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Archive for Monday, July 8, 2013

City set to approve final details of Ninth and N.H. hotel project; construction to begin next week

July 8, 2013

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Everybody from motorists to bus riders to downtown skyline gazers soon will start noticing signs of what is expected to be one of downtown’s larger developments in recent years.

Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday are scheduled to approve the final site details for the five-story Marriott hotel and retail development at the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets. The approval is expected to clear the way for construction to begin next week and last for the next 15 months.

“It is going to be a great project,” said Micah Kimball, project architect for the development. “We’re trying to minimize any impacts on traffic or the surrounding area. It is a tight site, but we’re used to that.”

Riders of the city’s public transit system may be the first to feel the impact of the more than $10 million project. The city will close its transit hub at Ninth and New Hampshire on July 17. It will move to the 700 block of Vermont Street, across from the construction site of the Lawrence Public Library.

City officials are posting signs at the intersection and on the transit buses to notify riders of the impending change.

“The biggest thing for us right now is to get the message out to the public,” said Robert Nugent, the city’s public transit administrator. “We thought we would have 15 to 30 days to make the change, and we have about a week. We don’t want people standing around down there for a bus that isn’t going to come.”

Nugent said the new transit hub, which is where riders often transfer to different buses, will require several route changes. He said riders of Routes 1, 3, 4, 6 ,7, 10 and 11 should look for notices about changes in bus stops in the downtown area.

Motorists also will have to make adjustments at the intersection. Kimball said through traffic will be allowed through the intersection during construction, but it will be shifted to different lanes.

During much of the construction period, the portion of the northbound lane of New Hampshire Street in front of the project will be closed. The northbound traffic will be shifted to the center turn lane of New Hampshire Street. Also, the portion of the eastbound lane of Ninth Street that runs along the side of the site will be closed. The eastbound traffic will be shifted to the center turn lane on Ninth Street.

Motorists, though, won’t find a roundabout at the intersection anytime soon. The development group, which is led by Lawrence businessman Doug Compton and Lawrence architect Mike Treanor, originally had proposed a roundabout for the busy intersection. But that idea met opposition from some commissioners, and it was not included in the final set of plans.

In addition to traffic details, commissioners also will be asked to approve the final design elements of the site and building. Many of those details remain unchanged from last year when commissioners approved an incentives package for the project. Those details include:

• A building height of five stories at its tallest point. The tallest point is at the northwest corner of the site, where the building will stretch to 64 feet. The building’s eastern edge, which is the edge closest to an adjacent neighborhood, steps down to about 40 feet.

• The hotel, a Marriott TownePlace extended stay hotel, will have 91 rooms. The hotel will have a ground floor lobby and indoor pool, with rooms on floors two through four.

• The building’s top story will include three luxury apartments for rent.

• The ground floor will have space for about 7,000 square feet of retail space. Lawrence attorney Bill Fleming said a tenant hasn’t yet been found for the space, but efforts will intensify now that the project is set to begin construction. He said a user that could provide a food and convenience market remains the company’s top choice for a tenant.

• The project will include a 22-foot wide patio area between the hotel building and the adjacent Lawrence Arts Center to the south.

• The angled parking spaces along the east side of New Hampshire Street will be removed and replaced with a combination of parallel parking spaces and a drop-off lane for hotel guests. The changes will result in fewer on-street parking spaces in the block, although the current spaces are largely occupied by the transit hub. The project will include a 102-space below-ground parking garage to serve the hotel and retail development.

City commissioners will meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

Comments

lawrencereporter 1 year, 5 months ago

Rock Chalk Park Fritzel qoutes:

“We’re doing it because we love the community,” Fritzel said in an interview. “We’re not doing it because we’re getting good publicity. You can cross that off as a reason.”

“We’re a financing mechanism for the University of Kansas, just cut and dry,” Fritzel said of his role.

The reason the project is not likely to qualify for the exemption is because a private, for-profit entity controlled by Fritzel — Bliss Sports — will own the facilities and lease them back to KU.

In the interview Friday afternoon, Fritzel also provided other details about agreements that are being negotiated among Bliss Sports, Kansas University Endowment and KU Athletics. They include: • Kansas Athletics will pay Fritzel’s Bliss Sports $1.3 million each year for 30 years as part of a lease that will give KU full use of the track and field stadium, the soccer field, softball stadium and other amenities in the park. The 30-year agreement will produce $39 million in payments to Bliss. KU officials have estimated the value of the proposed facilities to be about $50 million. When asked if the $1.3 million per year lease payments were the only revenue that Bliss Sports would receive from the project, Fritzel said: “Yeah, if you want to call that revenue, sure.”

• Fritzel said he and his wife, Dru, are the only owners of Bliss Sports. Questions have arisen why Fritzel is providing the financing through a for-profit company as opposed to a not-for-profit foundation that he previously had established. He said the only reason is because tax and financial professionals he had hired had advised him to do it this way.

