Archive for Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Town Talk: Kia dealership expanding on 23rd Street; Police Department to get armored vehicle; developers asking TIF money to cover $695,000 in land costs at Ninth and N.H.

October 2, 2012


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News and notes from around town:

• The folks at Shawnee Mission Kia of Lawrence definitely are highlighting the Lawrence part of their name these days.

The company has begun work on a major expansion of its Lawrence showroom at 1225 E. 23rd St. Chin Rajapaksha, general manager and partner at the Kia dealership, told me the project will add 9,000 square feet of new space to the showroom.

“We’re making a huge commitment to Lawrence,” Rajapaksha said. “We’re definitely going to make a name for ourselves in Lawrence.”

The size of the expansion gives you a bit of an idea of how large the Kia brand can become in Lawrence. Currently, the dealership has offices for five sales people. The new building will grow that number to 13.

“Basically, we’re setting this up to be a 300-cars-per-month store,” Rajapaksha said. “Currently, we’re at about 100 cars per month.”

The new showroom also will have a children’s area. Cool, maybe they’ll take mine on trade. (Hey, cut me a break,. I’ve been on vacation with them for four days.) Also included in the project is an Internet cafe for guests, a new service drive, and, of course, more indoor space to display cars.

Construction work is underway on the project, and Rajapaksha hopes to be moved into the new space by the beginning of the year. Currently, the dealership has temporarily moved its offices into the building immediately west of the construction site.

• I don’t believe it will be a Kia, but the Lawrence Police Department soon will be getting an armored vehicle. (Fifteen police officers charging out of an armored Kia, though, would give me reason to pause, if I were a criminal.)

The city has won a $152,500 Homeland Security grant from the federal government to purchase the vehicle. The grant covers the full cost of the vehicle, which means the city won’t have to take any money from its budget to cover the cost. (They will have to fuel it though, and I don’t know what type of gas mileage an armored vehicle gets. Probably about 10 miles per gallon better than the old F-150.)

The Lawrence Police Department is scheduled to purchase this type of armored vehicle with a $152,500 Homeland Security grant.

The Lawrence Police Department is scheduled to purchase this type of armored vehicle with a $152,500 Homeland Security grant.

Police Chief Tarik Khatib previously has made the case for why the department needs an armored vehicle. In a new memo to city commissioners, Khatib reiterates that for a university community — which hosts many large events — to be without such a vehicle is a concern.

“A purposefully built vehicle which protects its occupants is a necessary component of any professionally equipped law enforcement agency; especially one that is responsible for safety and response in a large university city,” Khatib wrote.

The armored vehicle is being billed as a “rescue vehicle” by the Police Department, which indicates it could be used in certain type of hostage scenarios, events that turn violent, or mayhem that you hope doesn’t happen.

“Such a vehicle would increase the department’s capability and officer safety in response to critical incidents involving active shooters, barricaded and armed individuals, and perimeter control out in the open,” Khatib wrote.

In the past, when Khatib has made a case for the armored vehicle, a few folks have expressed concern that the vehicle would be a sign of a “militarization” of our police force. Well, for what it is worth, the new vehicle doesn’t look anything like a tank. (It kind of looks like the old F-150 on steroids.) The vehicle doesn’t have any type of permanent mounted weapon system, although it does look like it has several side openings and a roof hatch that will allow officers to fire weapons from inside the vehicle.

The department should receive the vehicle by early 2013. With this latest grant, the city now has received $465,000 in Homeland Security grants since 2004. Other items purchased with the grants include specialized crime scene and surveillance vehicles, forensic equipment, and ballistic vests, shields and respirators.

• I don’t think I’ll need an armored vehicle to get a parking spot for tonight’s City Commission meeting. But I suppose you never know. Commissioners will be discussing a package of financial incentives for the multistory building projects at Ninth and New Hampshire streets.

As we reported last week, a couple of tweaks have been made to the proposed uses in the hotel building slated for the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire. Mainly, the development group — which is led by Lawrence businessmen Doug Compton and Mike Treanor — are looking to replace the rooftop restaurant with three luxury condos and more hotel rooms. None of the changes impact the height or size of the building.

But since the time we reported on that letter, the development group also has sent another letter seeking a tweak in the financial incentives package of the project as well. The development group wants to clarify that the $695,000 that it is under contract to pay to purchase the land at the southeast corner is eligible for reimbursement through the tax increment financing district.

