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Archive for Thursday, September 20, 2012

Town Talk: Newest multi-story building plan proposes roundabout for Ninth and New Hampshire; city urging residents to get trash cart requests in before Monday; weekly land transfers

September 20, 2012

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News and notes from around town:

• More than just tall buildings may be coming to the intersection of Ninth and New Hampshire streets. A roundabout may be built at the intersection, too.

The city’s Historic Resources Commission will get its first look at a proposed seven-story apartment building planned for the northeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets. As previously reported, a development group led by Lawrence businessmen Doug Compton and Mike Treanor — the same group that has built the multi-story 901 N.H. apartment building and plans to build the multi-story hotel and retail building on the southeast corner of the intersection — is leading the project.

But the plans presented to City Hall have twist to them — or more accurately, a bit of a circle to them. The developers are proposing a roundabout for the busy intersection of Ninth and New Hampshire.

City Hall planners are neither recommending approval or denial of the roundabout. Instead, staff members are suggesting it is an issue that city commissioners should decide. The city’s Historic Resources staff, however, has determined a roundabout won’t damage the historical environs of the downtown area. The intersection has never had a roundabout, but from 1910 to 1929 the Roosevelt Fountain that currently is in South Park was located in the middle of that intersection. I’ve actually heard a suggestion from a local historian that the fountain be moved to the center of the new roundabout, but I haven’t heard anybody at City Hall take to that idea yet.

As interesting as roundabouts are, it will be a sideshow to what will be a debate about another skyline-altering building in Downtown Lawrence. Here are some details:

— The building is proposed to be seven stories tall. The height of the building varies from 77 feet tall at the point closest to the intersection of Ninth and New Hampshire and shortens to 68 feet at the northern edge of the building. Staff members have determined the building would be compatible in height with the Hobbs Taylor Loft Building farther north on New Hampshire Street and with the 901 Building, which is catty-corner from the proposed apartment building.

— In total, the building would have 121 apartments — with a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units — on floors two through seven. The ground floor is proposed to have space for an apartment clubhouse, a bank — presumed to be Lawrence Bank, which currently is on the site — and space for additional offices. All told, the project will have about 177,000 square feet, and could easily add more than 200 new residents to Downtown Lawrence.

— The project will include its own underground parking garage. The plans also propose to convert a portion of the public, parallel parking along New Hampshire Street into saw-tooth parking spaces.

— Obviously, the plans call for the former Black Hills Energy building, which houses Lawrence Bank and several other offices, to be demolished. (In case you are just now catching up, Black Hills Energy has moved its offices into the former headquarters building of First Management on North Iowa Street.) The city’s historic resources staff concedes that the building — although it is over 50 years old — is not historic. The building was built as a grocery store by the Kroger Co. in 1957, and later became Waymeyers grocery store until it was converted into an office building in 1981. But do you know what was originally on the lot? A hotel. The Place Hotel, according to old maps, relocated from the community of Franklin to Lawrence in the late 1860s. So, I guess you could argue, the new hotel slated for the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire will take the intersection back to its historic roots. Well, as has been proven at this intersection, you can certainly argue anyway.

So far, the city’s planning staff has viewed this project fairly positively. At the moment, the planning staff has not made any recommendation to lower the height of the building, which was a major issue for the proposed hotel/retail building at the southeast corner.

But unlike that project, this project on the northeast corner does not abut homes. The planning staff, however, is recommending the design of the building be sent to the city’s Architectural Review Committee. Staff members are suggesting that more recesses and other design elements be used to break up the mass of the building.

It will be interesting to see how this project gets received by the city’s Historic Resources Commission. This will be the first big project since the controversial hotel/retail building went through the City Hall process. City commissioners ended up unanimously setting aside the HRC’s concerns about that building, and the mayor expressed some pretty frank frustration with the group. In case you have forgotten, Mayor Bob Schumm said he thought the HRC had become “extraordinarily strict,” and that it has become “almost impossible” to win approval for a major downtown development from the group.

“I’m a little unhappy with what I see coming out of the HRC,” Schumm said in late July. “I was on the commission that created the HRC many years ago, and I said at the time I hope that it becomes an advocate for protecting our history but doesn’t become obstructionist.”

I expect some neighborhood opposition to this project, but make no mistake, the City Commission is interested in seeing this new apartment project built in downtown. But listening to the tone of the debate may be telling to see if a new attitude about downtown redevelopment has emerged.

The city’s Historic Resources Commission meets at 6:30 p.m. today at City Hall.

