also OK to try to save a little money doing so. Stores that resell “gently used” brand-name clothing have become a retail trend, and the idea is expanding in West Lawrence.

Ditto, a store that sells a variety of used brand name clothes, opened earlier this week in the Hy-Vee shopping center at Sixth Street and Monterey Way. The store is at least the second such used clothing retailer in West Lawrence — Plato’s Closet operates next to the Hy-Vee on Clinton Parkway. Ditto owner Toni Ortiz said Lawrence is the type of town where clothing resellers can do well. Part of the reason is exactly what you would think: Lots and lots of college kids go through lots and lots of clothing styles. And lots and lots of college kids need beer money, and thus are willing to sell some of their lots and lots of clothes to get beer money. (I do not remember this trend being around when I was in college. If I knew back then I could convert a shirt into beer … well, maybe it is good I didn’t know).

But there is also another reason behind the popularity of such stores — the environment. Ortiz said college kids and teens in particular have caught on to the idea that reusing an item is actually more environmentally friendly than recycling. College students and teens have been the traditional market of a lot of these places, but Ortiz said Ditto is trying to broaden the appeal. In addition to having a large selection of women’s clothing, the store also will have a men’s department, a vintage clothing area, plus-sizes, and maternity clothes. The store also will sell accessories such as purses, belts, shoes, scarves and jewelry. Most items sell for about 50 percent of what their retail prices were when they were new.

The store — which does have three sister stores in Kansas City operated by independent owners — also operates on a slightly different business model from some resellers. Some such stores operate on a consignment basis, where you don’t get paid for your used clothes until they sell. Ditto, however, doesn’t use the consignment model. Instead, it just buys the clothes outright, as long as they meet their guidelines.

The guidelines are important, Ortiz said. The store generally only buys clothes that are less than 24 months old, and the condition, of course, is important. But so too is the brand name. The store lists several of its favorite designer names to buy including: Coach, Gucci, Prada, Armani, Vera Wang, and Versace.

Wow, who knew my wife’s closet had so much beer in it?

• Some women collect clothes, some men collect cars. For those men who like cars, one of the more interesting pieces of property in Lawrence is at 1106 R.I., just east of the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center.

The property has a deteriorating old house, which unfortunately isn’t too unique in some neighborhoods of Lawrence. But what is in the overgrown, semi-fenced in backyard of the property is interesting. The property stores 15 old Packard vehicles. If you look closely as you drive by the property you can see an old garage that has a sign on it that says University Motors. Click here to see some photos.

The estate of Raymond Barland owns the Rhode Island Street property. According to a 2004 obituary for Raymond Barland, he and his brothers Delmar and Leroy started University Motors in 1947, and it served as the city’s Packard dealership for many years. It looks like the business lasted longer than the Packard did, closing in the late 1960s. (The Packard line of automobiles ceased in the mid 1950s, I believe.) I’m not sure if the dealership every operated from the 11th and Rhode Island site or not. Some listings on the Internet indicated University Motors operated in the 700 block of New Hampshire Street from the late ’40s to the early ’60s. I don’t know if it ever officially moved to 11th and Rhode Island or not, but some cars certainly did. I tried to do a story on the old dealership and the stash of Packards a couple of years ago, but as I recall, the family was not interested in chatting.

Well, it looks like the property will indeed be in the news now. The city has started the process of declaring the structures on the property unsafe and ordering their removal. That also would include the old Packards. The city at its meeting on Tuesday will set a date of May 15 to hold a public hearing on whether the structures and vehicles shall be removed.

It will be interesting to see if the cache of vehicles draws any interest from Packard collectors looking for parts or projects. Anyway, it looks like the days of the old Packards at 11th and Rhode Island are numbered.