The group points out that state law allow the property and sales taxes captured through TIF districts to be used for the purchase of private development property. But city commissioners have never specifically discussed using TIF money for that type of purpose, so City Hall staff members are asking for direction.

To clarify, developers aren’t asking for the overall maximum of TIF expenses — which is capped at $3.5 million for the hotel project — to be raised. Rather, they want to ensure they can submit the $695,000 in land cost to be reimbursed as part of that total.

Commissioners are expected to review a whole host of documents related to the TIF district, a special tax plan called a transportation development district, industrial revenue bonds and other miscellaneous items related to the development. Commissioners are not expected to take any formal action on the items tonight. That will come in future weeks.

In the meantime, that gives me more time to bulk up my old F-150 into an armored vehicle. No, I don’t need it for any type of uses like the Police Department would. I need it to protect from my wife all my fabulous deals that I get at local auctions. If you don’t believe me, ask me sometime about my recent $1 purchase of a used, portable, chemical toilet. (I know, can you believe it, it's portable.) Body armor would have come handy on that day.


patkindle 3 years ago

i assume we are to be proud we skinned the feds out of the money to buy an amorded car to haul more tax money to the comstock lode .............

thats what it is all about, rob from the rich

ljwhirled 3 years ago

You got to have an armored vehicle in Lawrence.

When the ex-chief of police starts shooting up his neighborhood, you need to get into the house so you can......take him to the hospital and decline to file any charges.

I'm sure that Marsha Mace would have appreciate the same treatment: Maybe the new military assault vehicle will ensure that everyone gets treated the same.

John Hamm 3 years ago

$152,500 dollars! What a waste.

phoglight 3 years ago

waste of what.... federal money that is going to be spent one way or another. Might as well be on protecting the city you live in.

Fossick 3 years ago

Right, because this money comes from federal taxpayers, and the people of Lawrence are local taxpayers so it doesn't cost us anything.

50YearResident 3 years ago

We all know that nobody in Lawrence pays Federal Taxes, right?

CLARKKENT 3 years ago

phog---protecting it from what?????????????

50YearResident 3 years ago

Now that Lawrence has this vehicle, next will be the demand for 20 new Swat Team hires to man this thing 24/7. Can't opperate a swat car without a swat team, can you? Pony up folks, we can't just park this magnicifant vehicle, can we?

Flap Doodle 3 years ago

"These are the units that are used in Dominion, TX." Only in your dark corners of your mind. Dominion Tank Police was an anime series from the 1980s. Looks like somebody built a real one. No relation to Dominion, TX. (from a source)

Doyle Coons 3 years ago

OMG!!! Love it! I ink all cops cars should be like this!

irvan moore 3 years ago

the deal at 9th and new hampshire keeps getting worse and worse for the taxpayers, this commission has never said no to him yet, what do you think the odds are this time

Erinn Barroso 3 years ago

Yes, but instead of a flat out no, they encouraged him to redesign until they could approve it. I still am dumbfounded as to why that is even a TIF district to begin with!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

The only ones who said "no" to any significant aspect of this project was the HRC, who, silly people, took their job seriously, only to get scolded by Schumm and every other rubber stamper on the commission.

flyin_squirrel 3 years ago

If we are talking about wasted tax dollars, start at the HRC. HRC is a joke that the city should get rid of since the State offers the same service (and every other community in Kansas uses).

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

Yea, we'd be much better off if we just bulldoze everything built before, say, 1985 and start over (sarcasm.)

"State offers the same service"

Well, it's not the same because it would be the state making those decisions and rulings, not a group of Lawrence citizens. But if we really want to follow your logic, I suppose we could just unincorporate the whole city and let the state and county administer everything, right?

"and every other community in Kansas uses"

Not true.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

Which "stupid emotions" did they base the ruling over this project on?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

So, anytime someone does something you disagree with, it's because they are "stupidly emotional."

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

"HRC is a joke and if you ever had to run a project through them you would know. "

I suspect that what you really mean is that you don't give a crap about historic preservation.

"Your also a liar because you know the city commish has the power to over ride HRC and they did not.

