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Archive for Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fritzel offers to make $50,000 historic preservation donation to help resolve Varsity House dispute

November 13, 2012

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Lawrence developer Thomas Fritzel has offered to make a $50,000 donation to historic preservation efforts as a way to resolve a dispute regarding a controversy involving the 1900s-era Varsity House.

The old Varsity House is being reconstructed at the northwest corner of 11th and Indiana streets on the site of the new Varsity House Apartment complex. A deal was struck between the developers, City Hall and the Lawrence Preservation Alliance that the former boarding home, where college athletes used to stay, would be moved to a corner of the property. Once reassembled, the structure will serve as a boarding house next to the new apartment development. But concerns have arisen about how much of the original house will remain.

The old Varsity House is being reconstructed at the northwest corner of 11th and Indiana streets on the site of the new Varsity House Apartment complex. A deal was struck between the developers, City Hall and the Lawrence Preservation Alliance that the former boarding home, where college athletes used to stay, would be moved to a corner of the property. Once reassembled, the structure will serve as a boarding house next to the new apartment development. But concerns have arisen about how much of the original house will remain.

Fritzel delivered a letter to Lawrence city commissioners Tuesday evening offering to either “raise or guarantee pledges” of $50,000 to the Douglas County Community Foundation to further historic preservation in the community.

The donation offer comes after city commissioners last month said they believed Fritzel’s efforts to move the old Varsity House to make way for a new apartment project at 1043 Indiana St. had fallen short.

Specifically, commissioners contended that Fritzel had not followed through on moving the original house but rather was rebuilding the old home using bits and pieces of salvaged material from the house.

In his letter, Fritzel said he didn’t agree with that view but made the offer in an effort to “compromise and resolve our differences.”

“Due to the extensive pre-existing deterioration of the substructure, which in turn created several challenges related to moving and relocating the original structure, the outcome is that the Varsity House was unable to be put back in its original form as anticipated at the time of land use approval,” Fritzel wrote. “This outcome was not done with a desire to ignore the intent of the site requirements. To the contrary, it was the only way to ensure the structural integrity and longevity of the Varsity House, all at considerable additional expense.”

Commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting took no action on the offer, but agreed to add it to their agenda at next Tuesday’s meeting.

“The letter indicates a willingness to work with us,” Mayor Bob Schumm said. “It is a very positive step with this particular situation.”

Dennis Brown, president of the Lawrence Preservation Alliance, said Tuesday evening he had not yet read the letter but was encouraged by what he had heard of the potential deal.

“The Varsity House will never come back,” Brown said. “They are building a nice replica at the site. But if they make a donation that makes a donation that helps some other structure in jeopardy, that will be a point of justice.”

City commissioners received the letter just prior to conducting a public hearing related to a proposed $25 million city recreation center that would be located at a proposed Kansas University sports complex just north of the northeast intersection of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway.

A group led by Fritzel has been proposed to be the builder for the city and KU complex.

Comments

handlon 1 year, 5 months ago

Just another sad example of how insider corruption is rampant everywhere. We have let developers run roughshod over the commission at the expense of proper zoning, proven demand or anything else quantifiable other that the need for more profits for the developers themselves.

1

Keith Richards 1 year, 5 months ago

Who cares about the crappy house. I don't think he should have to pay anything for making the house better than it was before.

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Leslie Swearingen 1 year, 5 months ago

This is just a building, not a holy site. It should have been torn down and made into mulch. Not everyone can or wants to buy a house so that is why apartment buildings are necessary. Remember, people, this is Kansas, not Dubai!

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 5 months ago

I have knowledge off 4 houses you can buy and move off the lots.

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irvan moore 1 year, 5 months ago

like everything else this will be forgotten, remember when douglas county bank bulldozed the properties where the bamk and parking lot are in the middle of the night

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Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 5 months ago

Fritzell wants the big job on the rec center. He is gonna make millions on that deal. Tell Fritz to cut a check $250k and move on.

4

Richard Heckler 1 year, 5 months ago

They lie because city hall and commissioners are afraid of wealthy developers. Fritzel is not the only property management/owner to not follow site plans.

It seems to me this is common with the exception of homeowners doing an improvement on their own home or whatever.

From the LJW article this is not really a solution. This does not restore the home as agreed upon.

Developers are NOT afraid of city hall. I doubt they have much respect for commissioners . Use them while in office.

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 5 months ago

For whatever, the best part is the city aka Corliss, schumm Amyx can't get their hands on it. Better to make a charitable contribution, Hehehe. The joke goes on and brown and LPA fall for it. How sweet revenge is!

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OonlyBonly 1 year, 5 months ago

Too little, too late and it's not all his money - note he promises to "raise or guarantee pledges." Not the same as writing a check....

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 5 months ago

I wouldn't be surprised if the money gesture is a waynfornschummand Amyx to save face more than it being a legitnfine. After all. There were never any fines set up to collect. It's a big show and the LPA and Dennis Brown have fallen for it.

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hujiko 1 year, 5 months ago

Fritzel lies. Repeatedly.

Building heights, cell towers, astroturf, varsity house...(feel free to add any other unscrupulous occurrences).. etc.

Must be real nice not having recourse to the rules us common folk abide to.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 5 months ago

Oh, goodie. Fritzel and the commission can kiss and make up-- now they can give him a $25 million no-bid contract, without asking the opinion of the the voters who will pay for it.

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kernal 1 year, 5 months ago

It's easy to get away with deceit when you can buy your way out.

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 5 months ago

This goes to show that again Lawrence is not friendly to nusiness. Is every freakin house going to have to go through this insane process? Fritzel's donation should be put into a fund toBUYnhousesnthat owners have been screwed over by the city with regulations.

Dennis Brown and the other wanna be preservationists with others money have no scruples and should realize that again they have shown their stupidity. Why didn't Dennis Brwn buy the house at the auction? Why? He and the others don't want to buy something, theynwant it for free, cause they have no money.

Sorry, Mr Brown the LPA. Needs to get a life.

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brent flanders 1 year, 5 months ago

Just doesn't fly, return it to the original condition and/or put the real estate back up for sale...many people would have purchased the house/real estate without the shackles that were obviously in play.

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jhawk1998 1 year, 5 months ago

A bribe is a form of corruption which involves the promise of money or a favor to someone in a position of power, with the hope of influencing that person's behavior. Bribery is viewed as a crime in many regions of the world

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lawrencereporter 1 year, 5 months ago

So you can knowingly break the law, knowingly disregard site plan regulations, try and get away with it, oops- get caught, then be threatened with a fine by your friends at city hall and then be allowed to choose your own penalty, offer a ridiculously low dollar amount and then be applauded for a job well done.

Fritzel must be hiding more violations that the city didn't find at that project. The sooner this is resolved the less problems for Thomas Fritzel. 50k added to a five million dollar project is chump change. He will get that back x 100's from the city on the recreation center project.

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zackattackku 1 year, 5 months ago

Replica looks good so far except for one thing. The third floor side floors are three feet short of the edge where they are supposed to be...Oops!!

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Darth_Vader 1 year, 5 months ago

Isn't this usually called hush money? Only this time it's out in the open...

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