Archive for Monday, May 20, 2013

Planning Commission recommends approval of Menards store for south Lawrence

May 20, 2013


The final nail hasn’t yet been hammered, but plans for a Menards home improvement store in south Lawrence took a large step forward Monday night.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission on a 6-3 vote recommended approval of the plan that calls for a nearly 190,000-square-foot Menards store just east of the Home Depot at 31st and Iowa streets. The Planning Commission decision clears the way for the Lawrence City Commission to give final consideration to the project in the coming weeks.

“I believe Menards will be good for the community,” Planning Commission Chairman Bruce Liese said. “It will provide inventory and options that we won’t have otherwise.”

Monday night’s decision comes one month after the Planning Commission deadlocked on the issue. Menards is proposed for the former Gaslight Mobile Home Village, a site that planners previously had said was best suited for future apartment development. The Planning Commission had to change its long range planning documents for the area in order to clear the way for the Menards store.

“This is a chance for us to take a blighted property and turn it into something better than more apartments,” said Planning Commissioner Richard Hird, who was serving his final meeting on the board. “I just can’t leave here approving more apartments.”

Planning commissioners were divided on the issue, though. Commissioners Lara Adams Burger, Chad Lamer and Jon Josserand voted against the proposal. Commissioner Amalia Graham abstained.

Commissioners cited concerns that the city was becoming overbuilt with retail space. A new City Hall report found the city’s retail vacancy rate was 7.2 percent at the end of 2012, which is near the national average. But the report also raised concerns that the amount of retail square footage in the city is growing faster than the city’s incomes. Plus, commissioners expressed traditional concerns about the impact big box stores have on existing businesses.

“How many big box stores can we have before we lose our community neighborhood hardware stores?” Josserand asked.

But members of the public didn’t express those concerns. Only two members of the public raised concerns about the project at Monday’s meeting. Six members of the public supported the project on Monday. Previously, several residents near the site also had said they preferred a retail store over more apartments for the area.

Planning commissioners are recommending a 200-foot buffer zone on the north edge of the property to alleviate potential drainage issues for the site.

The project will go before the Lawrence City Commission for final consideration, likely within the next two to four weeks.


LogicMan 5 years ago

The turn-around for Lawrence has begun! Great things await us.

parrothead8 5 years ago

I'm sure this influx of low-paying jobs is the cure for all that ails Lawrence.

Currahee 5 years ago

What a greedy comment. This is almost like the one guy who said he would be better off on unemployment than hostess cutting his salary. A job is a job. I've worked my butt off at jobs I never wanted, that paid less and I ended up with a good paying job. What is wrong with you? Do you expect everyone to be paid 50k a year as soon as they're done with high school? The issue at hand is more complicated than what you think; something that you'll never be able to comprehend. Good grief.

Matthew Herbert 5 years ago

@ parrothead- Big box store management positions often pay better than Lawrence public schools teaching positions...I know Home Depot does! just fyi

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

What percentage of the employees at Menards will be management?

riverdrifter 5 years ago

I'd guess there will be about 10-12 of them. All the rest, minimum wage or slightly above. Main effect is more part-time jobs for KU students.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Maybe, but only until sales shifted from other retailers lead to layoffs in those stores.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Only until managers at their competitors get laid off because of reduced sales.

jafs 5 years ago

That means mainly that teachers are underpaid, I'd say.

bmoody51 5 years ago

Cottin's Hardware and Rental IS NOT a chain. It is locally owned and operated by Tom & Linda Cottin. They are affiliated with True Value, but saying they are a chain is the same as saying KU is owned by the Big XII.

bmoody51 5 years ago

Oneeye_wilbur, so if you own two cars, are you a chain car owner. Tom & Linda own only Cottin's Hardware and Rental. There are no other Cottin's Hardware and Rentals. And I will do you the favor of not attacking you personally. We just differ on the definition of "Chain". I do not consider a locally owned and operated single location business a chain.

blondejuan 5 years ago

Hey Just Another Bozo. Jobs are good. There are students and adults that will be happy to work at any wage. Tell me Bozo what company meets this criteria that you are expecting? All high paying jobs, that will come to Lawrence and make it passed the high requirements our city planning office expects and is a company that you feel is good enough for Lawrence?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

The expectation that this new store will lead to an overall increase in employment and collection of sales tax is based on wishful thinking. That doesn't mean that wishes never come true, but they're wishes all the same.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

To the naysayers who say these low paying jobs aren't good, please do feel free to create some well paying jobs, with full benefits like sick pay, vacations, holidays pay, etc. Please, create away.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

There's nothing wrong with low-paying jobs, per se-- what's wrong is adjusting zoning regulations willy-nilly and giving tax breaks in order to create them in a town that already has a much higher percentage of people working low-wage jobs than most cities in the region.

