Archive for Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Town Talk: New housing development proposed for Sixth and George Williams Way; alterations shop opens at Sixth and Wakarusa; rumors that Casey’s General Store interested in Lawrence

October 31, 2012


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News and notes from around town:

• Happy Halloween. I’m sure there are neighborhoods throughout this city where sugar is flowing down the streets like rainwater. Based on the energy level of my kids this morning, I guess mine falls into that category. (I was told after the fact that candy corn for breakfast is not acceptable. I thought we were trying to get our kids to eat more vegetables.)

Maybe by this time next year, there will be a brand new Lawrence neighborhood where the kids can trick-or-treat. And perhaps not coincidentally, it may be pretty near the proposed city/Kansas University sports complex in northwest Lawrence.

Plans have been filed at City Hall to create the Langston Heights neighborhood just southwest of George Williams Way and Sixth Street. The property — which runs along the South Lawrence Trafficway and stretches down to a point just north and west of Langston Hughes Elementary — would be a mix of single-family homes, duplexes and apartments.

The plans call for 29 lots of single-family homes on about 9 acres of property, about 50 duplexes — 100 living units since each duplex has two — on about 8.5 acres, and 86 apartment units on about 9.8 acres.

The project will need to win zoning approval at both the Planning Commission and City Commission levels before it can proceed. I mentioned how this site is near the proposed recreation center/sports complex, but probably the bigger driver for this project is the fact that a new interchange at Bob Billings Parkway and the South Lawrence Trafficway is going to become reality. Plus the completion of the eastern leg of the trafficway will help too.

It will be interesting to watch how much new development that interchange — which likely will be completed by November 2015 — will spur. Particularly interesting is what type of commercial development will happen in the area. Long-range plans approved at City Hall show the area just north and east of the new interchange eventually housing a neighborhood commercial type of development, so think a bank, coffee shop, liquor store, bulk candy corn superstore and that sort of thing. (Sorry. For some reason I can’t get candy corn off my mind today. I also can’t get my hands to stop shaking.)

New development in the area, though, will be tempered by one fact: Lawrence still has a ton of empty building lots. At the end of 2011, a City Hall report estimated that there were 1,746 lots in the city that have been platted but not built upon. The majority of them — about 1,200 — are what you would consider shovel-ready. That means all the infrastructure is in place for a house or apartment to be built on the lot.

Based on current housing trends, the city estimated the inventory of vacant lots is large enough to last for a little more than 18 years. Even if housing activity returns to the type of robust trend seen a decade ago, the number of empty lots would last for about nine years.

But none of those numbers is likely to stop developers from adding new lots if they feel they have a real winner of a location. Being next to a road — the SLT — that can cut commute times to both Topeka and Kansas City, likely will attract new residential development.

From the information filed at City Hall, it looks like the folks at Alvamar Inc. and Lawrence builder Bob Santee are behind this most recent development request.

• Not all new development in northwest Lawrence is residential in nature. Some of it is waistline in nature.

I’m talking about a new clothing alteration shop that has opened at the northeast corner of Sixth and Wakarusa. Alterations by Sarah has opened at 4801 Bauer Farm Drive, right next to Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt. (An alteration shop next to a dessert business: Is that what we call synergy?)

The company is run by the same folks who operate six Alterations by Sarah in Wichita. The company does everything from fixing zippers to modifying wedding dresses. Sam Arif, who is a son of the founders of the Wichita chain, said the northwest part of Lawrence seems to be picking up momentum again when it comes to housing and apartment development. That potential residential growth led him to look at opening the store at Sixth and Wakarusa.

He said the alteration business has fared OK during the economic downturn, in part, because it can help people be more frugal.

“One of the biggest things about alterations is we can help customers get all their clothes to fit better, which is significantly less expensive than buying new clothes,” Arif said. “That’s a point that we try to get across to people in these times.”

The store is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. The alteration shop also has created a partnership with Hygienic Dry Cleaners to serve as a drop off and pick up location for the dry cleaning company.

• One thing that has been known to alter my waistline over the years is slices of breakfast pizza from Casey’s General Store. (What? I suppose that's not a healthy breakfast either? It is a dairy-rich product.)

Lawrence doesn’t have a Casey’s store, but I hear that could change in the future. This is all unconfirmed, so take it for whatever you think it is worth, but I have heard that representatives from Casey’s have been looking at sites in Lawrence, particularly in northwest Lawrence.

