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Archive for Sunday, September 30, 2012

Developers alter 9th and N.H. building plans

September 30, 2012

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Construction work on a new multistory hotel at Ninth and New Hampshire streets could begin in November, and when it does, the plans may be slightly different from what the public last saw.

Doug Compton, who leads the group planning to build the new extended-stay Marriott at the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire, said November is a likely time for construction work to begin on the project. He also said work to construct a seven-story apartment building on the northeast corner of the intersection could begin in March.

“It is going to get busy down there,” Compton said.

The development group also confirmed that it has altered its plans for the hotel building. The plans no longer include a rooftop restaurant, but none of the changes will affect the height or size of the building. The changes include:

• The top floor of the hotel now will house three condo units instead of the rooftop restaurant.

• The hotel building no longer will include any apartments, and as such, the number of hotel rooms will increase from 81 units to 92 units.

• The rooftop pool of the hotel will be moved to an enclosed area on the first floor.

• Since the main floor lobby no longer will need to accommodate an entrance to rooftop restaurant, the developers are proposing to expand the ground floor retail space by 400 square feet.

The letter also notes that the 121-unit, seven-story apartment building on the northeast corner is being designed with a rooftop pool to serve those residents.

Scott McCullough, director of planning and development services for the city, said the changes will not require the project to be reviewed by the city’s Historic Resources Commission again. Instead, the changes can be administratively approved as part of the city’s site plan process.

Before work can start on the northeast apartment building, however, the City Commission must rule on whether a requested roundabout for the Ninth and New Hampshire intersection should be allowed. The city hasn’t yet set a date to hear that issue.

When construction work begins on the two Ninth and New Hampshire buildings, it will mark one of the busier construction periods in downtown’s history. In addition to the new multistory buildings, work is expected to begin before the end of the year on the $19 million library and parking garage project at Seventh and Vermont streets.

Comments

David Holroyd 2 years, 2 months ago

No roundabout if it ends up as crappy as what we are stuck with now. Ugly and far too big for the square intersections they are in. Why have a roundabout just to speed up to stoplight on Mass 350 ft or less away. FedEx and UPS. Trucks downtown do not deserve the aggravation.

gccs14r 2 years, 2 months ago

At least FedEx and UPS are primarily in straight trucks. The beer trucks are articulated, and the trailer axle is pretty far back. I don't see how they can put in a symmetrical rotary of navigable size without moving a couple of hundred meters of New Hampshire 10+ meters east.

flyin_squirrel 2 years, 2 months ago

No rent controlled apartments were proposed with this.

No rooftop restaurant will actually help downtown since there are already too many restaurants downtown.

More retail on the first floor will help downtown, since we need to change the trend of retail leaving downtown.

Restaurant may have been a incentive on the tax breaks, but if there are condos, that will increase the property tax for the city.

flyin_squirrel 2 years, 2 months ago

2nd point- agree, just me surmising.

3rd point- Agree but we need to keep more retail downtown. The trend towards downtown becoming an entertainment district is not good for Lawrence or Downtown's future.

4th point- Again, my opinion (that that is why i said they may have been an incentive for the tax breaks) but condos at Hobbs Taylor sell for $350,000 and up, so the city will still get more in property tax off one of those condos than it get now off the entire vacant lot right now.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

1) The city won't be getting any property taxes for about 20 years. So the answer is, no, the city is not better off.

2) The primary benefit of the restaurant was for the patrons of the hotel. The city will lose out on sales taxes, but most of those would have come from taxes no longer collected from competing restaurants, and any jobs created would likely have come at the expense of lost jobs at other downtown restaurants.

3) The city will gain through the collection of hotel guest taxes. But those are earmarked for specific purposes, and don't go into the general fund, so other taxpayers will still need to make up for all of the taxes abated on this project.

4) no

jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Seems to me that if projects are approved, particularly with incentives, that any changes to those projects after approval should be very seriously scrutinized, to make sure that the changes wouldn't have affected the approval and incentives.

Why wouldn't the developers just present the plans before approval, rather than changing them afterwards?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

"Why wouldn't the developers just present the plans before approval, rather than changing them afterwards?

