Archive for Monday, November 5, 2012

Town Talk: Cottin’s Hardware undergoing major remodel; city set to start paying for retiree attraction efforts; land transfers, including liquor store, business park sales

November 5, 2012


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News and notes from around town:

• Even though I have long resisted it at my house, sometimes keeping up with the Joneses is a good thing. (Note to my neighbors: Nothing in this article constitutes a promise by me to get rid of my crab grass next summer. It is not a weed. It is an environmentally sustainable plant. I’m not a cheapskate. I’m a model of sustainability.)

The folks at the locally owned Cottin’s Hardware, 1832 Massachusetts, know all about the need to keep up with the Joneses. They are just a stone’s throw away from the fancy new Dillons store that opened on Massachusetts Street, they’re next to the relatively new building that houses On the Rocks liquor store, and plans are still pending on building a new Kwik Shop just south of Cottin’s store.

So Cottin’s has decided to get in on the act and undertake a complete interior remodel of the store.

“We figured that with everybody else redecorating in the neighborhood, we had better step it up and get into the 21st Century,” said Linda Cottin, an owner of the store.

The remodeling is underway now and is expected to last into February, although the store will remain open throughout the project.

When it is completed, the project is expected to give Cottin’s a larger inventory of goods.

“Hopefully it will be better arranged, and it will create more cohesive departments,” Cottin said. “It will be more comfortable for the shoppers.”

Cottin said a big part of the remodeling will add more items related to home remodeling. That means things such as a bigger selection of door knobs, cabinet pulls, faucets and other items that I’m sure my wife has mentioned and I have ignored.

Most of the remodel — which will include all new energy efficient lighting — will be confined to the interior, but Cottin said the project also will include new signs for the outside of the building.

The remodeling project comes as the Cottins are celebrating owning the store for 20 years. Cottin said the traditional hardware store has held up well in the age of big-box home improvement centers.

“Our business is strong,” Cottin said. “Our customer base is very dedicated and we draw very well from this neighborhood. Now we’re hoping to attract people from an even wider area.”

• Speaking of attracting, perhaps you have heard that Lawrence and Douglas County is hoping to attract more retirees to the area.

The city and the county are getting close to putting a system in place to attract well-to-do retirees. At their meeting on Tuesday, Lawrence city commissioners are set to approve an agreement that will require the city to start paying a portion of the salary of the executive director of Douglas County Senior Services.

At one point, the city and county had received a recommendation from the Retiree Attraction Task Force that called for a new government employee to be hired to oversee a retirement “portal,” which I guess means a Web site, phone lines and other information that would constitute a one-stop shop for retirees interested in information about Lawrence and Douglas County.

Instead of hiring a new position, however, the current thinking is to have the director of Douglas County Senior Services take over those responsibilities.

But the new responsibilities likely will require an increase in the position’s salary. The agreement up for approval on Tuesday spells out that the city and the county equally will split any salary increase that is determined to be appropriate for the position. My understanding is the position currently pays about $55,000, and there is some talk that another $15,000 to $25,000 may need to be added onto the position. The position currently is being filled on an interim basis by former Lawrence City Manager Mike Wildgen, while the Senior Services board looks for a replacement.

In addition, the agreement calls for the city and the county to equally split any costs related to a future marketing plan to attract retirees to the community. City and county officials currently are in negotiations with a marketing firm to create a marketing strategy to attract retirees. I don’t have an estimate on how much that may cost, but I would assume the services of the firm will cost a few thousand dollars and then the purchasing of advertising and marketing materials could cost more than that.

Bottomline, the city and the county — through a somewhat open-ended agreement — are going to spend some money on retirees. The task force that studied this issue said attracting retirees would have a positive economic payback to the community. The trick, though, will be attracting retirees with some financial means and still in the early stages of retirement. Much of the expected economic benefit is projected to come from retirees who have significant amounts of disposable income that they will spend on everything from real estate to entertainment to health care.

City commissioners meet at the special time of 5 p.m. on Tuesday, due to the elections.

• Some of you perhaps have thought I retired from posting weekly real estate sales. Well, I haven’t, but I have gotten mighty behind. So, I’ll correct that now and promise to do better in the future. Click here to see three weeks worth of land transfers as recorded by the Douglas County Register of Deeds.

A few sales of note include:

— It appears the deal for the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center to purchase the VFW’s post and surrounding property at 138 Alabama St. has been finalized. As previously reported, Bert Nash has said it wanted to purchase the property — which includes a large pond and natural area — to give it more strategic options for the future.

At one time, the idea involved Bert Nash using the 13-acre piece of property for an outdoor wellness center. I’m not sure how much of that idea is still on the drawing board though. The city’s recreation center/youth fieldhouse at the proposed Rock Chalk Park in northwest Lawrence also has plans for a wellness center, and it has a significant amount of outdoor space for activities. As we have reported, the VFW post is constructing a new building near 27th and Haskell.

— The reports also indicate that the property that houses Myers Retail Liquor at 902 W. 23rd Street has sold. James and Diana Myers sold the property to Big Time Properties LLC, which is led by Lawrence businessman Christian Walter, who I believe is the former owner of Glass House Liquor.

— A group led by Lawrence businessman Mark Bastemeyer, who I believe is in the business of refurbishing bowling lanes, has bought an industrial building at 1200 E. 25th Street, which is a bit south of the 23rd and Ponderosa area.

