Letters to the Editor

Letter: Downtown growth

December 24, 2013


To the editor:

Cultural heritage and authenticity are some of the attributes of a historic district. The review standards for impacts upon a Historic District, Historic Landmarks, and Environs Review are well documented.

We can see through our observation of downtown Lawrence that its growth has been one of gradual progress. The historical fabric of the mercantile street is largely intact from the former car dealership that now houses Waxman Candles, to the distant opposite corner from the historic Watkins museum, and former bank near the Douglas County Courthouse.

Along the way an expansion on the vacant lot next to the Eldridge has not yet occurred although recently approved. Before the next City Commission election a new tower has been approved opposite the Treanor/Compton hotel at Ninth and New Hampshire, and now a seven-story project is being proposed opposite the historic courthouse and Watkins Museum.

How can it be that one of the commissioners whose restaurant businesses have been largely successful due to their location in a historic district be so cavalier about a complete change in the character of Downtown Lawrence?

Historically, the mercantile street called Massachusetts was limited to four-story buildings with the only exceptions being at Ninth and Massachusetts.

Several of our current City Commission members were elected in part by funding from a political action committee. Do they truly represent the best interests of the community or rather the interests of “special donors” whether downtown, or in building no vote/no bid recreation centers?


Beator 4 years, 5 months ago

People demanding cultural heritage and authenticity, felt the same way when the horse and hitching post were replaced with Ford's quadricycle.... Bricks had to be laid and curbs had to be built.

Rob Chestnut 4 years, 5 months ago

Sven - Downtown has maintained its mercantile district because of the additional residential and business development, not despite it. I can (unfortunately due to age) remember when Massachusetts was the only retail district in town, and the doors closed at 5:30 on weekdays and Saturday and the district was completely closed on Sunday.

Those days are over, and they will never return. But, I can now be Downtown on a Friday or Saturday night and see the evolution instead of walking down a street of empty storefronts.

Matthew Herbert 4 years, 4 months ago

I believe in free market economics and accordingly, have no interest in my government telling entrepreneurs what they can and can't develop.

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