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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Plan needed

November 22, 2013

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To the editor:

Recently we learned of development plans for a seven-story building at 11th and Massachusetts. The corner has been underutilized for years, is ripe for development, represents another opportunity for Lawrence to develop and implement a Downtown Urban Design Plan prior to granting a building permit and tax subsidies that will likely be requested. Such a plan would tell us what and where to build and how to design what we build while protecting historic neighborhoods around the downtown.

This intersection is the front door of Lawrence, nestled among three historic buildings. The design of the building should be part of a plan for how we want downtown Lawrence to look and function. Our decisions today will impact future generations to come. The developer states in the Journal-World, “It is going to be a tall building, it has to be a tall building to make it work.” This statement is reason to pause. There are many factors that should be considered by the developer and his architects to create a building that conveys our rich history, the times we live in today and what we can become.

I look forward to seeing the design of the proposed building and recommendations from local and state historic preservation professionals. We all have ownership in this development. The demand for apartments and a drug store downtown Lawrence is not sufficient reason to build it. We have to get this right. Let’s develop a comprehensive Downtown Urban Design Plan before this project is approved.

Comments

Richard Heckler 1 year ago

Tom Harper presents a logical and comprehensive viewpoint regarding the future of Lawrence.

“It is going to be a tall building, it has to be a tall building to make it work.” = What this group most always says YET cannot make it work without millions in tax $$$$$ handouts that I believe is not supported by the greater majority of tax payers. It is simply not the most fiscal responsible use of tax dollars. Since when does Lawrence,Kansas not need all to pay their taxes?

Monday I learned that Lawrence,Kansas has been subjected to more than a 100% increase in taxes. Which tells me a huge chunk of new development over the years is not paying back the piper which is you and me the taxpayers. Expanding the tax base has in fact been expanding our tax bills. The laissez faire approach has failed.

Again Tom Harper presents a logical and comprehensive viewpoint regarding the future of Lawrence which deserves respect.

Rob Chestnut 1 year ago

We have a comprehensive set of downtown design guidelines adopted in late 2008. If you look at the planning department documents on the website you will find a 121 page pdf that details a number of parameters for the proposed structure.

http://www.lawrenceks.org/assets/pds/planning/documents/DowntownGuidlines.pdf

Mr. Harper and other interested parties should participate in the process. Every citizen of Lawrence should have an interest in this project, because it has the potential to be a tremendous gateway to the south end of downtown. However, they do not have ownership in this project. That takes a willingness to risk millions of dollars that could potentially result in significant losses for the investors. That is ownership.

My hope is that we strike a reasonable balance between compliance to established guidelines and the need for a reasonable return in order to get a great project.

John Graham 1 year ago

Because instead of a new building with a business and residences, some would rather continue to look at the lovely boarded up building because it goes with the architecture of the surrounding buildings.

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