The intersection of 31st and Iowa streets may end up becoming a handyman’s haven.
Menards has filed plans at Lawrence City Hall to build a large home improvement center just east of the Home Depot store near 31st and Iowa streets.
Plans call for the store to be built on a portion of the former Gaslight Mobile Home Village, which has been vacated in recent months.
Menards officials weren’t offering any comment on when the store hopes to open, or why it is pursing a Lawrence project after announcing last year that it was placing its Kansas City metro area expansion plans on hold.
“We are working on plans to build in Lawrence some day, but nothing has been finalized,” Menards spokesman Jeff Abbot said.
The project will require a change in course for Lawrence City Hall. The city’s long-range plans call for the former trailer park property to be redeveloped as apartments, not as retail. City officials also have been pointing to property near the intersection of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway as the site for future big-box store development.
A Menards official, though, said that site was examined but found to be unsuitable for the project.
“This site (Sixth and SLT) is very removed from the city’s rooftops and is surrounded by vacant ground on three sides for many miles,” Menards real estate representative Tyler Edwards wrote in a letter to city officials. “Additionally this site is not visible from the existing retail on Sixth Street due to a large hill. The amount of commercially oriented traffic that would pass by the store on Sixth Street or K-10 would be close to none and not enough to make a successful store.”
Plans call for a 162,340-square -foot store, although it wasn’t clear whether that number is the size of the building or also includes outdoor storage yards and such.
The plans also call for about 65,000 square feet of additional retail development in a future second phase. A proposal for the site shows five pad sites along or near 31st Street.
The company is a full-service home improvement store and lumberyard, but also has a few broader categories as well, including a convenience line of groceries and a pet supply and wildlife department, Abbot said.
The proposal would place the two largest home improvement retailer in the city side-by-side, but a Menards official told city planners that is not unusual in other communities.
“This close proximity is a very common occurrence throughout the Midwest at both urban and rural store locations,” Edwards wrote in a letter to city officials. “It is unavoidable that a percentage of shoppers will be pulled from the existing Home Depot store and shop at the new Menards store. Due to Menards’ nature as a regional destination, many Menards shoppers will be new shoppers and come from a greater distance.”
The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission will be the first group to review the plans. The earliest that review will take place is in late April.
City commissioners ultimately will be asked to give final approval for the project.
The mobile home park was vacated last year to make way for a large student apartment complex, but the Texas-based development company pulled out of that deal after further review of the Lawrence market.