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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Development pluses

August 1, 2014

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To the editor:

I am addressing the negative ruling on the Southpoint development made by the planning commission.

I was excited about the development for two reasons: 1) additional retail stores would be entering Lawrence, equating to less trips into Kansas City or Topeka for me and 2) there is no taxpayer subsidization of the development. Being a retiree on a fixed income, economic development is paramount in bringing in additional revenue streams. An initial $1.4 million in sales tax, growing to $2 million by 2020 would help offset future increases in county and city taxes. School taxes will increase if the state cap is altered or removed.

Comments have been made regarding 1) said development would impact downtown and 2) new businesses should locate on the west side. As to Item 1, I love downtown Lawrence, but it doesn’t totally fill my needs. However, my expenditures at the proposed Southpoint stores will divert revenues from KC and Topeka, not downtown Lawrence.

Regarding item 2, my father, a commercial realtor, found that most businesses had done their research on strategic location and if not able to obtain it, did not locate elsewhere in the town. Several retailers have already agreed to locate at Southpoint. It’s doubtful they agreed to Southpoint without performing strategic location analysis.

Are we really going to reject this opportunity for economic growth, increase in tax revenues and additional jobs? I hope the city commissioners will vote “yes” to rezone the land for the Southpoint development.

Comments

Richard Heckler 4 months, 2 weeks ago

"An initial $1.4 million in sales tax, growing to $2 million by 2020 would help offset future increases in county and city taxes. School taxes will increase if the state cap is altered or removed." = (Nothing but rosy speculation )

"1) additional retail stores would be entering Lawrence, equating to less trips into Kansas City or Topeka for me" ----- perhaps if vendors can be found to enter this over loaded retail market.

2) there is no taxpayer subsidization of the development. --- that is not for sure. Perhaps additional sales taxes will be part of the deal. These type of sales taxes go directly to the developers NOT to our cookie jars. NOT TO MENTION the cost of new infrastructure and maintaining the infrastructure = tax dollar subsidies.

" economic development is paramount in bringing in additional revenue streams." --- This is not economic development or growth. This is furthering economic displacement = no economic growth,unfriendly to business and unfriendly to taxpayers

"Several retailers have already agreed to locate at Southpoint" --- really now. Where are the signed leases?

"Are we really going to reject this opportunity for economic growth, increase in tax revenues and additional jobs?" ---- Lawrence does not need a retail project to create new economic growth and new tax dollar revenue. Spending tax dollars on a 5 year project creating new safe bike/pedestrian paths and rehabilitating old sidewalks would do all of that and more. PLUS it would benefit thousands of taxpayers everyday an in some cases provide improved market values IF owners ever want to sell.

Greg DiVilbiss 4 months, 2 weeks ago

First Richard the the sales tax number maybe "rosy" but the fact is if there were not some basis in fact then the retailers would not be interested in locating here.

2) They are not asking for subsidies so if they are not asking for them then it is for sure. The reason why if they did approve a TDD in the area that the developer would get the money is because they built the roads. They pay for them in advance and get paid back over time. A pretty fair tax in my mind in that only people who are shopping there...(using the roads) pay the tax. This is far better in my mind than a property tax increase. BTW...they are not asking for this.

Also if the retail market is so overloaded, why would retailers WANT to come here? How many people leave this town to shop elsewhere?....A lot of people.

3) No one is going to sign a lease in a project that has not been approved.

4) How does repaired sidewalks and having safe bike paths bring revenue to the city as compared to a retail development? Currently how many use bikes to go shopping or walk to a shopping area? Don't get me wrong I think sidewalks should be repaired but the two do not correlate.

Brett McCabe 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Someone should make a movie about all of these mythical shopping trips that people make to Topeka. Some sort of quest/adventure movie where people struggle to spend their money elsewhere.

In regards to Kansas City, people from Lawrence will always go to Kansas City to shop, dine, visit museums, attend games, etc. It's a 45-minute drive to a whole host of attractions. To say that people will stop going to KC is to ignore the obvious: it's a great day trip.

