Editorial: Discuss designation

Granting historic designations to nine properties east of downtown would have a significant impact on future development in East Lawrence.

May 13, 2013


East Lawrence property owners recently received a notice from the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Department informing them a public meeting is scheduled for Thursday to consider the nomination of nine properties to the Lawrence Register of Historic Places.

Perhaps each of these sites and the buildings on these properties are indeed truly historic and should be considered for the special designation.

However, based on previous efforts to designate specific locations around the downtown area and the consequences of such designations, it might be wise to at least study the potential effects of this action.

The notice from the planning office points out, “The designation as a landmark on the Lawrence Register of Historic Places will place additional review requirements on any development or redevelopment within 250 feet (the environs) of the register property which requires a City permit. A Certificate of Appropriateness or a Certificate of Economic Hardship will be required before a City permit is issued.”

No one knows what the future of East Lawrence might be in the coming years. However, the sites to be considered for historic designation cover a wide area from the 500 block of Connecticut Street to the middle of the 1000 block of Pennsylvania Street, including properties on Connecticut, New York, Delaware and Pennsylvania streets.

Almost any commercial or retail development proposed in this area would face major hurdles if the locations nominated for historic designation are approved.

Consider the sites currently so designated around downtown Lawrence and how this plan or footprint presents serious consequences for those desiring to make major changes to their buildings, or in undertaking remodeling or expansion.

Again, perhaps each of the proposed sites — 645, 742, and 1004 Connecticut St.; 934, 945, and 1029 Delaware St.; 821 New York St., and 936 and 946 Pennsylvania St., — deserve historic designation. Each of these locations creates a 250-foot zone with special limitations on development or renovation. Combined, they could effectively shut down any new commercial or retail development.

This proposal comes at a time when many are wondering why Lawrence seems to be stalled in its economic development, as well as its population growth. Others wonder what can be done to pump more growth and development into the east side of Lawrence. It might be timely to check specifically whether the proposed historic designations would help or hinder the economic development in East Lawrence.

Care and preservation of historic sites is important, but it is wrong if such an effort is primarily a method to make it more difficult to remodel or build new homes, and/or to stunt commercial development within the relatively wide “historic” area.


Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

"Combined, they could effectively shut down any new commercial or retail development."

Hardly.... flooded markets and massive economic displacement = funerals by way of reckless economics supported by hasty decisions.

Instead interested parties would only take a little more time to rehab and/or blend in to a particular architecture that has gone missing from most all new Lawrence development in recent years.

This historical architecture is charming, retains value, is warm and natural that to this day receives compliments and draws people to downtown Lawrence.

So many other cities on the planet have restored old neighborhoods which can certainly bring sweet market value. Re-use and restore compliments most small towns and cities.

Create downtown into a beautiful landscape wonderland then observe new economic growth as the result. Re-use, restore and downtown landscape development for a pleasurable experience.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

Make more with what we have = keeps tax dollar increases in check. People are not impressed with new buildings all over the place because it is evidence of irresponsible planning and reckless spending. Shiny new buildings are not beautiful.

More beautiful landscaping is so much more pleasant.

Downtown retailers push for more events events on Mass Street. Times have changed. Keeping people/events on Mass Street retains potential sales on Mass street. Taking people away from Mass Street effectively removes maximum sales potential.

--- Why not move the Farmers Market to the 800 block of Mass Street on Saturday mornings? They open early and shut down by 11AM.

--- Retail hours 11 - 8 PM Retail Lawrence does not seem to get moving much before 11 A.M.

--- Put together an annual “nationally advertised” art fair for Mass Street opening with a VanGO parade. In addition to our Art in the Park venues.

--- Why not a regionally advertised annual Mass Street Fair consisting of local/regional growers,craftsman,artists,brewers plus many cultural events like music scheduled throughout the community.

Catalano 5 years, 1 month ago

I wish we could have gotten a good discussion going about this editorial. It was interesting and brought up several points that were worth discussing.

Do people just give up because merrill posts early and often?

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