• Who knows, maybe this seven-story building will get constructed and no one will even notice because everybody is preoccupied with their new, city-issued trash carts.

As we previously have reported, the new city-issued trash carts will start being delivered to households on Oct. 15. But Monday also is an important date to keep in mind. If you know you absolutely are going to need a cart that is different from the standard 65-gallon cart, you need to make that request to the city prior to Monday.

Households have the option of requesting a 35-gallon cart or a 95-gallon cart. Your monthly trash rate will be $1.50 cheaper than the standard rate, if you use a 35-gallon cart. If you use a 95-gallon cart, your monthly trash rate will be $2 higher than the standard rate.

People who want to request a different cart can do by going to lawrenceks.org/carts, or calling the city at 832-3032.

If you are unsure of what size cart you need, all three sizes will be on display at the upcoming Lawrence Energy Conservation Fair. The fair is set from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at the Holcom Recreation Center, 2700 W. 27th Street.

If you don’t tell the city what size cart you would like, you will get the standard 65-gallon cart. City officials are hopeful most households give the 65-gallon cart a try before requesting a different size. If households end up with too small of a cart, that is going to be a problem because the city will be keeping track of how often people set out extra bags of trash that won’t fit into the carts. If extra trash bags are left often, the city will require you to have a larger cart, and your rate will be adjusted accordingly.

The city is placing its order for 21,000 new trash carts on Monday, which is why the city wants to know your preference now. But the city will allow people to change the size of their carts, if they find the 65-gallon cart simply doesn’t work.

Beginning on Nov. 9, the city will have a 120-day “right-sizing” period, where the city will switch out carts at no charge for residents.

There are two other dates to circle on your calendar: Nov. 9 and Nov. 16. On those two days, households can set out their unwanted trash cans to be picked up for recycling. The containers should be to the curb by 6 a.m., and should be empty of trash.

• Another week, another set of land transfers from Douglas County officials. There appeared to be no big deals that stand out, but take a look for yourself. Click here to see the complete list.

Comments

Kat Christian 1 year, 7 months ago

I would like to see the City limit the height of building to the same size like in Washington DC buildings are limited to 5 floors only. Really looks nice and you can enjoy the trees which make a lovely landscape and it doesn't feel so much like a concrete jungle. I don't mind the roundabout and it would look nice to have the fountain in the middle. I love fountains.

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Scott Batson 1 year, 7 months ago

The FHWA has a video about modern roundabouts that is mostly accurate (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhHzly... ).

Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection in the world. Search www.iihs.org for FAQs and safety facts. The safety comes from the ‘slow and go’ operation instead of the ‘stop or go fast’ way a stop light works (or the ‘keep going fast’ large traffic circle fantasy). The smaller size of the modern roundabout is what makes them safer and keeps speeds in the 20 mph range. This makes it much easier to avoid a crash or stop for pedestrians. It also means that if a crash happens the likelihood of injury is very low. Safety is the #1 reason there are over 2,400 modern roundabouts in the US today and many more on the way.

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Rusty Thomas 1 year, 7 months ago

Okay, no one really mentioned the buses. Where will they stop/park. I cannot believe the developers will want them in the current location (moved there during the development of 901 New Hampshire) as they are pretty noisy and there is usually a fairly large group waiting to ride. Also, what about the building at 120 E 9th? Most of the parking lot actually belongs to the owners of that property. Just saying - two items not mentioned in the conversation.

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eribear 1 year, 7 months ago

I would like people to stop and think about foot traffic at 9th and New Hampshire. I live and work on Mass st. and I walk past that corner at least twice a day. I don't think there is an intersection in town that currently has a round about with as much foot traffic as this one will have.

There is a huge amount of foot traffic there; every Saturday thanks to the success of the farmers market, the bus route stops on that corner in 2 places thru out the day, & don't forget about all the art events. The Lawrence Arts Center has events daily for adults and children, Final Fridays every month, not to mention countless evening events.

If there is a round about added to that corner I just hope that the foot traffic is considered before they decide on the size and height of it. Drivers and especially pedestrians will need the view to be unobstructed.

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 7 months ago

Lyn Zollner and HRC. Are one in the same. Mr Schumm. You think downtown is hard to do something. In. So is every other older neighborhood. How does Schumm explain that even HRC. Has to approve intersection improvements at 14th & Tennessee? Get that on a regular agenda and quit pussy footing around as Mayor. It's not like you are a newbie.

