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City planners recommending denial of proposed Menard’s store; Planning Commission to debate project Monday

April 19, 2013

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The latest efforts to build a new home improvement store in Lawrence already are on shaky ground.

The city’s Planning Department is now recommending city leaders reject a proposal by Menard’s to build an approximately 190,000-square-foot home improvement center on a vacant site just east of Home Depot at 31st and Iowa streets.

“We’re basically dealing with a policy issue of whether we want to continue to focus our retail development along the Iowa Street corridor, or whether we think now is the time to branch out along another arterial road, like 31st Street,” said Planning Director Scott McCullough.

The recommendation for denial goes to the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission at its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall. Ultimately, it will be up to the Lawrence City Commission to make a final ruling on the proposal.

Recommendations from the city’s professional planning staff, though, usually carry some weight with commissioners. McCullough said his department is concerned about the proposal on two fronts:

• If retail development is allowed on the proposed site — which is where the Gaslight Mobile Home Village was located — it could set a precedent for more retail development eastward along 31st Street. The city’s comprehensive plan calls for that area to be residential in nature.

• Data is beginning to show, McCullough said, that the supply of retail space in Lawrence is starting to outpace the demand for retail spending in the city.

That portion of the city’s analysis may spur debate. McCullough conceded the city’s retail market analysis for the project is using vacancy rate data and spending data from 2010, when the economy was mired in a deep downturn.

Since 2010, numbers have indicated robust activity in the city’s retail market. The city’s sales tax collections in 2012 grew by more than 5 percent, the highest annual increase since the late 1990s. A key retail statistic kept by the state — the city’s retail pull factor — increased by about 7 percent during the time period.

“There are some mixed issues we need to work through here,” McCullough said.

The difference in data could be significant. The city-produced retail vacancy rate study estimated the retail vacancy rate in 2010 was 7 percent. But a privately produced study by the commercial real estate firm Colliers International estimated the retail vacancy rate in 2012 at 5.4 percent. Due to funding and staffing issues, the city hasn’t produced a retail vacancy study since 2010, but McCullough said his office is scheduled to publish one next month.

A Menard’s spokesman on Friday didn’t have any immediate reaction to the recommendation for denial.

The store is expected to employ about 250 people. The project also proposes a future phase that would accommodate up to six smaller stores or restaurants on the outer edge of the site.

If city officials reject the Menard’s plan, it will be the second time in the last couple of years the city has rejected a proposal to build a major home improvement center. In late 2010, the city rejected a plan for Lowe’s to build a store near Sixth Street and Folks Road.

That project drew stiff opposition from neighbors and from people concerned about traffic in the area. Thus far, that hasn’t been the case with the Menard’s project. McCullough said a neighborhood association hasn’t filed objections about the plan. The 42-acre site — which currently is zoned for dense, multi-family apartment development — is adjacent to one single-family house on the east and three single-family homes on the north. Most of the site abuts Ousdahl Road, which will separate Menard’s and the existing Home Depot store.

McCullough said the idea of having two home improvement stores right next to each other did not factor into the recommendation for denial.

Currently, there is only one vacant site in the city that is zoned to accommodate a store as large as the one proposed by Menard’s: the Mercato development at the northeast corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway.

But Menard’s officials previously sent a letter to city officials saying they had no interest in that site because of a lack of housing near the location. The site is just south of where the city plans to build its $25 million recreation center, which it hopes will spur development in the area.

Comments

Loretta James 12 months ago

bambam73222@yahoo.comut">p>bambam73222@yahoo.comut something there besides menareds like olive garden their are some of us that like it wht put 2 aImilar stres next to each other.

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eugunieum 12 months ago

I actually don't care if they build one or not. A little more research on Menards and my stomach, says an Olive Garden would be better. They could put it in that building next to 5 guys that has sat empty for what 10 to 12 years?

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sunny 12 months ago

The two Long Range Planners don't live in Lawrence or Douglas County.

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eugunieum 12 months ago

We don't need Menards, Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, Red Lobster, Lowe's, etc. They might pay property taxes & everyone knows we have plenty of money, right? We are rebuilding our schools, The Fritzel Rec Center, Library, on and on. I was in a Menards once, while I wasn't impressed, that doesn't mean others might like it. Out west might be better, that way you could stop in after you had been to the rec center.

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jesse499 12 months ago

Put it in North Lawrence we're smart enough to know whats good for our part of town!!!!

