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Archive for Friday, July 12, 2013

Leaders gather to celebrate groundbreaking of Ninth and New Hampshire hotel project

July 12, 2013

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Lawrence developer Doug Compton thanks his business partners involved in the plans for the hotel before the groundbreaking. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

Lawrence developer Doug Compton thanks his business partners involved in the plans for the hotel before the groundbreaking. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

It was a day for predictions on downtown Lawrence's future.

"It is going to get a lot busier in downtown Lawrence," developer Doug Compton told a crowd of more than a hundred people at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new Marriott hotel at Ninth and New Hampshire streets.

Another sure bet is that it is going to get taller too.

The Marriott building will stand five stories tall — nearly 65 feet at its tallest point — and will be another step in remaking the Ninth and New Hampshire intersection into the urban core of the city. The intersection already is home to a seven-story apartment building constructed by a Compton-led group, and the developer hopes to begin construction by the end of the year on another seven-story apartment and office building at the northeast corner of the intersection.

Compton told the crowd the three projects will represent more than $60 million worth of investments at the intersection and are part of a vision he had for downtown more than six years ago.

"I would hope that it brings more people into downtown to shop, to spend the night and to enjoy one of our most beloved resources, which is downtown," Compton said.

Construction is expected to start immediately and last for the next 14 months.

Lawrence architect Mike Treanor, who is part of the development group, said a major focus of the project is to make downtown busier during all hours of the day.

Visitors to the groundbreaking ceremony for the 900 New Hampshire building study a rendering of the structure behind a row of shovels and helmets on July 12, 2013. Many Lawrence residents and business owners attended the groundbreaking for the building, which will become a Marriott hotel and is being built by Lawrence developer Doug Compton, who's company, First Management, also built the loft apartments pictured on the west side of New Hampshire Street. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

Visitors to the groundbreaking ceremony for the 900 New Hampshire building study a rendering of the structure behind a row of shovels and helmets on July 12, 2013. Many Lawrence residents and business owners attended the groundbreaking for the building, which will become a Marriott hotel and is being built by Lawrence developer Doug Compton, who's company, First Management, also built the loft apartments pictured on the west side of New Hampshire Street. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

"It will make for more of a 24-hour downtown, and that really will make downtown even stronger," Treanor said.

A 91-room Marriott TownePlace extended stay hotel will be the largest tenant for the new building. It will have a ground-floor lobby, an indoor pool and guest rooms in the second through fourth floors of the building.

Overland Park-based Capital Management Inc. will operate the hotel. The company is the same one that operates the Marriott SpringHill Suites along the Kansas River in downtown.

"We really love downtown and we've been looking for another opportunity to invest in it," said Chuck Mackey, president of the management group.

But this hotel will be significantly different from the other Marriott in town. Each room will have a full kitchen and other amenities designed for people who may be staying weeks at a time at the hotel.

"We think this type of facility will bring an edge to the university and other businesses who may need to host some long-term guests," said Rachel Preisner, who will be leading the Lawrence operations for Capital Management.

The building also will include about 7,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, which hasn't yet found a tenant, three luxury apartments on the top floor and a 102-space underground parking garage.

The project received both tax increment financing and transportation development district assistance from the city, which will be used to help pay for the parking garage and other infrastructure.

"If we don't have those tools in place, this project doesn't happen," Treanor told the crowd. "It just cost too much to do development on a site like this otherwise."

The development group started planning for the hotel three years ago. The project became contentious with the adjacent East Lawrence Neighborhood Association, which expressed concern about the height of the building. The project went through several design changes, and one story of the building was eliminated as part of a compromise for the project to win City Hall's approval.

Neighborhood opposition lessened after that design change but didn't disappear. A large sign at the adjacent Lawrence Percolator art gallery read "Good-bye Green Space," referring to the vacant lot that dominates the southeast corner of the intersection.

On Friday, leaders of the development team had put any negative feelings about the drawn-out approval process behind them.

"All good things take time," Treanor said. "This has taken some time, so it is going to be really good."

Comments

jack22 1 year, 5 months ago

"It just cost too much" to develop this property with our own money they tell us, even though we all know Compton owns his own bank. Good thing they had the "tools in place" (city commissioners) who were willing to divert future tax proceeds to help a private individual make even more money.

After cutting the ribbon, Compton said, "with all this money I've saved on parking and taxes, I think I'm going to go buy me some more zebras."

jack22 1 year, 5 months ago

Right, but these are for display or show only. They're there to boost his ego so that he can strut around town like the Michael Jackson of Lawrence that he is.

jack22 1 year, 5 months ago

Is it envy to think that our tax dollars could have been better spent on things that benefit the whole community instead of helping to pay for a private parking garage for a property developer with deep pockets?

When the police accuse someone of stealing, I guess now they can say, no it's ok, the city commission approved this, it would have cost too much otherwise. Or does that only apply for white collar crime?

jafs 1 year, 5 months ago

No, that sounds like common sense to me.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 5 months ago

All Doug has to do is snap his fingers and his cheer leaders come running to produce a facade that his project is quite popular.

Then again Doug cannot be blamed for that behavior. It's not his fault some are afraid not to respond accordingly. That takes backbone.

If Doug had agreed to reduce the overall height there likely would have been a lot more cheerleaders for his project as a show of appreciation. Life must go on....

Abdu Omar 1 year, 5 months ago

They are going to build this hotel downtown and Bella Sera is still mostly empty and in trouble. What a waste and I thought it might be before they built it. But, let Compton build all he wants, I have no problem with that, but I had the tax abatements he gets. We help him get richer and richer while the city needs the taxes for other projects.

no_thanks 1 year, 5 months ago

Not a fan of incentives either, but two things about your comment need to be corrected. First, Bella Sera has sold all of their condos. Second, and clearly incentives did benefit Doug, but it is not harming the City. The City will receive the same amount of taxes as they did prior to the building. They are just abating (or more accurately rebating) their incremental property and sales taxes. But, as i understand it, imbedded in that rebate is money that will go toward debt reduction for the parking garage across the street and purchase of the Salvation Army building to provide "green space" for the Arts Center. Again, not a fan of the incentives, but at least in this instance, the Community is receiving some additional benefit. If we have to add firemen, policemen, or other assets to serve the project, then it is costing the City. And, just so its clear, the developer pays for all the infrastructure improvements, which by replacing sewer and water lines in the Ninth and New Hampshire intersection is a benefit to others in that area.

jack22 1 year, 5 months ago

Yes, as a city grows there is an increased need for more police, firefighters, roads, sewers, schools, and other things we all pay taxes for. A high rise hotel will surely put more strain on our roads, police, firefighters, parking garages, and other city services than an empty lot. That's why this property should be paying their fair share in property taxes to offset the increased costs to the city. Instead of paying $50,000 a year in property tax this hotel is going to be paying less than $8,000 a year. In addition, they're going to be taking a percentage of the sales tax from the hotel and sticking it directly back into their own pocket instead paying it back to the city for services we all depend on. Everybody in Lawrence should have a room reserved every year for a week for twenty years at no charge at this hotel, after all, one way or another we're al being charged for it in the form of increased property and sales tax the rest of us have to pay.

jack22 1 year, 5 months ago

Is it envy to think our tax dollars could have been better spent on something that benefits the whole community instead of helping to pay for a private parking garage for the benefit of a developer with deep pockets?

When the police accuse someone of stealing in this town, I guess now they can say, it's alright, this was approved by the city commission, it would have cost too much otherwise. Or is that excuse valid only when it's a white collar crime?

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