Archive for Monday, September 17, 2012

Town Talk: Maceli’s undergoing major renovation; a new location for brews, blues, BBQ, and a warning about bikers in Spandex; city to start annexation process for KU sports site

September 17, 2012


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News and notes from around town:

• Soirée season soon will be upon us. Yeah, I know, it sounds like something there should be a vaccine for. But my credit card statement from all the fine clothiers in Lawrence indicates there definitely has been no cure for it in the Lawhorn house. (And just this morning, my wife was talking about the need for a sparkly belt. Sparkly, I’ve learned, is code for expensive.)

Well, one of Lawrence’s great soirée venues is getting a new sparkle to it. Maceli’s, 1031 N.H., is undergoing a significant renovation. Owner Steve Maceli told me work is wrapping up to add a new mezzanine level to the banquet and catering hall.

The mezzanine level will allow Maceli’s to easily host banquets and wedding receptions of 400 people. Maceli told me the mezzanine will be equipped with banquettes, which will allow for casual dining while people gaze upon the main ballroom. (What the heck is going on? Why are we using French words every other sentence?) In case you didn’t know, a banquette is sort of a fancy little sofa with a half-booth around it, Maceli said. He also said for certain parties the mezzanine area could be converted into a larger bar area. (Trust me, I didn’t have to look up what that meant.)

The mezzanine is just part of the expansion at the facility. The small front room of the building, called the Bistro Room, also will get expanded slightly. Maceli said the room will expand into some unused space in the adjacent Scotch Dry Cleaners facility, which is Maceli’s landlord.

In addition, look for new drapery, new LED lighting, and something called a “light curtain,” which I’m told is a fancy type of picture backdrop that gets brides all excited. (I’m sure the grooms are thrilled too. They just don’t show it.)

The renovations come a few months after Maceli pulled out of a deal to renovate the old Masonic Temple building in downtown for use as a second location for his business. (As we’ve previously reported, the temple building is now set to become a church.)

“My future is right here in this building,” Maceli said. “I’m not moving.”

Maceli said he is betting that Downtown Lawrence becomes even more popular for wedding receptions, conferences and other large events. The addition of more hotel rooms in downtown — his facility is just over a block from the proposed hotel at Ninth and New Hampshire — will help, he said.

“The hotel is going to be great for downtown,” Maceli said. “Now, we just need to get more stores to keep their businesses open until 8 o’clock. I think all the restaurants downtown are going to feel quite a boost from the hotel, and I think the stores would too.”

• Speaking of soirées (hey, if I spend the time to look up how to spell it, I’m going to use it a lot), the folks at Ballard Community Center are trying to remind folks their big soirée of the season has a new location.

The annual Ballard B3: Blues, Brews and Barbeque event is set from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday at the Clinton Lake Softball Complex, near Wakarusa Drive and the South Lawrence Trafficway.

The event — which raises funds for Ballard’s early education programs — will feature food from six competitive barbecue teams, beer from 10 area breweries, and four blues bands

In past years, the B3 event has been held in South Park. But on Saturday, South Park will be filled with hundreds of riders participating in the Bike MS 2012, a fundraiser for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Bicyclists will be overnighting at South Park, so don’t get your events confused. A biker in Spandex is one of the few things on Earth that can dampen my appetite for beer and barbecue.

In case you’re interested, the six barbecue teams lined up for the event are: Butt’s R’ Us; Sweet Old Buzzards BBQ; Smoke-N-Things; Rock Your Belly BBQ; 3 Alarm Smokers; and Stringtown BBQ. The breweries scheduled to participate are: 23rd Street Brewery; 75th Street Brewery; Barnyard Beer; Boulevard Brewery; Crown Valley; Free State Brewery; High Noon Saloon; Summit Brewing; Tallgrass; and Weston Brewery.

And finally, the four blues band are: The Billy Bats; Ellie Smith & the Commotion; Slow Ya Roll; and the headline band, Josh Vowell & The Rumble.

If you see Josh, tell him you’re glad he got some of his cousin’s talent. Yes, Josh is my cousin.