I don’t have any specifics on a location, and from what I’ve heard, a deal is not yet imminent. But believe it or not, I do occasionally get asked questions by readers about whether a Casey’s is ever going to locate in Lawrence. So, I thought I would pass along the rumor.

If a Casey’s does locate in Lawrence, it may have implications beyond breakfast pizza. I have no proof of this, but I think Casey’s is pretty aggressive when it comes to pricing gasoline. In other words, they’ll lower some prices to try to get business, and then other retailers end up having to match them. I say this because I reported several times over the last year how gasoline prices in Eudora were significantly cheaper than in Lawrence, just six miles down Kansas Highway 10. On some days, it was 10 cents to 12 cents cheaper per gallon. One difference between Lawrence and Eudora’s gasoline markets is that Eudora has a Casey’s store, and it seems the Eudora Kwik Shop always will match that price.

But who knows if that is really the case? It may just be the breakfast pizza talking.


somedude20 5 years, 6 months ago

Happy show me your pumpkins!!

Eddie_Haskell 5 years, 6 months ago

No Casey's in Lawrence! Those are only for small WT towns.

Joe Berns 5 years, 6 months ago

PFFT, Casey's has the BEST pizza.
Its a long drive through Lawrence out to Eudora to get a couple pizzas and then back to Kasold street.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 6 months ago

Nero Wolfe always said pfft! when he was upset about something. I read all of the books. The author Rex Stout is from Kansas you know. He graduated from KU.
"To say that man is a reasoning animal is a very different thing than to say that most of man's decisions are based on his rational process. That I don't believe at all."
Rex Stout
Time to read.

FlintHawk 5 years, 6 months ago

Excuse my ignorance: What is a "WT" town?


FlintHawk 5 years, 6 months ago

Thanks, Curtis. I googled, but got only text-speak: "What the . . .?" Some things we're better off not knowing . . .

Joe Berns 5 years, 6 months ago

Where is NW Lawrence? I mean, NE Lawrence is north of the river, SE Lawrence is Prairie Park, SW Lawrence is south of 23rd out to the lake. West Lawrence is everything from 23rd north to Free State. There really isn't anything else out there (yet). We have no NW Lawrence.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 6 months ago

I just looked on Google Maps and I found what would be NW Lawrence. You can find all sorts of directions on maps! Who knew?

Joe Berns 5 years, 6 months ago

really? I just looked on google maps also and there is no mention of NW lawrence.

So where is it? We have no north west lawrence. We have a nothernmost west lawrence section, but no northwest lawrence. That will eventually be where the turnpike entrance/exit is out west of town.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 6 months ago

And what you call NE Lawrence is clearly labeled North Lawrence. Maps are fun!

somebodynew 5 years, 6 months ago

Well, I haven't looked but I doubt any map has Old West Lawrence listed, but most anybody (who has been here a couple of days) knows about where that is without having to have it spelled out for them.

LegendaryBeast 5 years, 6 months ago

Uh, every place has a NW part. May not be labeled on a map as such. May be covered with water or ice in some places but it's still the NW part. You see, a compass is a circle and it can be broken down into ALL KINDS of sections. If your compass on your map is pointing with N directly at the top, then the NW part is the quadrant in the top left part of the map. If something gets built in that top left part then it's relative location is in the NW. Paul, is that really too hard to understand? No, they didn't put up a sign or a line of tape all the way around the quadrant to denote that it is the NW part of town. That's just kind of implied...because it's in the NW part of town. No official (or unofficial) designation needed.

somebodynew 5 years, 6 months ago

Yes, and if you have lived here any length of time you know that the area north of the river is just North Lawrence, not NE. NE refers to north of 15th but not over the river. Most North Lawrencians (Sand Rats) would take umbrage at being labled NE.

Chad Lawhorn 5 years, 6 months ago

I'm not sure anyone cares anymore, but for the record, I consider northwest Lawrence generally to be west of Wakarusa and north of Harvard. The idea of northwest Lawrence gained steamed many years ago when the city created a planning document called the Northwest Area Plan. Thanks, Chad

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 6 months ago

Think again, Sunny Jim! Oh, observant one, name me some names that are in NW Lawrence. Thank you. No, wait, was he that guy that ran around in funny looking clothes in the desert? I saw that movie.

bevy 5 years, 6 months ago

YIPPPEEEE Casey's Breakfast Pizza - now if I can't get it at Perry on my way through, I will be able to pick it up in town. Chad, maybe they will even have candy corn for you. Wait, this is bad news for my diet.