“I have been told not do it that way (a foundation) by the people who I pay to make good decisions,” Fritzel said.

akuna 1 year, 5 months ago

The questionnaire is not that big of a deal. Why are people upset about it? Would you rather the LJWorld be put behind a pay wall? I'd rather click a mouse for a fraction of second than spend money. Kudos the the LJWorld for figuring out a relatively non-obtrusive way to make money and not from my bank account.

blindrabbit 1 year, 5 months ago

Chad: What is the timeline for the development on the Northeast corner of 9th and N.H.. Will they wait until the SE Hotel is completed??

jhawkinsf 1 year, 5 months ago

Fifteen months of work for carpenters, plumbers, electricians, laborers, etc., pumping an awful lot of money into the local economy as they spend their wages at restaurants, clothing stores, home projects, etc.

jack22 1 year, 5 months ago

And twenty years of this huge commercial development paying no new property taxes to help support our police, firefighters, sewers, roads, and a host of other things that this structure will be adding more strain to. Twenty years of higher property taxes for the rest of us to make up for the tax breaks given to the developer.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 5 months ago

If it's a "huge commercial development", as you say, then the jobs it will create over that twenty year time will more than offset the tax breaks given to the developer. Then after the twenty years is up, we will have all those jobs plus an increased property tax base, rather than an empty lot littered with empty beer cans.

Of course, I would also have supported giving tax breaks if some group had stepped forward to purchase that lot with the intention of having an urban garden in it's place. I just don't recall anyone making such a proposal.

jack22 1 year, 5 months ago

Yeah, we're also getting a ton of low wage jobs out of the deal, too. Dishwashers, maids, and a host of other jobs that pay very little.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 5 months ago

We have a host of people whose skills sets are appropriate for just those jobs. Perhaps they'll just move from dishwashing job to dishwashing job, housekeeping job to housekeeping job. Or perhaps they'll use those jobs as a springboard for future advancement. Hopefully, they'll choose the latter.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 5 months ago

I hire dishwashers all the time. I hire bus persons as well. I fire them when they're not up to the task. Perhaps you'd like to pretend that everyone on this planet is up to even the simplest jobs like those. You'd be wrong.

streetman 1 year, 5 months ago

Another damn chain outfit. In Lawrence!!! And a Dick's being contemplated! What next -- a Menards?

Nonsense 1 year, 5 months ago

Not a fan of Compton or Fritzel and I live in the east side. But, I am pretty darned excited about these projects and everything that is going on in the east side including the 8th and Penn project and Train Depot.

Wally 1 year, 5 months ago

Not sure whether I feel good, bad or indifferent about it, but I notice that several recent buildings on NH seem to use the same cookie-cutter design style. I like the style, but it is starting to get boring. NH is beginning to look like one big strip mall.

onceinawhile 1 year, 5 months ago

Where is the photo that accompanies this story on the homepage?

pizzapete 1 year, 5 months ago

If the stewardship of the Masonic Temple is any indication of what we can expect from Compton, in twenty years when the property taxes finally come do the developer or new owner will ask for another round of tax breaks to offset the rehab costs of this poorly built hotel.

jack22 1 year, 5 months ago

We all have to pay taxes. Income taxes, property taxes, sales tax, and other fees. It's what helps pay for our city services like roads, sewers, police, and many other things that we all depend on. What's the impact of a huge structure like this not paying increased property tax over a twenty year period? Well, right now this property is paying $7,760 dollars a year in property taxes and that's the amount the city has agreed to accept for the next twenty years. At that rate over twenty years the city will have collected a little over $50,000 in taxes. The $50,000 collected is just about what this development would have paid every year for twenty years if the building were taxed at it's true value of twelve million dollars. So instead of getting three million in taxes over twenty years to help pay for our roads, schools, police, and the like, were letting the developer pay for one year at the rate he should be paying without the tax breaks and giving him nineteen years free. Don't worry, the city has plans to increase everyone else's property taxes to make up for it.

The special sales tax district this project has received is another cause for concern. Sales tax have traditionally been used as another source to pay for city services. However, this project is using the increased sales tax to offset the cost of building a private parking garage. Why are we allowing a developer to funnel our sales tax revenues for his own private gain? I don't have any problem with developer building this hotel, but I don't see why we tax payers should be paying higher taxes for his profit. With all these special tax districts popping up all over town, it's almost like these private developers are creating their own quasi-government within the city to line their own pockets.

repaste 1 year, 5 months ago

Yes, they are using the power of Government tax collection to give money to private individuals. Used to be an alien concept. People freak out when a .5 cent tax increase is proposed, yet yawn when these are passed. "It's only a penny."

FlintlockRifle 1 year, 5 months ago

If I remember correctly , back in the 40's and early 50's there was a "motel" or "boarding house" on this corner or just a little south of corner, can't remember the name of it. Also on the northeast corner of 9th was the old livery stable barn, when the circus came to town them keep some of the livestock there.

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