Tickets are available at the Ballard Center, 708 Elm, or online at

• Maybe in future years, you’ll be able to attend B3 at the Clinton Lake Softball Complex, eat and drink all the brews and barbecue you like, and then drive up the South Lawrence Trafficway and work it all off at a new northwest Lawrence recreation center.

City commissioners on Tuesday will have another discussion about whether to move forward with that plan, and if so, where.

As we have reported, the leading site now is just north of the northeast corner of Sixth Street and the SLT on ground that the Kansas University Endowment Association is poised to buy for a KU track and field, soccer and softball complex.

Commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday will formally start the process for those 110 acres to be annexed into the city limits. The process will involve a hearing at the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission, and then come back to the City Commission. So, it will be a few months before that site can get annexed and rezoned.

What will be interesting, though, is whether city commissioners spend any time looking at another possible site for the recreation center. City Commissioner Mike Amyx told me he still wants to see a detailed cost comparison of how much it would cost the city to build a new recreation center/youth fieldhouse at city-owned land near Wakarusa and Overland, versus how much it would cost to build on the KU site.

The 29 acres of city-owned land, which is near Free State high and Wal-Mart, wouldn’t accommodate both a recreation center and the KU components. At the moment, I think there is a strong desire among commissioners to co-locate with KU.

But it will be interesting to see what the public’s reaction is when the numbers Amyx has requested are released. A preliminary analysis indicates the city will save about $5.5 million in infrastructure costs if it locates on the Wakarusa and Overland site versus the KU site. And as Amyx argues, the city-owned site is closer to more existing residences that could use the center.

Another interesting item to watch is whether the city continues to pursue a partnership with Lawrence businessman Thomas Fritzel to build the facility and then buy it from him on a 20-year lease-purchase agreement. The city has been interested in the partnership because Fritzel’s non-profit foundation has indicated it will contribute to the financing of the project so that the partnership could build more building than the city could on its own.

But the details of that equation are changing a bit. Previously, the city had estimated that it could build about a $16.5 million building on its own. What has been proposed as part of a Fritzel partnership is a building worth $22.5 to $25 million. But now, the city has revised the number it can do on its own. That’s because the city recently went to the debt market for some other projects, and now has a better idea of what type of interest rates it currently can obtain on its debt. The new analysis by the city projects it could build an $18.8 million building on its own, based on the most recent interest rates.

So, there is still a difference there between what the city can do on its own and what could be accomplished with a Fritzel partnership. But the Fritzel partnership has created questions in the public, in part, because Fritzel has never made a public presentation about what he is proposing to do. As interest rates are projected to go down further, it will be interesting to see whether commissioners proceed with a partnership or think it will be easier politically to go it alone.

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday.


joes_donuts 5 years, 9 months ago

City needs to slow down and look at all options for the Rec center. I commend Commissioner Amyx for wanting to take the time and do an cost analysis. Why we are in such a hurry to spend over $20 million is beyond me. If the deal is there now, it will still available 6 months from now.

Patricia Davis 5 years, 9 months ago

Yes, to slowing down this train which is on a collision course with the reality of spiked property taxes after Sam What Am's tax cuts go through.

Lawrence Morgan 5 years, 9 months ago

This is top reporting, as always.

But take a look at my article, under Reader's Blogs, as well. It suggests a completely different approach to cities and funding: "Why can't Lawrence and Kansas kids have what Kalamazoo, Michigan students have."

I believe the City Commissioners are taking too rushed an approach. They are not being honest with the public. They need to consider completely different options, as well, such as the ones I mention in this article. And there have been some very thoughtful comments on this article, too.

The Journal-World has also recently had an editorial on the subject, as well, which provides additional thinking about this very important subject.

Why are the City Commissioners moving so quickly, so rushed, on a subject which could involve the lives of thousands in Lawrence, without even having disclosed full information to the public?

parrothead8 5 years, 9 months ago

People are allowed to do lots of things in public that I wish I could escape from - smoking, driving huge vehicles poorly, spitting tobacco juice are a few that come to mind. I deal with it, so can you.