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LogicMan 12 months ago

In this morning's Menard's sales insert there are eight items that I would go buy this morning, seven of which Home Depot does not carry.

Oh well Lawrence, you lost out on those sales taxes and jobs yet again.

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jesse499 12 months ago

The planners and City Commission always talk about jobs growth but unless one of our local in group of developers are involved ( rec-center and 9Th &New Hampshire) come to mind It won't gets the ok. If they are then get the rubber stamp out where it's at are what it will effect will not enter the picture just how much money gets put in these guy's pockets!

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mikekt 12 months ago

Earth to city planners !

If I would go to any store around 31st and Iowa, which I do quite frequently, why wouldn't i find it convenient to be able to visit Menard's in the same trip, on the same gallon of gasoline ?

To have Menard's next door to Home Depot would be very convenient, in a real world sense because if one store don't have it, the other guy next door, probably would .

Yes, that might make North West Lawrence a "home store desert" but the question is, how many North West Lawrence folks already come down to 31st & Iowa St, once a week, anyway ?

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Carol Bowen 1 year ago

Lawrence is not a large community. It is overwhelmingly residential, and we do not have a large enough employer base to support the residential and more retail. We need more ordinary industry like warehouses and manufacturing to become more economically balanced.

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TexasTwister 1 year ago

Let's do a study of all the whiners that are essentially pro-development but buy of all of their goods out of town. So smart! Haters will hate!

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Jack Clayton 1 year ago

For god's sake, educate yourselves about planning, economics and sustainability. You act like adding another big box store is going to end unemployment and help the vitality of Lawrence. If you hate small businesses so much perhaps you should move back to Johnson County.

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LogicMan 1 year ago

"Lawrence would not support that huge Pay-Less Cashways store that went out of business."

Patently false. The Lawrence store was their most profitable. The entire company went under, taking the Lawrence store with it, because it was a leveraged buyout that went bad.

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LogicMan 1 year ago

"There are other competitive sources in this town such as the expanded Cottin's Hardware"

That's a fine, corner hardware store, but not a supplier of the big, expensive, or bulky stuff.

"and the other lumber store on 6th street."

McCray's caters to builders, not retail.

"Both stores can special order in."

Who does that anymore? Smart people cut out the middleman and have it shipped directly to them via Amazon, etc.

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Richard Heckler 1 year ago

No matter what some of you will still be driving to KCMO metro and Topeka simply because stores shelling smoke and mirrors will not be stocking everything in sight. Most all big box stores in Lawrence,Kansas are that way.......... designed particularly for the Lawrence market.

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Richard Heckler 1 year ago

There are other competitive sources in this town such as the expanded Cottin's Hardware and the other lumber store on 6th street. Both stores can special order in. Everyday home repair needs can be found at Cottin's no problem. Much closer than KCMO or Topeka.

Lawrence would not support that huge Pay-Less Cashways store that went out of business.

Menard's can boast all they want. Sooner of later they will downsize the stock in this store instead of stocking dead inventory. Yes it will happen. Lowe's would do the same. The business is not in Lawrence,Kansas. Dead inventory is not worth one thin dime.

30%-40% of Lawrence is students = not necessarily big on do it yourself home repair. KU is cutting back on staff. Brownback put a lot of people out of work some of which hit Lawrence, Ks. City Hall puts people out of work. USD 497 has put a lot of people off the payroll.

Approximately 15,000 leave town 5 days a week working elsewhere = spending elsewhere.

I think some on this board should send a memo to city hall requesting that YOUR taxes be increased no matter how much to make up the difference lost to economic displacement. And I will send a memo gladly rescinding my share in order that a willing taxpayer can celebrate in supporting economic displacement.

The folks selling off that piece of real estate are all for just about anything so they can laugh all the way to the bank. This is about real estate sales not fiscal responsible urban economics.

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patkindle 1 year ago

this is a college town with professionals and artists we don't need anymore places that sell hammers and 2 x 4s the govt knows what is best for us

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smileydog 1 year ago

The retail spending per capita is a bogus theory used by the old hippy radicals to stifle growth. Another example of "how to kill a town". A book about Lawrence that would be deserving to be written.

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TexasTwister 1 year ago

All of this whining about how posters will drive out of town to shop at Menards or Lowe's? Give me a break! Home Depot can pull items in from their other stores if the local store doesn't have it. How ADD are you to throw a fit if the local store doesn't have it available for you to buy and take home RIGHT NOW?