Huh? Yes, they do have the power, and they used it, when they DID overrule the HRC on this very project.

flyin_squirrel 3 years ago

HRC doesn't care about Historic Preservation either, they just don't want to see Lawrence grow.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

When all else fails, go dancing with the straw man.

patkindle 3 years ago

that is much of our problem today everyone is againest govt waste except of course if it is ending up locally then it is ok

TheAustrian 3 years ago

Patk... and LarryN.... Certainly can not argue with you that we as Americans are incredibly wasteful. Not only our government but also citizens. Most Americans consume resources and spend money on crap we do not need without blinking an eye, costs anywhere from $40.000 to $100.000 to train and equip a police officer. The longer a police officer is in service, they more money they are worth. Spending $125.000 to protect those assets can not be seen as wasteful. Instead, this cost should be viewed as a relatively inexpensive insurance policy. Even if this vehicle sits for 15 or 20 years in a garage and is never used, the one time that it has to be used, it might save a life. At that time it will be many more times worth its investment.

Doyle Coons 3 years ago

Awesome return on the investment!

jafs 3 years ago

Any and all discussions, clarifications, etc. should happen before contracts are signed, projects are approved and incentives granted.

Also, the article calls this a "tweak", which suggests that they are asking for something that wasn't agreed upon.

Although it may be acceptable under the law to grant this sort of request, I can't think of any other use of the TIF like this - usually they apply to infrastructure improvements, parking, etc.

Do these developers really just not want to pay for any of their business expenses, and how far along that road will the city let them go?

Costs to purchase land, improve infrastructure related to one's development, parking garages, etc. are all basic business expenses that, in my view, the developers should pay for. If they can't do that, and make a profit, then the venture isn't feasible.

Richard Heckler 3 years ago

Ahhh yes corporate socialism. And what we’ve gotten is corporate socialism for the politically connected rich — not all the rich, the politically connected rich — and market capitalism for everybody else.

Economic figures show that in 2005, the wealthiest 0.1 percent of the country’s population had nearly as much income as all 150 million Americans who make up the lower economic half of the country. Of each dollar people earned in 2005, the top ten percent got 48.5 cents, the highest percentage since 1929, just before the Great Depression.

David Cay Johnston has been closely tracking the nation’s income gap in the pages of the New York Times.

BILL MOYERS: But some of your critics have said you've gone beyond investigative reporting in this book to become a crusader against the rich. do you object to people getting rich?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Oh, no. I-- good grief. I have no objection to that whatsoever. But get rich by working hard, working smarter, coming up with a better mousetrap. Don't get rich by getting the government to pass a law that sticks the government's hand into my pocket, takes money out of it, and gives it to you. That's not right. That's not a fair playing field. And Adam Smith, you know, warned again and again that it is the nature and tendency of business people to want to put their thumb on the scale, and even better, to get the government to put the thumb on the scale for their benefit. And that's what we've seen going on now in our society for some time.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, the theme of the book as I read it is that not that the rich are getting richer but that they've got the government rigging the rules to help them do it.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: That's exactly right. And they're doing it in a way that I think is very crucial for people to understand. They're doing it by taking from those with less to give to those with more. So the other moral authority I cite in the book is the Bible, both the Old Testament and the new. And all the way through those two books you can read condemnation after condemnation of taking from the poor to benefit the rich. You will come to ruin, it says in the Old Testament, if you give to the rich and yet that's what we're doing. We gave $100 million dollars to Warren Buffett's company last year, a gift from the taxpayers. We make gifts all over the place to rich people. And yet the way the news media write about it, people are often very unaware of this because we use complicated terms and meaningless language to the average reader so they don't understand what's happened.

Richard Heckler 3 years ago

Local Lawrence Taxpayers can no longer afford First Management, the Chamber of Commerce or the City Commission.

Richard Heckler 3 years ago

"The city has won a $152,500 Homeland Security grant from the federal government to purchase the vehicle. The grant covers the full cost of the vehicle, which means the city won’t have to take any money from its budget to cover the cost. (They will have to fuel it though, and I don’t know what type of gas mileage an armored vehicle gets. Probably about 10 miles per gallon better than the old F-150.)

Police Chief Tarik Khatib previously has made the case for why the department needs an armored vehicle. In a new memo to city commissioners, Khatib reiterates that for a university community — which hosts many large events — to be without such a vehicle is a concern. "

Somehow when Bush/Cheney established the Department of Homeland Security it established itself as a symbol of mammoth size big government with a blank check. It seems there is no budget just spending. Issuing checks to local law enforcement for armored vehicles is anything but fiscal restraint. =============================================================== Just how was a need established? A need in Lawrence,Kansas? =============================================================== Since BUSHCO allowed 9/11/01 to take place reckless spending has been the result. Trillions upon trillions beyond belief. Why did the BUSHCO national security team decide not to pay attention?