— A group led by officers with EuroTech Vertical Flight Solution has bought vacant property in Eudora’s InTech Business Park. EuroTech, which refurbishes helicopter parts, occupies the building adjacent to the vacant land. No word yet on whether the helicopter company plans an expansion or simply is buying the property — which has good visibility along Kansas Highway 10 — for investment purposes.


FlintlockRifle 5 years ago

I would guess " Fix It Linda " is doing some of the work, like her coloum---------

gccs14r 5 years ago

If they want to attract retirees, the streets and sidewalks need to be smooth and the sidewalk system will need to be continuous, rather than a patchwork.

John Hamm 5 years ago

"attract well-to-do retirees" that's Lawrence for you.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

The grass is always greener on the other side. After many years away, I'm happy as heck to be home in Lawrence.

cowboy 5 years ago

Exactly Kansas Liberal , Im 61 and this is the last place i wanna be when I retire. There is very little to do or see in Lawrence unless youre a drunk then its ok. I'll be here some months per year to be with my kids and grandkids but then Im outta here.

This is a waste of money

JackMcKee 5 years ago

Yes, come to Lawrence, retirees, where you can get fleeced so moochers can take free rides on buses and use free internet in the new $20 million parking garage.

George_Braziller 5 years ago

"On the Rocks" isn't a relatively new building. It was originally the trolley barn when Lawrence had a trolley system in the early 1900s.

Lawrence Morgan 5 years ago

Do you have any more information on this? It's a tremendous comment.

David Reynolds 5 years ago

Lawrence does not get it!!! It being, an understanding of seniors and how they retire. Lawrence is not it. The wealthy retired head to warmer communities with plenty of amenities during October thru April or May. Many stay year round in the "sun-belt", Tennessee, Carolinas, etc. As a retired person my self, my wife & I spend 4-6 months a year away from Lawrence. The only thing keeping us here is our grandchildren.

How does the retiree task force respond to the fact that many of Lawrence's wealthy retired live south for the winter months? And many have purchased second homes in these locations. Some have moved away permanently.

Lawrence does not have either the housing, transportation, activities, cost structure, shopping (stores they like), or natural beauty to attract seniors. Lawrence is set up to support KU students & KU sports...ONLY! We can not shop anywhere except possibly Weavers or Chico's.

Lawrence certainly is not sincere about senior recruitment, given the $15k -$25k salary added to the exiting Senior Service position says we only want that person to spend 20%-30% of their time on recruiting seniors to Lawrence. I have to assume the person was already busy on a full time basis , so where is the extra time going to come from? What about a marketing budget, and given we are not set up for todays mobile seniors what are we going to market? The picture we show of grandma sitting on a chair doing exercises is not a realistic picture. Today grandma is traveling the world and having cocktails on the veranda of a golf resort somewhere in the sun-belt. Trust me I am one & travel with them.

Good Luck with that retired senior recruitment thing...

Tim Quest 5 years ago

I think YOU'RE the one who doesn't get it. An old person who's behind the times...what are the chances?!

irvan moore 5 years ago

hit it right on the head, i miss furrs

tomatogrower 5 years ago

I will be retiring soon, and I don't want any of those. Let's not stereotype, please.

Cait McKnelly 5 years ago

Retiree attractions? Ya mean they're finally gonna put in an honest to god buffet?

Carol Bowen 5 years ago

Is anyone else having trouble with targeting well to do seniors using Douglas County Senior Services? I can see the realtors recruiting, but Douglas County Senior Services receive tax money (federal and local) and donations to service the general needs of seniors in Douglas County. Seems like normal folks will be second fiddle. What about the ethics?

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

This talk is to justify more big spending of OUR tax dollars "preparing" for the seniors. More new infrastructure and housing will be approved in the near future due to senior citizens. But only wealthy senior citizens....... can we say arrogance and disrespect?

The powers that be believe hiding behind the Senior Center image provides a "genuine interest" when in reality it's all about selling houses nothing more nothing less. Guess the Baur's Farm retirement facility is slow filling up. Now we taxpayers are on the hook as promoters.....what a drag. There is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned - developers and the city commission are draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

They have been preparing and talking about this new source of tax dollars aka senior citizens for the past 5 years. They are not here yet I guess. It's all talk. There is no plan.

I say they give up on the seniors and bring lots of professional bicyclists to Lawrence. People with money who can get around. Of course they will likely not live in the empty retirement communities.

Yes I too hear of Lawrence residents spending a lot of time in Florida. Developers and such.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

It does not appear that Cottin's is getting a tax dollar handout to fix up their business. Unlike wealthy hotel builders and the like. One more reason to shop Cottin's.

Hats off to Cottins. What a great business venture.

Terry Sexton 5 years ago

I like it here. The cost of living is low. Craziness from the coasts takes a while to get here. There are four seasons to enjoy. I could go for a Furr's, though...

BringBackMark 5 years ago

How pathetic is it that thc City is spending money to lure retirees rather than business to retain young people? This town has zero direction. How does this initiative fit with the 25 million dollar rec center? In the nearly 40 years I've lived here, this is one of the craziest things I've witnessed yet.

David Reynolds 5 years ago

BringBack Mark, you hit it this city has not had any real leadership or direction for decade.

That is desired by some folks who really control Lawrence. They want it to stay in the 50's or 60's.

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