A hint: Nobody wears spandex to be proud. We wear it because it reduces chafing, doesn't get caught up in moving parts, and dries quickly during an activity in which we sweat a lot. I don't live to impress you, so please look elsewhere if you don't like it.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 9 months ago

Yes, looking away works for me. But I've noticed that whenever a child is told to look elsewhere, their natural curiosity causes them to do the opposite. So however much or how little is shown, be aware that children will see all there is to be seen.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 9 months ago

Odd, I have saw a lot of bikers in spandex, but have never noticed that. You must be looking pretty hard if you think you can see something.

local_support 5 years, 9 months ago

Won't someone PLEASE think of the CHILDREN!

jhawkinsf 5 years, 9 months ago

It's not surprising that a city like San Francisco, with it's anything goes attitude, also has the smallest percentage of children of any major American city. It's quite common for young adults to live there, party there, work there, and when they become parents, move. That's a direction I'd rather not see emulated here. But, hey, that's just my opinion.

irvan moore 5 years, 9 months ago

the reason the commission is in such a rush is because hopefully the next commission will do what is best for the citizens and not what is best for the developers

somedude20 5 years, 9 months ago

Spandex is NOT for everyone although Spandau Ballet is.

joes_donuts 5 years, 9 months ago

If anywhere, this sports complex should be located next to downtown, on Fritzel's (I believe it is his land) North Lawrence (Mass) Boardwalk land. Forget about KU, let them worry about their own facilities.

Building next to downtown would:

-Be cheaper because utilities are already there

  • Enhance downtown

  • Be located near population, not in a field outside town(I know this is suppose to be a west lawrence facility, but lets call it what it really is, a Mega Complex, not a neighborhood rec center). And if it is a neighborhood facility, North Lawrence doesn't have a neighborhood facility.

  • Spur infill development in North Lawrence, a gateway to our downtown from I-70

  • Fill downtown hotels 35 weekends of the year (that is how many tournament they said it could produce.

  • Turn The Kansas River Levee/North Mass development into a recreational mecca that people from all over will travel to.

  • Increase retail sales downtown due to down time between tournament games.

joes_donuts 5 years, 9 months ago

worse than a corn field requiring $5 million in infrastructure upgrades?

Lee Saylor 5 years, 9 months ago

One of the reasons to build a rec center where are no current neighbors has to do with the city's expericence trying to put a rec center into established neighborhoods. The city tried to buy a church on Kasold for a rec center and the neighbors opposed it. The city tried to build a rec center on Rockledge and the neighbors opposed it.

flyin_squirrel 5 years, 9 months ago

I don't think the River or Train Tracks will oppose it in North Lawrence.

Lawrence Morgan 5 years, 9 months ago

I think joes_donuts has a great idea! It's one of the best ideas I've heard.

Busses all go downtown from all parts of the city, as well as cars and bicycles, and it would greatly enhance North Lawrence as part of Lawrence!

But again, take a look at my blog currently on the front page. It suggests a completely different idea for the community. It could be that we could have both!

If KU wants to do something different, let them - with their money, not with Lawrence community money. Lawrence community money needs to be spent with Lawrence needs in mind.

Michelle Fales 5 years, 9 months ago

No, Crown Construction is. Doing a very nice job.

akt2 5 years, 9 months ago

Tour de Spandex AKA old 10 highway and N 1500. Cyclists riding 2 abreast in packs of 6 or 8 on a 2 lane highway and blacktop. Not much room to look away. Although I haven't seen anything that remarkable or disgusting. You see it full on whether you are driving towards them, or my favorite is driving behind them at 5 mph waiting for the opportunity to pass. Throw in a combine, a 4-wheel drive truck with an Eat Beef front plate and something resembling male testicles dangling from the bumper and you get the complete Tour experience.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 9 months ago

You sound like a five year old girl, trying very hard and failing dismally. In other words, just plain silly.

classclown 5 years, 9 months ago

" Nobody wears spandex to be proud"

That's probably a good thing since most that wear it have nothing to be proud about.

It's easy to tell someone not to look, but it's like butt cleavage. It's an eye magnet. You don't want to look, but your eyes get drawn to it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

Hmm-- If I have to choose between actually seeing the average bike rider (who tends to be in pretty good shape) in spandex, and imagining you, I'll take the former.

classclown 5 years, 9 months ago

"The undesirable view is obscured while they are riding. It is when one of these guys walk into a coffee shop."