Can you imagine the years of strategy and rehearsals behind 9/01/11 yet BUSHCO decided the known terrorists were not important in spite of the fact he was made aware of their presence?

jafs 3 years ago

Except, of course, for the little problem of filibusters.

bad_dog 3 years ago

You're correct, cheese. Aside from the pile of fecal material known as the economy and train wreck foreign policy Obama inherited, we can just overlook Bush's accountability for the economic climate of the last 4 years. Just forget the Bush tax cuts with two ongoing wars, big pharma bill, etc. Likewise, we'll just overlook all the statements and histrionic behavior from the likes of Limbaugh, Beck, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, et al with their obstructionist agendas; vowing to do their best to make Obama a one term president. I don't even need to mention characters like Rove and the Koch brothers as their motives are obviously All American, pure as the driven snow patriotism.

I'm disappointed with much of what Obama has/has not done, but ignoring all the surrounding circumstances the D's inherited coupled with the R's outspoken, oft repeated agenda is a perspective completely devoid of objectivity.

Ryan Kruse 3 years ago

Merrill, you always have so much to say, always in the know with all the right ideas and explanations. Shoot, why not run for City Commission, hell let's make you mayor and kill City Commission. If I had my choice I would buy the LJ World and shut the comment section down so I didn't have to read your malarkey

jafs 3 years ago

You can easily skip over his posts - if you don't want to read them, why not just do that?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

"Shoot, why not run for City Commission, "

Actually, he did once run for city commission.

"shut the comment section down so I didn't have to read your malarkey"

Here's a little secret-- you don't HAVE to read anything on the entire JW website.

gl0ck0wn3r 3 years ago

Interesting. You are suggesting that the Bush administration actively conspired to allow 9/11? Can you cite any reputable sources that make this argument?

Also... Corporate socialism? Really? I thought you liked socialism.

Eugehne Normandin 3 years ago

My homeland would be safer if LPD enforced speed limits in North Lawrence.

irvan moore 3 years ago

thanks commissioners for saying no to the tif, i'm happy to have guessed wrong on this one

jafs 3 years ago

I'm with beatnik.

On another story, apparently the city declined to provide TIF funds for the land purchase.

Color me shocked, but pleased.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

It seems just as likely to me that Compton, et al, requested this knowing full well it would be rejected just to allow the city commission to look less like a rubber stamp in denying it.

jafs 3 years ago

A little too conspiracy theorist for my taste.

I fully expected the city to give it to them, as did you, if I remember correctly.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

Yes, I did expect them to approve it. But if the rationale for the previous TIFs were legitimate, what has changed that makes this one unacceptable? Saying that it's "too late" doesn't make any sense, since they haven't done anything yet and probably won't for a couple of months yet.

jafs 3 years ago

Well, if the project was approved based on the previous TIF agreements, then it's now too late to simply amend those, which was our argument against it, right?

Also, TIF funding is generally not used for land purchases, so that may also be a reason to deny it.

Dan Blomgren 3 years ago

The armored vehicle is being billed as a “rescue vehicle” by the Police Department, which indicates it could be used in certain type of hostage scenarios, events that turn violent, or mayhem that you hope doesn’t happen.

Hostage scenarios in Lawrence? Have we ever had one (a hostage scenario that is)? Events that turn violent? Such as perhaps the occasional bar fight at 2:00 am on Mass. By the time the 'rescue vehicle' gets deployed the fight will have broken up and the bloody nose will have stopped bleeding. And mayem? What kind of mayhem is happening in Lawrence that 'may' turn violent requiring an armored "rescue vehicle"? Are the sorority girls packing 'heat' these days?

Give me a break. Another example of our federal government spending borrowed money from China on things we just don't need.

2 years, 12 months ago

Please explain to me the purpose of an armored vehicle in Lawrence, Kansas. I know there are like a million and one shootings every year and the riots are insane... but really?

gl0ck0wn3r 2 years, 12 months ago

It only takes one active shooter at an event to make it a worthwhile investment to quite a few people. KU hosts quite a few events.

2 years, 12 months ago

So, we need to prepare for something that may never happen? Is one shooter worth all of that money? I'd rather effort be put into acquiring something that will be used, not may be used.

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