Archive for Friday, January 11, 2013

Developer seeking $800,000 in public improvements to aid multimillion-dollar East Lawrence art gallery

January 11, 2013


Lawrence is on track to get a multimillion-dollar, privately owned art gallery in East Lawrence, but first city taxpayers will be asked for another round of public assistance.

City commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting will consider approving about $800,000 worth of street improvements and other construction-related expenses to upgrade the area around the recently renovated Poehler Lofts building near Eighth and Pennsylvania streets.

The proposed improvements are designed to assist a renovation of the Cider Building, a turn-of-the-20th century warehouse building that developer Tony Krsnich is working to convert into an art and events gallery.

“I hate to overpromise, but I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t turn into a real destination,” Krsnich said.

He and his partners are investing $1.8 million to convert the building, and Krsnich confirmed the gallery will be run by Kim Weinberger of Weinberger Fine Art Gallery in Kansas City.

Krsnich said Weinberger currently is in New York working to bring significant works from noted artist Hunt Slonem to the gallery. All told, Krsnich said the gallery is expected to have more than $1 million worth of art in it when it opens, likely in the next two months.

“This is probably the riskiest deal I have ever done in my life, but the importance of it in terms of what it can do for East Lawrence is so great,” Krsnich said. “I really think it will solidify East Lawrence.”

Now, city commissioners will have to decide whether the area should receive another round of public infrastructure funding. The bulk of the projects sought by Krsnich are improvements to existing pieces of city infrastructure. They include:

• $263,000 to rehabilitate Pennsylvania Street between Eighth and Ninth with new brick pavers.

• $279,000 to reconstruct Ninth Street from Delaware to Pennsylvania and to improve the intersections of Eighth and Pennsylvania, Ninth and Pennsylvania and Ninth and Delaware.

• $111,000 for stormwater improvements.

• $123,000 for new parking on Pennsylvania and Eighth streets, new sidewalks, and pedestrian lighting.

Krsnich also is asking the city to pay for about 75 percent — or about $30,000 — of the costs of installing a sprinkler system in the building, and about $7,800 in utility connection fees for the project.

This round of funding is in addition to two other requests the city already has approved for the area. In July, the city approved use of the Neighborhood Revitalization Act for the deteriorating building. The act will allow the developers to qualify for a 95 percent property tax rebate on the project for 10 years, which could total as much as $500,000, depending on future tax values.

In 2011, the City Commission also approved about $1.3 million worth of public improvements in the area needed to assist in the renovation of the Poehler Building into 49 affordable apartments.

Those apartments — the bulk of which are rent-controlled because the project received tax credits from the state — were fully leased in the first 12 hours the project began taking applications.

Krsnich said the Cider Building project will benefit the neighborhood by bringing new people to the area. Plans call for the ground floor of the building to house artwork while also being able to host wedding receptions or events for about 250 people.

The project will include an outdoor courtyard that can accommodate about 150 people. Krsnich confirmed that famed Lawrence artist Stan Herd will design the outdoor space, and that Herd is moving his studio to the area, which is being called the Warehouse Arts District.

The second floor of the building will be converted into small-scale office spaces that will be designed for entrepreneurs that need “drop-in” office space.

“It really will be a plug and play type of deal for small businesses,” Krsnich said.

In addition to the public infrastructure improvements, Krsnich also may ask for a Community Improvement District for the area. But the district, unlike other CID proposals in the city, would not involve a special sales tax.

Instead, Krsnich is proposing that a special property tax assessment be placed on lots in the district. The district would include all the property between Eighth and Ninth streets on the north and south and Delaware and Pennsylvania streets on the east and west.

Krsnich and his partners own most of the property in the district, but not all. The city owns a parking lot in the district, and would be obligated to pay a special assessment of about $20,000 as part of the plan.

Proceeds from the special taxing district would be used to pay for burying electric and cable lines to the property.

City commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.


Currahee 4 years ago

Considering it's a drop in the bucket compared to the other projects, consider it done!

patkindle 4 years ago

800 grand is no money these days just build it, after all it is just pennies a day and it is for the arts and the kids they are both too precious not to do it

jhawk1998 4 years ago

I don't care what you label them Enough is enough spending for now

Enlightenment 4 years ago

Seems like a reasonable request when compared to some of the financial and tax breaks the local developers have asked for and received.

grandpaD 4 years ago

The city should take the snowy side walk money they make and use that to pay for all the improvements. Makes as much financial sense as many of the other hand outs they have given to developers in town.

gccs14r 4 years ago

Gotta start somewhere. Maybe making this gallery a destination will bring in outside sales tax dollars. It'll do that better than yet another national chain store will.