Time to raise the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour, and then raise it with inflation.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Zoning regulations are adjusted all the time. I have no problem with a city saying no to such changes if that's what is determined to be in the best interests of that city. Then again, I have no problem if changes are made when that's determined to be what's best. I don't recall, but were zoning changes made to allow for the artist's community in East Lawrence? Were tax abatements made? Increased infrastructure? I think an artist's community enhances a city and if those incentives were given, I'd be all for it. And when you, Bozo, create some high tech jobs, or whatever it is you create, and ask for those things, to help support the dozens of living wage jobs you're creating, I'll favor those as well. Will you do that, Bozo? Or will you simply sit back and hope others will?

We've discussed raising the minimum wage before. Go to San Francisco, with a much higher minimum wage than what you suggest, and compare the working poor to the working poor here. Their standard of living is worse than it is here, as prices outpace wages.

I have a friend who owns a few restaurants in Utah (part of a chain) and was offered the chance to expand into neighboring Nevada. When that friend compared the operating costs, with Nevada's wages being much higher, he simply declined. You may think that having a higher minimum wage will have no effect on future growth. But when I hear stories like that, when I know I relocated from a very high wage area to a lower wage area, I know these stories are true. Instead of asking for a 30% increase in the minimum wage, why not raise it $.25/hr. this year and again next. Then sit back a year or two and see how it effects the local economy. If the effects are minimal, then raise it again. If the effects are negative, wait for a better time. But the suggestions I've seen here, 30%, 40%, 50%, ... more, that's just plain crazy.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

"Zoning regulations are adjusted all the time."

Yep, pretty much anytime they are requested, which makes zoning largely moot.

"Then sit back a year or two and see how it effects the local economy. If the effects are minimal, then raise it again."

A gradual raise is fine, as long as it's not just a ruse to keep wages at poverty level or lower. At any rate, it's been studied rather extensively, and raising the minimum wage has minimal effects on employment levels.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Raising the minimum wage probably will keep people at poverty levels. I will raise my prices to compensate for having to pay higher wages. My suppliers will raise their prices. Gas and electric companies will raise their prices. Everything will go up a bit, eating away at any increased buying power. It's a zero sum game. You want to play, fine. If not, that's fine too. But until that dishwasher learns the skills necessary to become a cook, until that cook becomes a manager, until that manager becomes an owner, their buying power will remain the same. And when that dishwasher-cook-manager-owner finally does reach whatever end game is theirs, then they will need to hire a dishwasher, who will work for near poverty wages.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

That's a very one-sided view of what happens when minimum wages are raised.

What also happens is those employees have more money to spend. And guess what? They spend it, and the businesses they spend it at may have to expand their businesses, which includes hiring more people.

Also, if your business isn't important enough in the lives of your patrons to pay a few pennies extra (raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour is calculated to raise the average overall expenses of most businesses by around 2%) when purchasing whatever it is you provide, then it really isn't all that essential to them. But they'll still spend that money somewhere-- it won't just vanish into the ether. That's how markets work when they aren't distorted thru poverty wages.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

A process that allows meaningful input from all stakeholders, not just from the lawyers and lobbyists for the deepest pockets who can camp out at commission meetings and otherwise dominate a very nontransparent process. And a whine about meetings and paperwork is a poor justification for allowing the city government to operate as a rubber-stamp for development interests.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 5 years ago

Very strange, they nixed Lowe's and may approve Menards. I guess because Lowe's prices are higher. I go to Topeka and shop all three stores (Home Depot included). No one can predict how liberals think. Lawrence police need a new building, yet a library extension and rec center are more important. I would like to see a law enforcement center, as Topeka has, housing both the police and sheriff offices. Another thing Topeka has that works out great, is 911 dispatch facilities are under the sheriff's office. After all, the sheriff is a county's chief law enforcement officer ( next to the DA ). All these are more important to me than a library extension or rec center.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 5 years ago

My wife and I worked in Topeka for 25 years, but we choose to live in Douglas County. Initially it was because of lower taxes, plus we liked the terrain of the land we owned along the Kaw river. We can live and shop where ever we please. My wife works in Lawrence, but we live in the county not the city, and we like it here. Nice to see that people actually read the comments after an article.