Because that would detract from the "bait and switch" prerogative that developers in Lawrence have always enjoyed-- it's better to ask forgiveness than permission, since they'll always find foreignness.

jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Seems to me that the burden should be on the developers to demonstrate that the changes don't affect any of the reasons the city decided to approve the project, and grant various incentives.

Assuming, of course, that the city is in fact making a reasonably intelligent cost-benefit analysis in the first place, which may not be at all the case.

Condos are obviously different from a restaurant, and hotel rooms from apartments.

flyin_squirrel 2 years, 2 months ago

So everyone complains about too many apartments in town, and now you are complaining about hotel rooms replacing the apartments...

jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm "complaining" about developers who get projects with incentives approved, and then change those projects.

That should be accompanied by significant evidence that the changes will not affect the reasons the city approved the projects, and granted them incentives.

To do otherwise is to allow "bait and switch" tactics, and not do our due diligence.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

He was complaining about the lack of process to determine whether these changes are detrimental to the city as a whole, and the apparent unilateral ability of the developers to make whatever changes they wish, despite the considerable public investment in this project.

flyin_squirrel 2 years, 2 months ago

You are putting the cart before the horse. Who says the city isn't going to require that? This is only the first step, and all the city said was the HRC (which is a joke) will not need to review the plans again.

jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Well, let's wait and see what happens.

I predict that this will be a pretty quick and easy administrative approval of the changes, without substantive discussion and debate about them, or any sort of concrete analysis.

flyin_squirrel 2 years, 2 months ago

knowing how our city hall works, this will take 6 to 8 months and then it will be passed. We all know what the city's answer is going to be, but they will drag it out to look like they are doing their due diligence, then pass it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

"Scott McCullough, director of planning and development services for the city, said the changes will not require the project to be reviewed by the city’s Historic Resources Commission again. Instead, the changes can be administratively approved as part of the city’s site plan process."

This indicates that it'll get passed on through without any input from anyone but city staff, who will almost certainly approve it.

Clara Westphal 2 years, 2 months ago

PLEASE!! NO more roundabouts. There are too many already.

irvan moore 2 years, 2 months ago

why are they going to waste time talking about the roundabout, if doug wants a roundabout, they will give doug a roundabout

George_Braziller 2 years, 2 months ago

If he doesn't there may be another convenient incendiary incident.

Randall Uhrich 2 years, 2 months ago

There are going to be 92 hotel rooms and 121 apartments in these two units. Where the hell are all these people going to park their cars!?! There's not even enough space to put parking garages for all of them! I don't think the developers and planning commissioners have thought this through. Slow down and think.

gccs14r 2 years, 2 months ago

There is subterranean parking planned for both buildings.

Joe Adams 2 years, 2 months ago

You'll just confuse people if you don't call it underground parking... :)

flyin_squirrel 2 years, 2 months ago

They have underground parking garages that will meet code. If you wanted to complain about lack of parking for a structure, you should have been complaining about the Oread Hotel. They only have 100 parking spaces for 100 hotel rooms, 13 condos, 6 bars (that hold over a 1000 people combined), 2 restaurants, 2 fast food joints, one coffee shop, one salon, and one retail space.

scaramouchepart2 2 years, 2 months ago

Why bother deleting H2020. The developer makes the changes they planned on with Scott's ok. Why bother with a public hearing if Scott is not going to make the developer follow the approved plans. This is hardly the first time a neighborhood worked for a compromise and got up on morning and found something completely, you might say substantially, different than what was approved.

james bush 2 years, 2 months ago

How About a mineret in the middle of that Roundabout.......with loudspeakers!

chumchuum 2 years, 2 months ago

You morons in Lawrence continue to taken for a ride! He just saved a couple of hundred thousand dollars by not putting the rooftop pool and top floor restaurant in. This went from a really cool downtown building to another piece of crap apartment building. You got screwed again! Ha!

pizzapete 2 years, 2 months ago

Hey I agree, but no need to rub it in. It does appear we've been taken for a ride once again. The tax incentives were questionable before, but now they really need to be reconsidered all together. A top floor restaurant and pool would have been a cool attraction for our downtown, but instead we're getting more condos? It's too bad our city commission keeps getting involved in these deals with the optimism of a down on their luck gambling addict who's certain the next gamble will be the big payoff that will solve all their financial problems. Let's face it, the game is rigged and we're getting played once again.

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