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infidel 1 year ago

I'm starting to think the commissioners must be protecting Home Depot for some reson. First Lowes is denied then Menards.

I spend a lot of money in home improvement stores, unfortunately, most of it is out of town because Home Depot in Lawrence is small and doesn't have the selection or prices due to lack of commpition.

The vast majority of the 30k I've spent in the last year in home improvement stores has been in Topeka were Home Depot, Lowes and Menards compete with in a couple of blocks of each other.

It would be nice to spend my money locally, but it appears that I'll continue to support Topeka's tax base.

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infidel 1 year ago

I'm starting to think the commissioners must be protecting Home Depot for some reson. First Lowes is denied then Menards.

I spend a lot do money in home improvement stores, unfortunately, most of it is out of town because Home Depot in Lawrence is small and doesn't have the selection or prices due to lack of commpition.

The vast majority of the 30k I've spent in the last year in home improvement stores has been in Topeka were Home Depot, Lowes and Menards compete with in a couple of blocks of each other.

It would be nice to spend my money locally, but it appears that I'll continue to support Topeka's tax base.

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del888 1 year ago

"Data is beginning to show, McCullough said, that the supply of retail space in Lawrence is starting to outpace the demand for retail spending in the city"

Could it be that the spending is going down because we have to go to Kansas City or Topeka to shop!? If the citizens of Lawrence want variety or even lower prices then they have to go out of town to find it. Competition breeds lower prices. As long as Home Depot is the only game in town then we are either forced to shop there or forced to shop in another town. Topeka has a Menards, Home Depot, and Lowes. If you are looking for a particular item for the best price, you can go to Topeka and shop all 3 stores which are all conveniently located near each other. Then there's the 250 jobs. I can think of a few city commissioners and a planner who might be needing a job soon.

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In_God_we_trust 1 year ago

If Lawrence doesn't want Menards, other cities south of Lawrence would be glad to have 250 new jobs.

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Steve Jacob 1 year ago

I don't like empty storefronts, but I don't like some government group picking winners and losers in the free market.

2

OonlyBonly 1 year ago

1) For years the city has denied it's "overbuilt." Now all of a sudden it is. 2) For years the city has allowed helter-skelter development contrary to the great Master Plan. Now it's not such a good idea.

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LogicMan 1 year ago

Why does Lawrence want our sales tax dollars and jobs to keep going to Topeka and KC?

2

Tony Kisner 1 year ago

Really an issue of highest use, a Red Lobster would be more appropriate in that space.

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esteshawk 1 year ago

Price Banks has the sense to call time-out on soth Iowa development 20 years ago. He was run out of town because he was viewed as an incompetent planner that was against development. The old WalMart sat there empty for years, and now Lawrence looks just like so many other suburban developments, with an overbuilt commercial hub that is tucked into one corner of the city. The planning staff tried to warn of the consequences but the naysayers of lawrence were too stupid to listen to sense and instead listened to dollars. Now look what you have. Long range decisions should be long range, and not at the whim of "this developer is here now and no other developer will ever come along if we say no."

6

Richard Heckler 1 year ago

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

With saturated and over saturated markets you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by over saturated markets will never pay back for the services, they require from a municipality. Known as a tax increase on local property owners = who else can they tap?

Without local property owners city government could never function in such a reckless manner.

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rlsd 1 year ago

I am still ticked Lowe's was given such a hard time, great store we should have welcomed. I shop out of town, Lawrence is ruled by a few and it is not elected, it is good old boy money....

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Richard Heckler 1 year ago

Over saturation is unfriendly to business and taxpayers .... believe it. It appears that some taxpayers don't care.

And supply is up. This decade's building frenzy produced a bumper crop of new retail space—from McStrip malls built near new McMansions, to hip new boutiques in the ground floors of hip new Miami condo buildings. But as is the case with those McMansions and condos, the occupants for new retail space haven't materialized.

With new projects coming online—34 million square feet of retail space will be completed in 2008—the rate is expected to spike further to 8 percent. In the parlance of the trade, many chains are simply over-stored.

Con't http://www.newsweek.com/id/112762

Face it Menard's can only be successful if Home Depot goes out of business. Then Lawrence is left with a huge empty store that will not be generating enough tax revenues to meet demand...after taxpayers were swindled into providing all of that multi million dollar tricky street design.

