Plans filed for apartment-retail building across from KU’s Memorial Stadium

A new five-story apartment and retail building — complete with a robotic-powered parking garage — may be coming to a site across the street from Kansas University’s Memorial Stadium.

Plans have been filed at Lawrence City Hall for a major mixed-used development on the existing site of the Berkeley Flats apartment complex at 1101 Indiana St.

“We think it is a very strategic site in the city that is being underutilized currently,” said Jim Heffernan, a principal with Chicago-based student housing developer HERE LLC.

The site is directly east of the stadium and is along the Mississippi Street gateway to campus.

Details of the proposed development include:

• 156 apartments –totaling about 600 bedrooms — would be located on three of the building’s five floors. Each apartment would include an 18-foot-high great room, designed to give the units the feel of an urban loft.

• Retail and restaurant uses would be located along both the Mississippi Street and Indiana Street levels of the building. In total, the plans call for about 11,000 square feet of retail shops or restaurants.

• The development would have a 592-space parking garage spread out over three levels, including an underground level. The garage would use an “automated, robotic parking garage system” to park and retrieve cars.

The system involves the motorist pulling into a large elevator-like box and exiting the vehicle. The garage then uses an elevator system to place the vehicle on the appropriate floor, and a lift-and-track system that moves the vehicle to the right space.

Cars are retrieved through a sort of electronic valet system. Heffernan estimated it takes about three to five minutes to retrieve a vehicle.

Heffernan says the parking systems are relatively common in Europe and Asia and are becoming more common in the U.S., especially when developing projects in space-constrained areas. Because it doesn’t need entrance and exit ramps, Heffernan estimates the garage will use about 40 percent less space than a traditional one.

“We think the system produces a lot of benefits,” said Heffernan, noting reduced CO2 emissions and better security for the vehicles.

Heffernan said his company is using the system for a 26-story multi-use development it has under construction near the campus of the University of Illinois. Heffernan said the company’s Lawrence plans are part of a strategy for the company to create a national brand of student-living developments.

“We really like the Lawrence market,” Heffernan said. “We think it is a progressive community, anchored by a great university.”

The project is seeking to rezone the 2.3-acre Berkeley Flats site from its traditional RM-32 apartment zoning to a relatively new mixed-used zoning.

Heffernan said he hopes the project will win the necessary City Hall approvals by mid-2014 and that construction could begin later in the year. He hopes to have the development open by the 2016 school year.