Archive for Wednesday, May 2, 2012

N. Lawrence development project needs design guidelines, city says

May 2, 2012


City commissioners have opened the door for a downtown-style development to be built in North Lawrence, but commissioners want more details about its look and uses.

Lawrence city commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting unanimously gave preliminary approval to a set of rezoning requests for the property behind Johnny’s Tavern at Second and Locust streets. But commissioners also stipulated the rezoning won’t become final until a set of design guidelines for the area are approved by the City Commission.

“The key to this project is in the design guidelines to make sure we have something that really looks great,” said City Commissioner Aron Cromwell. “We can have something here that really complements downtown and won’t look like some sort of knockoff.”

Commissioners directed staff members to create design guidelines that generally will limit the footprint of retail buildings to no more than 25,000 square feet, although commissioners said they want to allow a process that would give commissioners a chance to approve larger buildings on a case-by-case basis.

Commissioners heard from several downtown merchants who expressed concern about the project damaging downtown if it becomes a magnet for big box retailers.

But Paul Werner, an architect for the development group that includes the owners of Johnny’s and other area businessmen, said the project was not looking to attract big box retailers but wanted to have the ability to market the project to unique users, such as a movie theater, a grocery store or perhaps even a museum.

Werner said the project would have a heavy residential emphasis and also would include a boardwalk feature along the Kansas River levee that would allow access to shops and restaurants next to it.

Staff members indicated the design guidelines will come back to the City Commission in the next several months. The development group said it doesn’t yet have any tenants for the project and doesn’t have a time line for the development to get under way.


CLARKKENT 6 years ago


canttakeitanymore 6 years ago

arent those 2 still fighting with ELNA? for like 2 years?

jesse499 6 years ago

A 25,000 square foot grocery store? One is needed but that wouldn't make a very big store

Chad Lawhorn 6 years ago

That's one of the reasons why the city likely will include a provision in the design guidelines that will allow the city commission to approve buildings with a footprint of up to 50,000 square feet on a case-by-case basis. Thanks, Chad

flyin_squirrel 6 years ago

You mean the city actually approved something that makes sense... I guess this wasn't HRC though. And I used to love shopping at Sunflower Bike Shop downtown, but after hearing the owner last night, not so much....

JackMcKee 6 years ago

no kidding. Everything in Lawrence does not and should not revolve around Mass. That attitude has been holding Lawrence back for a long time and turned the area into an overpriced entertainment district. Great leadership.

Joe Adams 6 years ago

Anyone able to provide more details about what the owner said? As much as I would have loved to be there, Tuesday just doesn't work so I'm left to reading Chad's updates and missing all the drama. But I love me some drama :)

Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years ago

Agreed, Sunflower Bike Shop, The Sand Bar and others including the DLA would be fully against this as they don't want any competition. Imagine how much of a destination spot it would be for a boardwalk with little shops along the Kaw would be.

Although North Lawrence deserves a little love from the city, the bridge is a choke point and this alone is reason enough to scrap this plan.

MarcoPogo 6 years ago

One option would be to have another entry point on the north side of the railroad overpass. I would hope that this has been discussed.

Currant 6 years ago

Seems to me that Sunflower and other downtown businesses would be fine with a "boardwalk with little shops," and that design guidelines would be the best way to get there. 50,000 square feet is about half of the size of Home Depot - is that what we want as a complement to our downtown? I, for one, will happily continue to shop at Sunflower! Can't blame them or any other downtown business owner for urging a little caution here.

Traffic issues, trail access issues, and etc. still need much consideration. The Kansas River is a great potential amenity, but let's be careful about how it becomes that.

debbi 6 years ago

The Sandbar is not opposed to the North Lawrence development. Not sure where you got that idea.

DLI 6 years ago

For the record, DLI's official position statement to the City was this: "Downtown Lawrence Inc. (DLI) supports the rezoning request by the North Mass Development project except the request to exempt the proposed North Mass Development from the current requirement that individual stores in the Downtown Commercial Center have a maximum footprint of no more than 25,000 square feet. The City Commission should approve the requested rezoning without the exemption."

irvan moore 6 years ago

one of the big problems is design guidelines approved by the city commission. we have the foxes watching the henhouse. why not have a diverse board of unpaid qualified lawrence residents that represent all the population, not just downtown.

somedude20 6 years ago

So you believe that Lawrence's nice and kind landlords are NOT passing the cost of the property tax they pay onto the renter?

irvan moore 6 years ago

no, not what i said. i'm not against growth, i would like to see projects looked at on their own merit, not if they will be allowed to compete against downtown lawrence. i think the building at 9th and new hampshire is ok, i think infill is good

Boston_Corbett 6 years ago

Oh My God!!! Renters!! Perish the thought!

