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Archive for Friday, May 24, 2013

Editorial: Development shift?

Will city officials be less concerned about downtown Lawrence as they consider future development proposals?

May 24, 2013

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Now that the Rock Chalk Park deal is under way, it is likely City Hall officials and city commissioners will shift gears on their policies relative to encouraging and accepting proposals for new retail development.

Recent city commissioners and City Hall personnel have made it extremely difficult for retailers to receive approval for large developments outside the highly protected downtown area. They did not want to OK anything that might damage the strength of downtown.

Now, many of these same officials are openly talking about major retail development in the far northwest corner of the city adjacent to the Rock Chalk development. With the costs the city has assumed with its recreation center, it will be imperative the city start collecting greater sales tax revenue.

The Menards possibility looks much stronger today than it did a week ago, although several commissioners still may try to force the company to move from a South Iowa Street location to the area near Rock Chalk Park. In the last several years, commissioners have tried to get other retailers, including Lowe’s, interested in the northwest location but have been unsuccessful because retailers want sites surrounded by more residential development.

Now might be a favorable time for other major retailers who have indicated an interest in a facility in Lawrence to consider renewing their efforts — especially if those retailers are willing to build near the intersection of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway.

There’s a saying, “A tiger can’t change its stripes,” but it will be interesting to watch the changes of some city commissioners and city officials who have in the past been so vocal in opposing developments that might hurt downtown.

Comments

jack22 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Sure, we need good paying jobs in Lawrence and yes we have people who can't afford to pay the high price for health care, housing, and food in Lawrence. We also have other infrastructure needs like a new police department, sewer treatment plant, and a long term fix to our crumbling roads and bridges. But come on people, we also have people who have to wait an extra 15 or 20 minutes to play basketball and racquetball in this town. Think of the weekend warriors, now those people won't have to wait to practice their sport, they can use the extra 15 minutes to drive nearly out of town to the "community" recreation center. We should be happy the city wasting our money on things that we'd like to have rather than spend it on things we might need. Our police, roads, sewer/water needs will just have to wait, but hey, sports are more important, right?

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consumer1 10 months, 4 weeks ago

It is an obvious fact that when the liberal left is in power in the city of Lawrence, there is a No build policy. when the conservative right are in power the builders make millions. So, what we will see in the CIty of Lawrence next commission vote will be an overwhelming number of lefties supporting the no build candidates who by the way, support downtown.

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bornherelongago 10 months, 4 weeks ago

South Iowa is for major retailers, not West 6th. Just look at the fact that Menard's is willing to take a secondary location just so they can be near South Iowa. They could have been front and center on West 6th, but chose a "b" location near South Iowa. The next major retailer will be on South Iowa, south of the trafficway, mark my words.

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spiderd 10 months, 4 weeks ago

"In the last several years, commissioners have tried to get other retailers, including Lowe’s, interested in the northwest location but have been unsuccessful because retailers want sites surrounded by more residential development"

Think about this folks. Those who get paid to make sound decisions won't build out there because it's, you know, not actually in town. And this is where our city is building a RECREATION CENTER, a place who's sole puropose is to be accessibile to residents for, you know, recreation. Now, one could say that this is also serving a role as an economic driver so there is worth beyond just "recreation" (maybe we'll get somebody to build out there yet!). But one might then realize that this is a disingenuous use of the 1994 vote for "recreation" that the city is using to justify the project. So far, it appears we're building a county club for the future golf course type developments. Dandy.

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somebodynew 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Downtown only needs to be protected from itself. They stubbornly refuse to change anything that they have done for years, including having hours that people can actually shop (even on holidays). Then they just expect people to come pay their high prices.

The only thing that keeps downtown really viable is restaurants and bars - just look at how many places open/change into a bar at night. Perhaps this CC is smart enough to realize that very few large retailers want, or can afford to, open in downtown with their restrictions.

Look at all the trouble the Neighborhood causes when a developer DOES want to put something new and different close to downtown. In this town if it is old, it must be historic you know. So either let them build elsewhere (within zoning requirements) or drive them away.

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somebodynew 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Yes, what oneeye said !!

(Did I say that out loud?) I need more coffee :)

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oneeye_wilbur 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Downtown will not be hurt by retail south, west or north. What hurts downtown is the ongoing blight of buildings, grease on sidewalks and alleys. The continued disrepair of public parking lots and the shortsightedness of the commission to not have a consistent parking plan downtown, starting with all lots metered.

When we have a City Manager that still allows someone to walk around with a piece of chalk to mark tires, that is the height of inefficieny!

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