Archive for Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fritzel has made $50,000 payment related to Varsity House settlement with city, officials confirm

June 13, 2013


As city officials negotiate a no-bid contract with a company led by Lawrence businessman Thomas Fritzel for work at its proposed recreation center, City Hall officials have confirmed he's made good on a previous settlement agreement with the city.

City Manager David Corliss said Thursday that Fritzel within the last several weeks has paid in full a $50,000 settlement related to how one of his companies proceeded with the Varsity House Apartments in the Oread Neighborhood.

Commissioners and Fritzel reached agreement in late November on a $50,000 settlement related to how Fritzel’s company dismantled an early 1900s home known at the Varsity House to make way for an apartment development at 11th and Indiana streets.

City commissioners had approved the concept of Fritzel moving the old house several feet to accommodate the design of the approximately 50-unit apartment complex. But City Hall leaders and local historic preservationists expressed concern when Fritzel’s method to move the house involved dismantling the structure.

City commissioners said the dismantling of the house — which gained its name by previously serving as the home for Kansas University’s varsity football players — violated the spirit of what they had approved. But Fritzel said he made his plans for dismantling the house fully known to members of the city’s planning staff.

The two sides agreed to resolve the dispute by Fritzel agreeing to make a $50,000 donation to the Douglas County Community Foundation, with the money being used to fund historic preservation efforts in the city.

Corliss said Varsity House LC provided a $50,000 check to the Douglas County Community Foundation on April 25. The city had been delaying issuing an occupancy permit for the apartment complex until the settlement matter was resolved.

After completing final inspections on the apartments, an occupancy permit was issued on May 24, Scott McCullough, the city’s planning director said.

At some point, city commissioners will be asked to provide recommendations to the Community Foundation’s board of directors on how the $50,000 donation should be spent, Corliss said.

He said an agreement with the foundation gives its board the final authority on how to spend the money, but it also requires that the City Commission be consulted on how to spend the money. The agreement requires the donation to be used for historic preservation purposes.

Corliss said he was uncertain when the matter may come before the commission. He said the foundation would be responsible for soliciting applications.

There should be no shortage of interest in the funds. At least two prominent historic preservation projects will be under way shortly. The Lawrence Preservation Alliance is doing repair work on the 1869 Turnhalle building at 900 Rhode Island Street.

The city also has won a $1.2 million grant to restore the 1950s-era Santa Fe Depot in East Lawrence. City officials will have to provide about $300,000 of local matching funds to complete that project.

Questions about the status of the Varsity House settlement had grown in recent weeks after the Fritzel family’s Gene Fritzel Construction Co. won a $10.5 million bid to build the city’s recreation center near Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway. The city, through a no-bid process, also has agreed to allow a company led by Fritzel to build about $12 million worth of infrastructure to serve the site.

City officials earlier this month gave Corliss the authority to sign contracts for the two projects, but he said Thursday those contracts haven’t yet been signed. He said the parties are still finalizing the documents.


Pr0digy 4 years, 10 months ago

Who wants to take a guess who will be the low bid on the restoration project?

ontheright 4 years, 10 months ago

There should be no restoration to begin with!

Jayhawker07 4 years, 10 months ago

Has not Fritzel be given funds already to start the infastructure. Thought those funds were released (around Christmas) in 2012. I would bet he payed the money he owed us out of his new Philanthropic LLC. So LMAO!

Clark Coan 4 years, 10 months ago

Another slap on the wrist. It was just the cost of doing business for Fritzel as he made far more on the apt. complex than the $50,000 fine.

Bob Forer 4 years, 10 months ago

Although It has been over seven months since Fritzel agreed to the $50,000 settlement, he didn't pay the money until "the last several weeks."

First, why is Coreless so evasive on the timing of the payment.? Was it yesterday, last week, three weeks ago, or five weeks ago ? Why not be specific, and give the exact date the money was paid. My guess is that "within the last several weeks" means very very recently, but Coreless is too embarrassed to acknowledge that the same man who swindled the city out of millions on the Rock Chalk deal contemptuously and contemporaneously snubbed his nose at the city for months after agreeing to the fifty thousand dollar payment. Either that, or perhaps Fritzel paid in pennies and it took him several weeks to haul 5 million of them to city hall in his wheel barrow. That's quite a few wheel barrow's full. .

And after duping the taxpayers of millions, why would he not relent and finally honor his word. All of a sudden that 50G is chump change.

Lenette Hamm 4 years, 10 months ago

Total BS, no matter how you look at it. The man is getting away with criminal activities and yet the city allows him to continue.

Armored_One 4 years, 10 months ago

Well, if you have proof of this collaboration, then report it to the KBI or the BBB, neither of which will be all that interested in covering embarrassment to those investigated.

But without that proof, nothing will happen. Somehow, I am expecting a lot of nothing more than extensive reporting.

jack22 4 years, 10 months ago

How did the city come up with the figure of $50,000 for the fine? Oh yeah, that was Fritzel's idea, too. Hey, on a related note, how about we offer to give him 25 million to build us something.

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