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lunacydetector 1 year, 7 months ago

the roundabout is a carrot to appease the little local vocal kooky contingent

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juma 1 year, 7 months ago

I lived in the UK for over 10 years so I know what a 'real' round-a-bout is. What drives me crazy in so-called enlightened Lawrence is how few drivers know the rules of the road. A roundabout is the same as a any intersection: YIELD TO THE RIGHT!!!!!!

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 7 months ago

Kirk McClure Professor mcclure@ku.edu 317 Marvin Hall p: 785.864.3888 f: 785.864.5301 http://www.sadp.ku.edu/urban-planning/people/faculty/kirkmcclure

This blog displays various papers prepared by Kirk McClure on the growth and development of Lawrence, Kansas. http://www.lawrencesmartgrowth.blogspot.com/

How government subsidies and new regulations have quietly funneled money from the local poor and the local middle class to the local rich politically connected.

This from Bill Moyers - http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/01182008/transcript.html

This from Democracy NOW - http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/18/free_lunch_how_the_wealthiest_americans

Where did $47 million Kansas tax $$$$ go? http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2012-04-27/hightower-report-workers-wages-lost-to-the-boss/

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 7 months ago

Absolutely the city is over loaded with rental properties in every section of town = lots of empty residential rooftops.

I say all of this empty housing is being built on borrowed money and unfriendly tax donations by way of the city commission.

Why? Most likely to create the illusion that Lawrence is larger than it is to somehow justify more retail when the big city boys come to down. In reality this fraud.

But with increased numbers of bedrooms you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by an onslaught of empty bedrooms does not pay for the services, they require from a municipality.

When city hall projects a budget the number of residential units is factored in however I seriously doubt that the hundreds or thousands of empty bedrooms are taken into account. Therefore it is an imminent possibility that all future budget projections will be inflated allowing elected officials to spend way more money than any fiscally responsible fiscal conservative would even consider.

Which makes an excellent case for removing most all approvals for development from the government bodies and placed into the responsibility of the largest stakeholders in any community aka the voters. Not every project would be denied however reckless spending and the appearance of conflicts of interests would be curtailed...... as it should be.

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 7 months ago

Contact Kirk McClure for urban planning thinking and advice

Job Title - Professor

Employer - Department of Urban Planning, University of Kansas

Professional Experience - Planner, teacher, researcher

Community Development Interests = Asset Management / Community Building and Organization / Economic Revitalization and Workforce Development / Homeownership Education / Lending / Neighborbood Revitalization / Public Planning / Public Policy and Advocacy / Real Estate Development (Multi-family) /Real Estate Development (Single Family)

Years in the Community Development Field more than 25 years

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volunteer 1 year, 7 months ago

Not sure if this is pertinent...but Topeka's new city manager, on the job for three weeks, fired the Planning Director (the longest tenured department head in the city) yesterday afternoon. Sorry if I was off topic.

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blindrabbit 1 year, 7 months ago

Roundabouts just like NASCAR all left turns; why don't they make some like a roads course rights and lefts?

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pace 1 year, 7 months ago

A few tickets for the 19th street traffic which refuses the legal yield to Barker street traffic might enlighten some drivers to how to use a round about.

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 7 months ago

Roundabout? Can't fix stupid. Now then if there is one, didn't the city dictate that those who are in the area requesting it would Pay? huh?

If one gets built, which it will, for god's sake design it so cars can drive easily around the circle and the buses which are downtown now.

I cant' belive that stupid continues to breed as we speak.

Or Mr. Compton, go visit the Country Club plaza and put something of substance to serve as a "roundabout" heck, for that matter go to Wellington and bring back to Lawrence an old tractor or combine.

There is not one roundabout in this town that is properly designed. Not one! Why is there a need for a five foot wide walk on the outside as there is on Barker and 19th? Why, because the City trucks park on it. That stupid thing isn't even centered in the :"square" intersection.

You want downtown to look like the Country Club plaza, Dolph will turn the J/W building into retail in the very near future , so get some class and build something of class for a roundabout if it is truly needed.

In the meantime, get Mayor Schumm off his duff and start cleaning each and every parking lot downtown. Install parking meters everywhere. Why should downtown residents be exempt from paying to park to live downtown, when the City and Mr. McCullough and the moles in Planning put those who build housing away from downtown through hell with parking requirements. Why? Because Planning has not much else to do.

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Ira Rott 1 year, 7 months ago

No, no more freaking roundabouts, especially at a busy intersection like that. Turning left, and avoiding being hit by people turning left is a nightmare in those things.