Bob Forer 4 years ago

Doesn't matter that it involves art or farts. It is a private for-profit business venture. There is no incentive involved in this because the renovation of the gallery is already well underway, as the gallery is expect to open in the next two months.

Most developers are smart enough to request handouts while the project is still in the planning stages, the argument being "I have a great project which will benefit the city greatly but it's only a go if the taxpayers agree to kick in some major bucks."

With the project well underway, he is simply holding out his hand and saying "gimee 800 G, my partners and i own pretty much the whole district, and those empty lots are gonna be worth a lot more money and make me a pile of cash if the taxpayers are stupid enough to pay for the infrastructure.

But wtf, Compton got away with the same request.

This is precisely why real estate and sales taxes have increased tremendously in Lawrence during the development boom of the last 25 years. Contrary to the worn out argument that development increases the tax base, it ends up costing the average Lawrencian a big chunk of change.

Development does not pay for itself. The citizens end up footing the bill.

Grow or die? Nonsense. It's grow and die if you are a middle class homeowner.

jack22 4 years ago

Good points, especially the last three paragraphs.

ResQd 4 years ago

I totally agree. I'm getting tired of being nickled and dimed to death in this city. And, please don't tell me to move, my house is not worth what the city says it is worth!

bballwizard 4 years ago

No more handouts to rich kid from Wichita. The project was almost entirely funded by the government to begin. With

COjayrocks 4 years ago

You, like many others on this board, are making it personal. I find it trite that you had to throw in there "rich kid from Wichita" as if it had ANYTHING TO DO with this situation. Now I'll make it personal and see if you feel it is productive.

Does your back hurt all day walking around with that chip on your shoulder. For the record, guys like you are the reason that this country is far too interested in complaining about problems and trying not to offend anyone instead of getting your hands dirty with WORK and fixing them. Grow up and grow a pair.

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

Another perfect example of tax dollar availability IF commissioners and city hall just so happen to approve of a concept . Isn't it amazing.

Having said that I say do what should be done and should have been done no matter what which includes:

• $263,000 to rehabilitate Pennsylvania Street between Eighth and Ninth with new brick pavers.

• $279,000 to reconstruct Ninth Street from Delaware to Pennsylvania and to improve the intersections of Eighth and Pennsylvania, Ninth and Pennsylvania and Ninth and Delaware.

• $111,000 for stormwater improvements.

• $123,000 for new parking on Pennsylvania and Eighth streets, new sidewalks, and pedestrian lighting.

This is a huge improvement and certainly improves the dollar value of the area. Go for it.

----- Let the investors pick up the rest and no more preferential tax favors. ------

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

I'm OK with all of the above, primarily because the heavy truck traffic that goes through there has pretty much destroyed the existing roadbeds, and the stormwater drainage in this area is pretty bad, and has been for many years.

But I think the developers ought to pick up the tab for their utility connections and sprinkler systems.

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

City Hall and City Commissioners,

While city hall is in the area why not spend some citizen tax dollars now to develop a hike and bike trail that has been designed by Mike Myers specifically for this area that connects to the Burrough's Creek trail and connects to the river levy?

It seems new hike and bike trails are included in westside development which indicates to me that is the opportune moment and a fiscal responsible approach.

I believe the design was a donation to this project. Thanks in advance for your consideration.


Ken Lassman 4 years ago

Sounds like this is mostly an infrastructure improvement project that is needed to support an East Lawrence project. Does anyone remember the city spending millions to enlarge the water lines and sewers going from the stadium to support KU's continuous flow toilets in the stadium upgrade? At least this is a lot cheaper and will benefit the surrounding neighborhood more.

gl0ck0wn3r 4 years ago

He is for this project because it is relatively near his residence. He's not pro-Lawrence; he is pro-Merrill.

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

Depending on on how much a buyer is willing to spend in a depressed market it might increase market value. Douglas county property value ...... I 'd question that.

These items have been neglected for many many years. Actually the city should do more rehab work in east Lawrence. This may not increase property values. How could it legitimately? This is mostly rehab maintenance which should have been performed many years ago.

• $263,000 to rehabilitate Pennsylvania Street between Eighth and Ninth with new brick pavers.

• $279,000 to reconstruct Ninth Street from Delaware to Pennsylvania and to improve the intersections of Eighth and Pennsylvania, Ninth and Pennsylvania and Ninth and Delaware.

• $111,000 for stormwater improvements.

• $123,000 for new parking on Pennsylvania and Eighth streets, new sidewalks, and pedestrian lighting.

New parking? Parking space is already there.

gccs14r 4 years ago

If they're going to repave Pennsylvania with brick, where are they going to reroute the paving truck traffic? Are they going to send the guys down to Connecticut and have them double back? If that's the case, they should encourage them to stay on 11th to Connecticut, rather that run up to 9th.