Thinking_Out_Loud 5 years ago

I have a couple of thoughts, Lynn. First, I don't understand why you're in Lawrence? The tone of your post leads me to believe that you strongly prefer Topeka for what you see as a less liberal mindset, more efficient use of law enforcement resources, and better shopping. I'm not arguing with you on any of these (although I have opinions on all three), to be clear. I just don't understand why, if Topeka offers so much more, you are still here.

Thinking_Out_Loud 5 years ago

My next point, Lynn, would be that Topeka also has the library and recreational facilities that you are decrying we don't need. If those are the difference between "liberal" and "non-liberal" thinking, how is it that Topeka has both the things you prefer and the things you decry as liberal thinking? I modestly suggest that perhaps those things are not mutually exclusive, that you have established a false dichotomy, and that either Lawrence is not the liberal wasteland or Topeka is not the antiliberal Mecca you seem to think they are....

bad_dog 5 years ago

From what I've seen, Topeka could use some more LE. Or perhaps a complimentary "Keep our Criminal Offenders at Home" program.

As for the Lowe's issue, I believe they were approved in theory, but they decided not to build after they couldn't obtain their pet location adjacent to the 6th & Waka Walmart. Their choice. They could have had a location close to the west, but that wasn't good enough. In retrospect, with all the development now planned for that area, it may have been a real stupid decision on their part. Too bad for Lowes.

bad_dog 5 years ago

Like I said yesterday, too bad for Lowes.

Next time you pass a Lowes, check to see where the Walmart is located. Next time you pass a Walmart (other than Lawrence) check to see where the Lowes is located. It appears this particular big box store likes to "box' itself only into locations adjacent to a certain other big box. That's their problem.

Carol Bowen 5 years ago

Lowe's withdrew its request. Because of a downturn in retail, they decided not to expand. It was in the news not related to its rezoning request in Lawrence.

Carol Bowen 5 years ago

Lowe's withdrew its request. Because of a downturn in retail, they decided not to expand. It was in the news not related to its rezoning request in Lawrence.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

So is it now prohibited to call straw-man arguments for what they are?

bad_dog 5 years ago

Many of the criticisms you post have the same application for the 1%.

Corporate/agricutural welfare

Business owners, sole proprietors, partnerships, S-Corps don't have to pay income taxes on earnings, while the lower classes subsidize this through higher sales and property taxes.

VIP tours of Disney World for able bodied wealthy tourists, conducted by disabled persons to circumvent long lines at rides.

CEOs deserve wages hundreds of times higher than line workers while they rob the company blind and run it into the ground, ruining shareholder value and public confidence. Oh and then collect a big severance package or "golden prachute" on th way out.

There's plenty of problems out there, but it ain't the one-sided view you so warmly embrace.

Sue McDaniel 5 years ago

Lowe's would have been a much better choice, figures they would let Menards in......

Thinking_Out_Loud 5 years ago

It's easy to take potshots. "Oh, this was a bad choice. The other choice would have been better." Especially if you don't feel like going to the intellectual effort of actually explaining why Choice A is superior to Choice B.

LogicMan 5 years ago

Lowe's is still welcome! They just need a better site, and hopefully are still interested in NW Lawrence.

Armstrong 5 years ago

Larryville planning commish, welcome to the 21st century

LogicMan 5 years ago

Hopefully they are now grasping the concept of giving the people what they want and can afford.

Next up, get Red Lobster or another seafood restaurant to come to town?

Jonathan Fox 5 years ago

I'm really tired of hearing about loosing small businesses to big box stores. Big box stores in Lawrence mean that people don't have to drive to Topeka and Kansas City to go to one. It's about time all that big box spending occurred in Lawrence for our own city to get the tax revenue.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

"I'm really tired of hearing about loosing small businesses to big box stores."

Then please don't make the argument that big box stores increase choice, or jobs or tax collections. Just say you prefer big, corporate box stores over home-owned, home-grown stores and leave it at that.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.

I'm not anti-growth. I just don't worship at the altar of growthism. So call me a "growth" agnostic.

Liberty275 5 years ago

fredthemechanic, you must be a mechanic. How are the single proprietor shops around town doing against Meineke or Firestone? We seem to have lots of independent shops around here.

Lee Saylor 5 years ago

“How many big box stores can we have before we lose our community neighborhood hardware stores?” Josserand asked.

How many community neighborhood hardware stores do we have?