Maybe they should get those wrap around skirts that chicks wear with their bikinis. Keep them in their fanny packs and when they get off their bikes, wrap them around themselves so as to not be obscene.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 9 months ago

I thought KU had a different piece of land? on the opposite side of K-10?

If so why annex anything new?

What exactly is going on?

Does anyone know?

Taxpayers do not City Hall to spend more millions on the PLAY project. The USD 497 already blew $20 million $$$$$ on this PLAY project.

I read recently that low interest rate encourages needless and reckless spending that most always comes back to bite taxpayers in the butt.

Chad Lawhorn 5 years, 9 months ago

The land KU is proposing to build on is on the other side of the highway than the piece that was offered to the city by a group led by Lawrence businessman Duane Schwada. But the KU land isn't in the city limits. To build a sports complex with a soccer, softball and track stadiums — even if it doesn't include a a city rec center — it will need to be annexed into the city limits.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 9 months ago

This project is too risky for local taxpayers. Too many assumptions, too much speculation and no one is sure when changes to this project will stop. Obviously not well thought out.

If we want to make Lawrence,Ks more attractive to whatever how about a grand display of fiscal responsibility instead of doing not necessary expansion that will effectively raise our taxes forever.

How can Lawrence taxpayers get the best bang for our 1994 sales tax bucks and improve the quality of life for more families and our public school students?

How about if Lawrence,Kansas rehabilitates our elementary schools by using 10%-15% of the 1994 sales tax money to reduce our property taxes? To assist USD 497 in the rehab project. Let our 1994 sales tax dollars be a team player.

Additionally I say a NW neighborhood rec center could still be constructed cloae to Free State HIgh School with 2 gyms and a walking/jogging track for public exercise probably for about $10 million. Plus include additional court space at East Lawrence and Holcomb Rec Centers for maybe another $3 million.

Now we have achieved shoring up the alleged lack of court space and improved the quality of life for our public school students throughout Lawrence,Kansas.

In doing the above Lawrence,Kansas has effectively improved the quality of life for more families throughout the community as well as improved property values for more families. This is definitely within the spirit of the 1994 sales tax that was approved by families throughout the community. A best bang for our 1994 sales tax dollars.

BringBackMark 5 years, 9 months ago

It appears the lease/purchase option is just a convenient way to avoid publicly bidding the project. In my opinion, with construction costs being what they currently are, it's silly not to bid any project. It appears KU is moving forwards regardless of what the City does. It's time to slow down, assess all of the options, determine how a facility will be paid for, and then (if feasible) proceed.

lawrencereporter 5 years, 9 months ago

Breaking news today is that Fritzels father-in-law John Stewart is the KU mega donor calling all the shots. Insiders say "the Fritzels have made a living riding on Stewarts back". The puzzle pieces are coming together, slowly but surely. More to come.

Budgets_Smudgets 5 years, 9 months ago

"It appears the lease/purchase option is just a convenient way to avoid publicly bidding the project..."


classclown 5 years, 9 months ago


Hmm-- If I have to choose between actually seeing the average bike rider (who tends to be in pretty good shape) in spandex, and imagining you, I'll take the former.

September 17, 2012 at 9:59 p.m


Are you saying you have a little sugar in your tank?

lunacydetector 5 years, 9 months ago

the city, or we the people, sure do subsidize the hell out of k.u........where's the the 'growth never pays' mantra by the k.u. employed.....oh, it's government, that's different.

Windemere 5 years, 9 months ago

Highest priority for new rec center is gym space (8 - 12 of them). These new gyms should be in west side since rec center facilities (other than indoor aquatic) are lacking there vs. central and east sides of town.

Can we get a clear justification/rationale for why the city's rec facility ought to be paired with whatever KU does? Why is this necessarily a good thing? Can a commissioner enlighten us?

Norm Jennings 5 years, 9 months ago

Insert half-knowledgeable yet angry diatribe against the city commission. Insert even less knowledgeable, senseless, though still angry diatribe against KU. Insert previous rants against growth, and against spending on anything other than your own pet projects.

There, everyone can now go back to ogling spandex-wearing bike riders (and complaining about it)

You're welcome, enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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