• Speaking of numbers, "1" seems to be an important one in the Lawrence apartment industry these days. As we’ve reported before, the idea of single-bedroom apartments seems to be a bit of a trend in the Lawrence apartment industry. Builder Tim Stultz built an entire complex of one-bedroom apartments near Clinton Parkway and Crossgate Drive, and had plans to expand the complex until it ran into opposition from neighbors and City Hall.

But Stultz has filed a plan to rezone a piece of property closer to KU to house one-bedroom apartments. The paperwork has been filed for a rezoning at 0 Sigma Nu Place, which is a bit south and west of Ninth and Emery. The roughly 2.5 acre piece of property is at the southwest corner of the Sigma Nu Place cul-de-sac, and is undeveloped.

The property currently is zoned to house a fraternity or sorority house. Stultz is seeking to have it rezoned for FM 32 multi-family use. The plans I saw didn’t indicated how many apartment units are proposed, but stated the “apartments will consist of one-bedroom units and will be primarily marketed to upperclassmen and graduate students.”

Look for that development request to work its way through the Planning Commission and City Commission in the next several weeks.


irvan moore 5 years, 10 months ago

so the city doesn't think this is a "historic" site that should be preserved

gsxr600 5 years, 10 months ago

I'm sure upperclassmen and grad students would love to live next to a bunch of loud, drunk freshmen fratters. Great idea!

asixbury 5 years, 10 months ago

It would have been nice living that close to the school while my husband was in grad school. He practically lived at KU while attending and would not have really noticed the students, even on the weekends. I would have, however. The other places available that close were either too expensive or too trashy.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 10 months ago

The more new bedrooms the more empty bedrooms elsewhere in the city. This is what cost taxpayers money and lots of it.

All of these new bedrooms no matter if they are "infill" or whatever are becoming overfill. These new locations are simply pulling tenants from existing bedrooms thereby no net gain in local economic growth.

ANDDDDDD we cannot assume that these property owners are paying their taxes on time if ever. Please keep this in mind.

Single family neighborhood dwellings with live in owners are likely the most responsible taxpayers in this community.

For some reason rental operations sometimes don't pay in full,don't pay at all unless it becomes public knowledge or perhaps just don't pay.

tomatogrower 5 years, 10 months ago

Well, if laissez faire capitalism really worked, the more empty apartments would mean the rent would go down. Supply and demand. Funny how that doesn't always work.

Bob Forer 5 years, 10 months ago

Forgot to mention Vintage Van, which is located in the loft in the Antique Bazaars building on Mass. Lots of neat vintage and antique clothing, mostly for women.

Mike Myers 5 years, 10 months ago

What the Barland estate has done with that property is criminal on so many levels. If the City of Lawrence brings a buldozer and pushes the structures over then they would be even more guilty. Those structures are part and parcel of a treasured National Historic District. For heaven's sake Barlands, let it go to someone who cares. Clearly you don't care about your own family heritage. There are other community members who do.

headdoctor 5 years, 10 months ago

Who knows but the Barland family wouldn't be the first to just let property waste away. It is their property but it does seem odd when people wont do anything with it or sell it. They want to keep ownership but end up losing it all.

FlintlockRifle 5 years, 10 months ago

I remember the old Packard Dealership and yes it was just around the corner of 7th street and New Hampshire on west side of the street, Just a small building and had a small show room, with maybe one to two car. Ray was the main man I think, seems like he was always around there. Across the street to the east was the Parker Buick Dealership, (old Bordeir Book Store) which had a gas station under the northwest corner of the building, sold Standard Oil products

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 10 months ago

A bit of info on the Packard automobile:

The last Packard was built in 1958. As of 1995, Roy and Barbara Gullickson purchased the rights to the Packard name and, subsequently, had the company design and build a new V12-powered luxury sedan, hoping to attract support for short-run manufacturing. The enterprise has been promoted on a website which details the prototype, featuring an overhead-valve, fuel-injected 525 cu in (8.6 L) all-aluminum V12 engine. The car was shown at Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 2003. The 1998 prototype and Company, such that it was, were put up for sale in 2008.

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