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Andini 1 year, 7 months ago

Build another roundabout! I love to drive around them in circles at least 20 times to get dizzy.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 7 months ago

Those darn round abouts routinely slow me down, delaying my trip by a second or two every time. What an inconvenience!

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puddleglum 1 year, 7 months ago

this question has not been answered:

currently I mow my grass and put in a trash can, which the city picks up monday mornings they pickup my trash on thursday (different trash can, obviously)

if we are allowed only one trash can, what do we do with the lawn clippings? can we continue to put them in a separate trash can and have them picked up on mondays as usual?

or will the 'new' trucks designed to only pickup the new trashcans not facilitate this?

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pizzapete 1 year, 7 months ago

Life is too short to be driving around in circles. I'd like to see a couple of launch and landing ramps set up so that traffic going north or south can simply jump over the cars going east and west. That ramp the city built in front of the art center just isn't big enough for any real fun.

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Thomas Bryce 1 year, 7 months ago

Driving around town, I see no shortage of "For Rent" signs despite school is already in session. Last figures posted in the LJW showed The population in Lawrence Is not growing. Enrollment is not what it used to be at KU either. Why are they Building all these new Apartments all over Lawrence when it is obvious there are virtually no new occupants?. The City commission says they allow the market to dictate whether new apartments are needing to be built. Where is the market? I understand supply and demand. We appear to have an ample supply of homes, condos and apartments for the current population. Some would say we have quite a surplus! Since Lawrence does not keep track of Occupancy rates for rental properties, it is hard to know exactly what the surplus is. I can understand New complexes to replace older ones. That is not happening in this case.

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blindrabbit 1 year, 7 months ago

The roundabouts are fun if you have a small two seater 1950's-1980's British sports car. I can take that one out west on Clinton Parkway at close to the road speed limit; another fun one, going off of Westbound Highway 40 taking left turn onto Stull Road. Don't try that in a Vette or any other American except maybe a Pontiac Fiero tho. About a year ago someone tried to go through the center of that (Clinton) one, lot's of damage.

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absolutelyridiculous 1 year, 7 months ago

No more roundabouts. Especially right there. Geez. Stupidity abound!

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patkindle 1 year, 7 months ago

it is always enjoyable to drive thru the roundabouts on a saturday or sunday morning and see all the bumpers and broken glass from the drivers that were too drunk to navigate them.

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cowboy 1 year, 7 months ago

Im pretty pro development and figure if someone wants to put up their money , go for it , but that new bldg downtown is just plain ugly , looks cheap as most of Comptons crap does.

Now we need another one ?

Theres a round about out on clinton that you can move downtown !

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Lathrup 1 year, 7 months ago

Last thing I want to see is another roundabout. We ain't in Italy for Pete's sake. And what about the large delivery trucks that are traveling TO downtown every work day?

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kernal 1 year, 7 months ago

There used to be a big water fountain in the intersection of E. Ninth St. and New Hampshire. I heard the city took it out in the 1970's; not sure why.

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Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 7 months ago

Bozo, since your asking for a painted turn lane, shouldnt you pay for it?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 7 months ago

A roundabout would be a great improvement over the current intersection. But who pays for it? I expect that Compton, et al, fully intend that everyone but they will pick up that tab.

BTW, the current intersection with unpainted turn lanes is a confusing mess. Can't the city at least repaint those lines while they decide what else to do?

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paulveer 1 year, 7 months ago

I cannot think of a roundabout in Lawrence that has not improved traffic flow at it's particular intersection, sometimes dramatically, as at 19th & Barker.

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patkindle 1 year, 7 months ago

i think a round about at 9th and new hamp is a great idea it will keep the riff raff that are too stupid to navigate them away from that area. we already have too many ignorant people up town

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 7 months ago

"But listening to the tone of the debate may be telling to see if a new attitude about downtown redevelopment has emerged."

The "new attitude" is that developers dictate what redevelopment happens, city commissioners rubber stamp it, and there will be nothing more than a pretense of debate. But there is nothing really new about that.

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MarcoPogo 1 year, 7 months ago

"The developers are proposing a roundabout for the busy intersection of Ninth and New Hampshire."

(Insert spit take here.)

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Jean Robart 1 year, 7 months ago

We don't need no stinkin' roundabouts!

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KansasLiberal 1 year, 7 months ago

On the bright side, one or more of Compton and Treanor's buildings at that intersection can become the new Lawrence Homeless Shelter in a few years, because with enrollment decreasing and tuition and gas prices increasing there won't be any need for all of those apartments.

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