So the City of Lawrence which annually adds hundreds of units of multi-family units should not listen to or have those people participate in a public planning process.

What a revealing thing to say.

Let's just take away their right to vote to clean things up for you.

somedude20 6 years ago

The cost is INCLUDED in rent. For example, 3 years ago my rent went up due to prop tax going up(per landlord's mouth)..oh, when I paid my rent today, I asked my landlord, who owns many rentals in L-town, if she includes prop tax in rent, what do you think she said....YESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES.

kuguardgrl13 6 years ago

So the 27,000 of us up on the Hill shouldn't have a say in the town where many of us decide to stay and start our adult lives? Sorry, I'm not in a place in my life where I can go and buy a house west of Iowa Street. And those new downtown condos definitely don't represent Lawrence. Drive around Old West Lawrence sometime.

kuguardgrl13 6 years ago

Sorry if we're such an inconvenience for you. Lawrence would be a pretty podunk place if you didn't have the universities, either of them. KU could've been established in several different towns, but they chose to put it here. Way to hate on one of the largest employers in the county.

Joan Kelly 6 years ago

The point of the city commission is to represent the population, that's why they are elected...

JackMcKee 6 years ago

Downtowm merchants? What downtown merchants? Oh Sunflower and Weavers? Blame your Brad Wesleys for ruining the retail on Mass. With Cromwell and Schumm on the CC you can forget a viable boardwalk. In fact, thank all your usual suspects. I would MUCH rather have this than the $18 million parking garage, and this won't cost me a thing. Notice, no TIF, either. Even though this area makes about 10,000 % more sense for TIF than Dougie's hotel. God I hate this town sometimes.

JackMcKee 6 years ago

I'm sorry, but this town's Mass street tunnel vision is ridiculous. It's a drinking/entertainment district full of overprived Mexican restaurants and bar food. It's over people. You created Westport 2. What fantastic "leadership". It really sucks someone wants to create an area to compete with for your hungry drunks.

billybrewster1 6 years ago

Remember, the developers themselves have stated that they're only on "step 5 or 6 out of 100 steps" towards getting this built.

You can place a pretty good bet that some of those other steps to come include a TIF district, or a TTD, or maybe even some STAR bonds. Maybe all three.

And I'm sure there will be some sizable asks from the City in terms of infrastructure to help this get off the ground.

All in the name of things we "need."

JackMcKee 6 years ago

This area is FAR more worthy of investment than Douggie's hotel. We'll see what happens but I'm not giving them good odds of getting a bit of help from the City.

pizzapete 6 years ago

I thought that area of the river was in a flood plane? I'm eager to find out more about this project, it seems like a great idea on paper. Like others, a major concern I have is how this might effect traffic at the foot of the bridge? A project like this, or a good KU football team, might actually bring more people to downtown or Lawrence in general. It's kind of refreshing that someone has a new idea for development in this town instead of just adding more hotels or apartments to an already saturated market.

MarcoPogo 6 years ago

Building a shopping district on a flood plain could certainly result in a "saturated market." (rimshot!)

JackMcKee 6 years ago

The entirety of North Lawrence is behind a dyke. Obviously things are being built in that part of town so I don't think that's a valid concern.

JackMcKee 6 years ago

levee. dyke. you know a thing to hold back a river

kuguardgrl13 6 years ago

Uhh... Have you ever seen the water marks at Tee Pee Junction? "Not a valid concern"? You're funny.

MarcoPogo 6 years ago

I believe the levee now in place was heightened sometime after that 60-years-ago flood. But yes, Tee Pee Junction is funny.

1southernjayhawk 6 years ago

North Lawrence is behind a lesbian?

gatekeeper 6 years ago

N. Lawrence is mainly part of a 500 year flood plain. You don't even have to have flood insurance to get a mortgage in N. Lawrence. The dyke/levee took away any flooding issues. What floods from the river is the area on the other side by Burcham Park.

Joshua Montgomery 6 years ago

It needs an aquarium. An Aquarium on the river.

