Construction work has begun on a $2.2 million project to build a new downtown office headquarters for Lawrence-based Treanor Architects.
Crews have begun work at 1040 Vt., the former Strong’s Office Supply store, to revamp the building and add a second story to the structure.
Work originally was scheduled to begin last summer on the project, but a spokesman for Treanor said the project is now on track to be finished by late October or early November.
“It has taken us longer to get started than we thought,” said Bill Fleming, an attorney and spokesman for Treanor. “But that has mainly just been architects working for architects. You can imagine how particular they have gotten. I can say that since I’m not an architect.”
The office project will allow Treanor to have all of its Lawrence employees in one office. Currently Treanor has about 55 employees between its office spaces at 1501 W. Sixth St. and 110 McDonald Drive.
But Treanor, which also has offices in Kansas City, Topeka, St. Louis and Dallas, is designing the building to house more than 70 employees in the near term. The building will serve as the corporate headquarters for the entire company.
Fleming said the company’s employees should provide a boost to downtown through additional dining and retail purchases. The idea of bringing more daytime workers to the downtown area was a major reason city commissioners supported a property tax break for the project.
In April, commissioners agreed to use the Neighborhood Revitalization Act to provide a partial rebate of the new property taxes that will be generated by the project. The city, county and school district will continue to receive all the taxes they currently receive from the property. But as the project is built and the tax bill rises, Treanor will receive a rebate for the next 10 years.
The rebate will start at 95 percent in year No. 1 but gradually fall to 20 percent by year 10. After 10 years, the project will not receive a rebate.
“I know we are excited to be coming downtown, and I think downtown will be excited to have us,” Fleming said.
The project also shores up Treanor Architects’ long-term future in the city. Lawrence businessman Mike Treanor still serves as chairman of the company, but over the last several months he has stepped away from his role as president of the architecture firm. Dan Rowe is now serving in that position.
The building project will cause some changes in parking around the 10th and Vermont street area. In the city-owned parking lot in the 1000 block of Vermont, the city will be converting 29 free, two-hour parking spots into 10-hour metered parking lots to accommodate the project. Several short-term parking meters along Vermont Street and also along nearby North Park Street also will be converted into 10-hour metered spaces in order to provide more locations for employees of the new building to park. Like all downtown development projects, the building is not required to provide its own off-street parking.
The project also is expected to eventually affect the downtown Lawrence Tuesday afternoon Farmers’ Market — but not this year. The farmers’ market uses the parking lot in the 1000 block of Vermont for its Tuesday afternoon market. Since the Treanor project is not expected to be completed until late October, the parking lot is not expected to be affected this season, city officials said.
But City Hall leaders have said the market may need to search for another location for its weekday market in future years because the lot is expected to attract a significant number of vehicles.