One question - I thought it was made abundantly clear not that long ago that additional building on that side of town could not be supported by the existing water/sewer treatment infrastructure? Hoping that is still the case, gotta stop these mad apartment builders before they get too far north and west.

bevy 5 years, 6 months ago

Hey Chad - just saw this little tidbit while looking up stats for how much Americans spent on candy corn in 2011, and thought of you: "And here’s a fun fact: Candy companies produced about 35 million pounds of candy corn this year—that’s 27 candy corns for each and every American. Have you eaten your candy corn allotment yet?"

Flap Doodle 5 years, 6 months ago

bevy, I tried to find some of the candy corn Oreos, but Target was out by the time I got there. :(

Smarmy_Schoolmarm 5 years, 6 months ago

I may be a Pollyanna but I'd love to see a Langston Hughes neighborhood in Langston's old neighborhood.

bearded_gnome 5 years, 6 months ago

^^ Plus the completion of the eastern leg of the trafficway will help too.

---shhhh Chad, if you keep talkin' like that, why they'll start sayin'n you hate injuns, the invronmint, swamps I mean wetlands, etc.
you better be careful about such loose talk.

so I learn from this that if I just ask you a bunch of times about the coming of a restaurant I can start it as a rumor? okay thn. consider this the thousandth time I've asked you if Der Wienerschnitzel is coming to Lawrence?

FlintHawk 5 years, 6 months ago

Popeyes!! But if Der Wienerschnitzel sells decent hot dogs, then I'm in.

Curtis Lange 5 years, 6 months ago

Casey's gas is terrible. Lawrence needs a second QuikTrip before they'll ever need a crappy Casey's.

FlintHawk 5 years, 6 months ago

bearded one: I googled and learned. The closest they are is in Western Colorado, nothing in the Front Range. Makes me think we'll be waiting a l-o-n-g time. But the menu!! I haven't found a decent dog in Lawrence. (= {

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

Adding miles and miles and miles of new infrastructure is like adding miles and miles and miles of new taxes. In a bedroom community this is not expanding the tax base it is expanding our tax bills.

How in the world can Lawrence afford to spend on new projects that truly add NEW expense for the community to maintain?

With increased numbers of residential you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by residential housing does not pay for the services they require from a municipality.

It is not the responsibility of the taxpayer to insure sweet profits for speculating developers.

Reckless growth has been rightly blamed for many things: destroying green space, increasing air and water pollution, fracturing our neighborhoods and forcing us to drive local gridlocked roads for every chore.

But there is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned. Developers are draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

Have we forgotten? It is the banking industry and the housing industry that has taken our economy down the tubes twice in recent years. Reagan/Bush and Bush/Cheney.

Plenty in Lawrence owe more on than their mortgages than their property is worth. Adding more and more and more residential inventory to the market can further deplete the market value of local residential properties.

Paul Wilson 5 years, 6 months ago

"Reagan/Bush and Bush/Cheney." Nice try leftie. It's Congress and their regulations, or lack there of, that took economy "down the tubes". Who had control of Congress during those years? That's right...Democrats. Ask Barney Frank.

akuna 5 years, 6 months ago

1700+ vacant lots! And we're considering adding more! What the huh?

I hope any additions to the City's footprint aren't on the taxpayers dime. Adding to and maintaining additional infrastructure is not a good investment at this time for the city. If the developers are keen on building a neighborhood there solely because it is a "convenient" location, then the developers need to pay for the infrastructure too.

We (the city) have plenty of supply and not enough demand. Why dilute what we already have further? Let's try not to shoot ourselves in the arse and look around wondering who pulled the trigger.

lunacydetector 5 years, 6 months ago

a casey's general thing we'll be reading about is waffle house is looking at nw lawrence.

Paul Williams 5 years, 6 months ago

More important.. is the Basil Leaf closed for good?

FlintHawk 5 years, 6 months ago

Good question. I'd also like to know.

Paul Williams 5 years, 6 months ago

They are open today. Must have needed a few days off. Whew!

bearded_gnome 5 years, 6 months ago

^^ --indeed, but lawrence is a big town for franchises and I'm sure hoping.

merrill worries about government taxes even as out of the other sides of his mouth he keeps on advocating for very very big government. yeah, riiight.
marxist merrill. according to him, private property isn't private anymnore.

Alex Keiffer 5 years, 6 months ago

No Casey's General Store in Lawrence?! That's rather odd. I'd say go for it, and work toward bringing in a Casey's. They do have good pizza.

And while you're at it, Lawrence, how about working toward bringing Old Navy back to town? Olive Garden, perhaps? Maybe even Outback Steakhouse?

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