Would draw people from KC and Topeka. Relatively cheap to build and maintain.

JackMcKee 6 years ago

what the town needs is a mountain or ocean. What we have is a Universty. Unfortunately the "leadership" in town thinks what we have is a street. We have some really stupid "leaders". But that's what you get when you elect a trust fund baby who somehow ruins BBQ and a failed actor to your city commission.

JackMcKee 6 years ago

somehow in my screed I left out that BBQ failure also has all the charisma and personality of a rabid squirrel. It's just bizarre that a town that is supposedly full of so many "smart" people can't do any better on the city commission. I saw one of our previous commissioners the other day. The one that declared bankruptcy. Yea, he was scanning my groceries. What. The. %#*! Lawrence?

Lisa Rasor 6 years ago

Are you saying that working in a grocery store is a "dumb" job? Or that someone who works in a grocery store isn't qualified to be a city commissioner? That's an attitude someone with all the charisma and personality of a rabid squirrel would have.

Lisa Rasor 6 years ago

The comment above was meant for JackMcKee, not LarryNative. Sorry.

JackMcKee 6 years ago

Yes, that is exactly what I'm saying.

geekin_topekan 6 years ago

Jack in the Box would make it most attractive!

kuguardgrl13 6 years ago

Has anyone talked to the Johnny's management about what they want? Or the residents of North Lawrence? They probably wouldn't mind some sort of grocery store. North Lawrence and Grant Township residents have to drive into town just to buy groceries unless they can get it at Dollar General. We don't need more boutique shops in Lawrence. Can we get a Barnes & Noble now that Borders is closed?

kuguardgrl13 6 years ago

I never go to casinos (even though I'm of legal age to gamble in my home state), we have too many Mexican restaurants in this town, and I'm not of a gender that would appreciate a brothel. Just because I don't directly pay property taxes, doesn't mean I don't care about this town. According to the state, I am a voting citizen of Kansas, and yes I do vote in elections. After KU, I wouldn't mind starting my career here and raising a family. I'm not one of those who is just here for a degree or the basketball. I personally have a vested interest in what happens with the city, county, and even USD 497. So no, I don't pay property taxes, but that doesn't mean I should have any less of a say than you, LarryNative. So you pay property taxes on your house. I have a city utilities bill that comes every month. Part of that is taxes. I have plenty of townie friends who are currently renters. Should they not have a say either just because they don't pay property taxes?

irvan moore 6 years ago

remember when the galloways did barbque? that was real barbque

JackMcKee 6 years ago

Lawrence has two problems. Liberalism run amok combined with unbridled greed and corruption. It's what happens when you let about 100 people make all the decisions.

JackMcKee 6 years ago

really there's a third. Easy government money.

JackMcKee 6 years ago

I bet Lawrence leads the state in number of people living off inheritance and trust funds. Yet another problem with the town.

Matt Schwartz 6 years ago

Surely JoCo. has more trust fund babies....Let's bring it to a vote....and we have more than just two problems, or three, by the way.

Carol Bowen 6 years ago

I'm glad they are planning first, and I hope the neighborhood residents and businesses are included in the planning process.

flyin_squirrel 6 years ago

The north Lawrence improvement association was there and said they have been working with this group for 3 years on this project. They are in full support.

pagan_idolator 6 years ago

I own Village Witch. We will have to find a new place when this is started. When the developers bought the place a few years back they were very upfront and clear about their intentions as far as redeveloping the area. I have had many business landlords and I have to say these guys have been my favorites. Very good about working with us when the road construction was holding our heads under water. I am going to hate to have to move the shop - I doubt I will be able to afford the new rents - but they are making sure to keep all their tenants updated on the process. Will miss my easy going landlords.

Carol Bowen 6 years ago

Area plans are developed with planning staff and residents. I don't recall any area plan needing consultant.

indepsys 6 years ago

@JackMcKee: If you have such an unbridled dislike for so many things about Lawrence, why don't you leave? There are very many other wonderful places to live in this great country that would surely benefit from your constant bellyaching about, well, pretty much everything.

Or even better, why don't YOU run for city office? you can become the 101st person that "runs" thing in Lawrence. At the very least volunteer and become a helpful part of the population.

I am not trying to say this to insult you as I do respect the fact that you're on here so often voicing your opinion. I'd simply suggest, stop being part of the problem (by complaining about everyone else), and start becoming part of the solution (by taking some action that actually changes something).

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