BTW the economy is only getting better according to politicians NOT to the more than 11 million still unemployed.

1

Stacy Napier 1 year ago

Continue development on Iowa?? You are about out of road, unless you are going to build along US 59 the divided highway.

31st as a residential street? So you are going to make it like 19th which is a joke. 31st is a major arterial street that will go from Kasold to O Connell Rd and you want to have people live along it?

Did you idiots get your planning education out of a Cracker Jack Box?

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year ago

Let's see the names of staff members? Chad got the guts?

Let's see Chad bring us to snuff of McCullough's accomplishments in AZ before he came to KS!

2

Steven Gaudreau 1 year ago

I would like to consult for free. Here are my findings: Don't use 2010 data to make business decisions in 2013.

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Budgets_Smudgets 1 year ago

1) Constructing new big box retail stores or restaurants does not necessarily increase retail sales or improve the Lawrence economy.

2) Making it "more convenient" for us all to buy shoes, or cheap 2x4's closer to us does not necessarily increase retail sales or improve the Lawrence economy.

3) Businesses cannibalizing other businesses causes a lot of empty stores and hurts cities and neighborhood plans. And it doesn't create growth of "new jobs."

4) The City should not modify long range land use planning for every store or restaurant who wants to build here. Or we should not have a plan at all.

6

mae 1 year ago

Menards expanded in a big way recently in Wichita so it makes sense that they want to reduce shipping costs and expand revenue.

Putting it next door to Home Depot pretty much makes profit for both nil as they compete. Lowes across town was a much better idea.

I wonder if the planning commission considered sizes? A larger menards would kill home depot and create another empty large space. Not to mention lawsuits until home depot was allowed to expand on the property it has.

My opinion is allow something in west lawrence and build on that retail area. The draw of iowa is that everything is there that you need. Do the same thing out west.

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Brett McCabe 1 year ago

According to Menard's executives just a few months ago, they weren't adding any new stores because Obamacare was going to make them go bankrupt. I guess that it didn't.

There are a lot of reasons to turn this down. I lived in Wisconsin for many years and am very familiar with Menard's.

First, the jobs they say that they will add are mostly part-time, below poverty-wage jobs without insurance. A job is not a job is not a job. We have an ample supply of poor-paying jobs with bad hours already.

Second, while I am no fan of Home Depot and have no problem with competition, Menard's won't add anything to the tax base, it will just cannibalize current sales, so there will be minimal net gain to the community.

Third, we have plenty of existing retail corridor and we should not add anymore. If Menard's wants to come to town, they should buy the Malls at 23rd and Lousiana, the old Sears site, the soon-to-be defunct J.C. Pennney site, the movie-theatre site or any number of other locations that need to be revitalized.

The 23rd-Street and South Iowa corridor is a mess. It needs to be brought up to snuff - we don't need any more retail real estate, we need to revamp what we have. To prove I'm not anti-business, we should be looking to help businesses revitalize the dead zones in our current retail spots with tax or redevelopment incentives.

Finally, Menard's is just another big home improvement store with a bunch of stuff made in China - no different from any other mass retailer in America. You aren't missing anything.

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Steve Jacob 1 year ago

Why are they so worried about overbuilt retail when they approve large apartments complexes monthly with a city not growing?

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jhawk1998 1 year ago

City vs Wal-Mart Part Deux How many dollars is this going to cost the city in legal fees before building begins?

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kwilkins74 1 year ago

I wonder if Home Depot and the city of Lawrence have a "secret" deal going.

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year ago

I wonder if Chad has the gumption to provide names of staff members who denied the request?

After all, with streamlining it shouldn't be too hard.

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year ago

Again, if McCullough is responsible, the city as the wrong guy.

Gone: casino, cracker barrel, lowes, roller rink. Projects near campus, unless it is fritzel or Compton,

Streamlining! When? Let's streamline the staff! SOON!

4

2002 1 year ago

What kind of planning is going on in Lawrence. There is a market for a home improvement store of this size and there is only one location in the city where it could located and that location is on far west 6th Street?

That isn't planning at all, it is more of the same crap that this city had been subject to for years. Terrible, incompetent planning. The planners in this city worship sprawl and do whatever they can to encourage it.

The proposed location is good because it is near Home Depot so people can make one trip to the area and get that part of their shopping done. And if South Iowa is so bad, why not North or East Lawrence?