I have to say that what they've done over there looks fantasic and I'd like to see it spread.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

From what I've heard, the truck traffic would be required to go up Delaware rather than Pennsylvania.

gccs14r 4 years ago

Delaware is already posted no trucks north of 9th, and they didn't build it for truck traffic. It's an asphalt road, not concrete.

gccs14r 4 years ago

Also, I'd prefer the paving company traffic come in from the east, but there's no easy or cheap way to set that up. There'd have to be a bypass around the perimeter of the treatment plant, then a new road running south to 11th.

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

----- Let the investors pick up the rest and no more preferential tax favors. ------

Cant_have_it_both_ways 4 years ago

Does this include your bicycle paths Merrill? It is income tax time, you might consider getting ready to file your income taxes so your socialistic style of government has the necessary funds to squander on all your delusional projects.

dwendel 4 years ago

Great idea, getajob. But then who would post on these message boards?

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

For the cost of one mile of 4 lane roads or 2 miles of 2 lane roads will pay for 250 miles of walk/bike trails.

It seems to me the walk/bike trail is the most efficient use of tax dollars. Cyclists pay road taxes so what could be wrong with transferring road tax revenue to hike/bike trails.

BTW these are not MY bike/pedestrian paths as I'm sure many many many cyclists and pedestrians would concur.

Delusional is thinking the obsolete designed traffic way will in any way solve local traffic problems at a cost of $300,000,000 million $$$ total spending. As of the moment I cannot determine how that traffic way will benefit me ever. Empty cars are such huge tax dollar budget items..... and they are never satisfied.

It is always best to maintain taxpayer owned resources before they are left to crumble away. This might be known as negligence.

Kontum1972 4 years ago

so give us a number as to how much cash is generated for the artist's who provide the it multi-million's ....are the gallery's going to be jammed packed like the bar's here in town every night? I just don't see it! What's next....brothels in the empty apartments loft's...?

gccs14r 4 years ago

I should suggest post removal for apostrophe abuse.

livinginlawrence 4 years ago

"Those apartments — the bulk of which are rent-controlled because the project received tax credits from the state — were fully leased in the first 12 hours the project began taking applications. "

Unfortunately for the sake of your idea, it doesn't appear that there are any empty apartments.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

Reply to gccs14r (the reply button appears to be broken for the moment.)

I'm just repeating what I've heard. I don't know if that new stretch of Delaware can withstand the truck traffic or not, but I'd be very surprised if they build a brick street that can handle it.

gccs14r 4 years ago

Which is why I'm thinking they'll send the trucks down to Connecticut. The way they redo the brick streets, from what I've seen, is they lay down an asphalt base and put back only one course of brick, not the original three.

Patricia Davis 4 years ago

Dollars to donuts just another conservative Kansan who is appalled by paying taxes for social security and medicare, wants people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and believes in unfettered capitalism. What a joke.

overthemoon 4 years ago

multi-million? 1.8 is a million and a bit more. Multi- anything would imply at the least 2 but probably much more.

Matthew Herbert 4 years ago

What part of "private industry" and "for profit" confuses people? It's really simple; private industry is privately financed. Public services are publicly funded.

gccs14r 4 years ago

Tell that to the oil, timber, and cattle companies (among others).

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

A vote on this project would not be out of line. On the April ballot.

Ken Lassman 4 years ago

What is it with this comment thread and apostrophes? I detect an increase in extreme apostrophe events--must be apostrophe climate change.

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

FYI Arts and Economic Prosperity = $135.2 billion = 4.13 million full-time jobs

Information and Support Services

Economic Impact of the Non Profit Arts and Culture Industry

Quick Facts Nationally, the industry generated $135.2 billion of economic activity—$61.1 billion by the nation's nonprofit arts and culture organizations in addition to $74.1 billion in event-related expenditures by their audiences. This economic activity supports 4.13 million full-time jobs and generates $86.68 billion in resident household income. The industry also generates $22.3 billion in revenue to local, state, and federal governments every year—a yield well beyond their collective $4 billion in arts allocations. Despite the economic headwinds that our country faced in 2010, the results are impressive.

More Economic Impact data

hedshrinker 4 years ago

Any time I've gone to Last Fri open houses in the Warehouse Arts district, it's been a mob scene, LOTS of people with lots of cars making it hard to attend, so parking improvements would be great. Seems there should be a place for the throngs of art supporters to drop some $$$, not only for art, but drinks and snax, entertainment, etc. The public infrastructure should for sure be funded no matter what your views about helping an entrepeneurial enterprise... lots of.people don't seem to have much compuction about funding Compton and Fritzel, BTW.
And the Penney Concrete Co should kick in significantlyllll Have you ever watched those vehicles come a hellin' on 8th St, usually going way over the speed limit and shaking the world?

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