Cottins, Ernst and Sons, Bargain Depot

Other Hardware stores: Westlake Ace Hardware (with stores in KS, OK, IA, MO, NE, NM, TX), Orscheln, Tractor Supply Co, Home Depot, Sears Home Store, McCray Lumber,

patkindle 5 years ago

Lawrence is all about homeless, art, booze and drugs we don't need no more hammer stores, that means work, and we don't cotton much to that kinda stuff

workinghard 5 years ago

Maybe if we build a Menard's here, the people from KC will come here to shop since they don't have one. Then they may wander downtown since they have probably heard their friends talk about it. Might even benefit some of the local artists. I say go for it. Did you know there are no Dillion's grocery stores in the KC area except Leavenworth? They did finally get a Dunkin Donuts in KC, MO. People used to pay us to bring Dunkin Donuts to them when we would go that way. So I could see where building a Menard's might draw in customers for other businesses in Lawrence.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Menard's isn't going to provide anything that isn't already available in KC. And even if they do come, they aren't of the same demographic that would want to go to downtown Lawrence.

LogicMan 5 years ago

"they aren't of the same demographic that would want to go to downtown Lawrence."

For individual Menards shoppers, I mostly agree. But couples on game days, on sidewalk sale day, art in the park, etc, could find one or both going downtown.

When will the SLT be finished as compared to when Menards is expected to open?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

I don't think I understand. What do the sidewalk sale, game days, art in the park have to do with Menard's?

Liberty275 5 years ago

The point is a little obscure. While the demographic on an individual (I'd say random) basis is the same most everywhere, the people coming to visit Lawrence would be somewhat more inclined to buy the sort of thing Menards specializes in. For Art in the Park, Maybe they forgot their lawn chairs at home, and Menards seems like the sort of place that would have such things, so they visit Menards and spend money, then they go downtown and maybe spend money. Maybe on sidewalk sale day, Lorraine from Baldwin decided it was hot and wanted an umbrella (people from Baldwin don't use parasols) to shade her from the sun. So there is Menards, and she has the credit card.

It could work the opposite as well. Lorraine could be coming up here to shop at Menards, then convince her man Buddy to take her downtown. Win/win.

More succinctly, if you come to downtown Lawrence for some event, you are more prone to shop at Menards than if you were only shopping for things like Menards sells.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

"The point is a little obscure."

With heavy emphasis on obscure, and almost no point whatsoever.

Not to mention "no sale."

workinghard 5 years ago

When I go to Olathe to go to Lowe's, as long as I have driven there I also use that opportunity to go to other shops that are not in Lawrence, I definitely go to Petsmart (which is better than Petco) and Half Price bookstore.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Yea, I'm sure all of those shoppers from small towns who already have other not-in-Lawrence shopping options will dramatically expand the home-improvement sales in Lawrence. (sarcasm)

See my post on wishful thinking above.

msezdsit 5 years ago

"The project will go before the Lawrence City Commission for final consideration, likely within the next two to four weeks."

That will be a slam dunk

Is there going to be an annex for Westboro Babtist Church somewhere in that 190g sq ft?

Liberty275 5 years ago

this is encouraging news. The south end of town is doing very well.

jafs 5 years ago


I'd wait a while to see what happens - if they just put HD out of business, it's not much of a net positive.

msezdsit 5 years ago

They will hurt each other enough that eventually on of them will decide whether they should close their store. My guess is this process will take 2 or 3 years. Both can operate at a loss and write it off but will tire of this eventually.

Liberty275 4 years, 12 months ago

That's called competition. World Market and Pier One do the same thing. They also have great sales. We shop at both.

Liberty275 4 years, 12 months ago

Sounds to me like Home Depot needs to lower their prices and put more items on sale, more often. Win/win.

Can we also get a MicroCenter down south to force Best Buy to drop their prices too?

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

A 7.2 percent national vacancy rate is high no matter that it is a national average.

What will the city do should Home Depot sue them for practicing reckless economics or negligent economics? Menard's is coming in assuming they can effectively shut down Home Depot. Simply put there is not enough business at one location to keep both stores healthy in the black.

One thing I've learned about Lawrence big box stores is that generally they are smaller and carry fewer products than big city stores. Which means some folks will still be driving to Topeka or wherever to satisfy their demands.

Remember Wal-Mart put the nails in the coffin of K-MART when they were allowed to build a larger store closer to K-MART.

I'm wondering why the powers that be did not encourage Menard's to build on the Farmland property? So that property could be generating jobs and tax revenue more quickly. Filling that piece of real estate could take 25-30 years...... like East Hills which may have vacancies as we speak. IF the powers that be are truly concerned about capturing some of those Johnson County dollars?

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