The planners are encouraging westward sprawl.

3

mineonly 1 year ago

You know us old people could get lower prices on things if these high and mighty idiots appointed to run this city would let some competition in. I figure they on this panel and all the city government leaders are taking money to keep the competition out. I ain't wrong!!!

3

LogicMan 1 year ago

Apparently sage advice goes unheeded even in times of hardship:

"Don't look a gift horse in the mouth."

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absolutelyridiculous 1 year ago

And the retail choices just keep getting worse. I cant get a good selection of shoes in this town because the low volume stores we have. Come on...lets get some competition going in this town. I will drive to Menards in Topeka because our choices stink in this town. Get a clue,city hall, saled taxes dollars are driving down I70.

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gccs14r 1 year ago

More retail (especially bad retail) is not going to significantly increase sales tax revenue.

If Menard's wants to open a shop here, it can be in one of the areas that is zoned for that type of business.

4

SouthernMan 1 year ago

Without question, the single most dysfunctional and delusional Planning Office in America. Continue the heavy tax burden on citizens of Lawrence and deny new sales tax dollars for city coffers. These people in City Hall should be indicted. They are complete failures.

18

sditt54 1 year ago

250 new growth jobs should trump any flimsy recommendations of the planning commission. Plus, Home Depot needs the competition.

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Stop_the_Madness 1 year ago

How old does a city need to be in order to execute proper planning?

1

oneeye_wilbur 1 year ago

Time to fire McCullough and if he isn't calling the shots, then who is? Just the other day the JW touted streaming. Told you Stogsdill needs to go!

This decision from the planning dept is expected! Again we have a perfect example of five commissioners who need to step up to the plate and start with Corliss.

Time for a big housecleaning!

Multi family there is as dumb as residential on Bo's former site!

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Patricia Davis 1 year ago

Pleazzz after RCJ park with NO planning, the city is now throwing the planning book at Menards? Fasten your seat belts. I smell more lawsuits.

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Carol Bowen 1 year ago

The long range plan for this piece of real estate is multifamily. Any development will severely impact Louisiana Street and its four neighborhoods in addition to the neighborhood to the north of the site. Our street system is poorly planned. Louisiana Street is beyond capacity.

Having said that, I have often thought that multifamily complexes are a poor neighborhood buffer. Most retail and offices close at night and are much quieter. With careful planning and collaboration with neighborhoods, Manards could work . . Except for street capacity. It would be a shame to lose 250 jobs. The city's long range plan should include more areas for business with capacity to service development.

1

Floyd Craig 1 year ago

it all points to one thing they didn't brib them with enough money but uyet they want to help put in a restraint at 27th n iowa menards is a nice place to shop hate to go out of town to one so menards give them some money for their own pockets n u will get approved to be in Lawrence

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cowboy 1 year ago

That land is not preferred residential property. Who would want to live there given the choices in the city.

McCulloughs comments i.e. commercial space , residential use , sound quite lame. To suggest turning down a major revenue generator is ridiculous.

Now we all would rather had a Lowes but the city trashed that opportunity now didn't they.

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toe 1 year ago

Menards will regret trying to open a store in Lawrence.

3

hedshrinker 1 year ago

don't really agree with the Planner's rationale (residential?REALLY? would YOU live there?) . but Menard's is a crappy store with crappy politics..other options?

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workinghard 1 year ago

Why am I not surprised? It already is a retail area. Come on County Commissioners, just this once quit letting the city call the shots. We got the rec center rammed down our throats whether we liked it or not so at least give us the Menards for crying out loud. For once give us something we actually want.

17

hooligan01 1 year ago

What a joke this is. We (city of Lawrence) spent how much money on the old Farmland site to develop into a business park to attract jobs? And here we have a company wanting to come to town and "create" (or how ever you want to look at that) ~250 jobs.
I could see if this was in a residential neighborhood, but its not. Businesses have already expanded to the west of Iowa street on 31st St and that worked out perfectly fine. What a joke of planners we have around here!!!

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skinny 1 year ago

Oh give me a break. How many more Business's are you guys going to run off?? I already have to run to Kansas City or Topeka half the time to find a good restaurant to eat at as well as do a lot of my shopping!

How about we keep some of those tax dollars here?

27

swampyankee 1 year ago

there is a city park and wetlands east of the proposed site so how will retail develop to the east ?Iowa street is kind of full is it not?

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