Second - "new" tax revenue is a misnomer for new retail. Here is an example: When Dick's came to town, it added something significant to the retail landscape. Anyone who has been around sports knows that people were definitely driving to Kansas City to purchase sports equipment. Dick's located within the loop, reused an existing vacant building and has been busy since Day One. This all equates to real, new spending in town.

Compare this with Menard's Hardware and Tea Party Supply. While Menard's - as a bigger store with more offerings - will generate good sales. It will cannibalize a large portion of its sales from its neighbor: Home Depot Hardware and Tea Part Supply. The reason? Having a new hardware store isn't going to increase 2x4 sales. Most likely, we'll be looking at an empty Home Depot shell within a few years. If Home Depot were smart, they'd move out to the Rock Chalk area and do it quickly. A large home-supply store located in the wealthiest zip code in town, near a major traffic driver (rec center) and located on two connecting highways will definitely succeed.

One of primary tenants for the Southpointe development is Academy Sports. A direct copy of Dick's. Read the above paragraph, change the names, and you have the same situation.

While people keep quoting business research, they keep forgetting that the research doesn't include the impact on the city, cannibalization of sales and tax revenue, retail vacancies, extension of heavy traffic lanes, city services, etc.

I didn't need a research study to tell me that a city of 90,000 people could use a large-scale sporting goods store. Especially one that is placed inside the current retail loop. I also don't need a study to tell me that, when the rec center opens, Rock Chalk Park gets rocking and further housing development is completed in the area - that this will be an ideal area, as planned - for retail development.

Let's remember what we have: a lot to offer. We don't have to jump at the first thing that comes by. We can wait a little bit and get the thing that we planned for.

Greg DiVilbiss 4 months, 2 weeks ago

So are you saying we should not allow another attorney in this town because we have enough attorneys?

Competition is how things improve...Maybe we should all still be going to Blockbuster instead of Redbox and Netflix.

I am going to go and dig out my betamax right now, and watch The Goonies.

Brett McCabe 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Greg DiVilbiss - King of the Straw Man. I'm happy that you can create imaginary enemies. Perhaps you should go down to the border and shout down some children now.

But, to your point, if an attorney wants to come to town, develop a large piece of real estate south of the city - with no clear benefit to the city - then yes, I think that we should stop the out-of-control imaginary events in your mind, because the prescriptions don't seem to be working.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I think that there needs to be a survey to find out why and if people go out of town to shop. I know we only shop in Kansas City when we are staying up there for a weekend getaway. We almost never go there just to shop. We do go to Costco occasionally, but only when it corresponds with other reasons to go that way. I actually wouldn't mind having a Costco here, but I'm not sure I would make anymore special trips to South Lawrence, than I would to KC. I am happy with our grocery here, but we buy other things in bulk there. I wouldn't use it for my regular grocery purchases. I would think that it would be worth it to our local Chamber of Commerce to do a survey like this, maybe in collaboration with the city and even Downtown Inc.

I'm kind of torn on this development. I mean here is a developer not begging for all kinds of tax breaks, which is refreshing. But do we really need it. If these are going to be small shops at this development, then there are plenty of places for these small businesses to locate to fill in empty retail space. I really miss the days when there was more retail downtown. It's turned into a nice place to eat dinner, but the sidewalk sales are really showing how retail has shrunk there. This is due to the incredibly high rents for space there. Would more retail space out south create a glut that would force rents downtown to be lowered, then mom and pop stores would return? Or would it destroy downtown? I really want to protect our downtown, but I would also like a return to some of the cool shops that used to be located downtown.

Bruce Bertsch 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Some seem to be missing the point...You cannot make retailers build in an area just because that is where you "Horizon" plan wants them. As for the cannibalization argument...I give you Starbucks. There seems to be one everywhere you go. Do you really think that they are purposely cannibalizing their sales? While Dick's and Academy are similar, they are not the same and it does not follow that one will simply leach sales from the other. Choice is a good thing. Do we all want to eat at McDonalds? Is there more than one in Lawrence? Do they seem to make money? Are there also other new eateries that provide similar food opening? These developers are wanting to be here and don't want subsidies other than the cost of infrastructure which is a cost of attracting new businesses. Let them build and let the market decide. Like most, when I want to go downtown to shop that is where I go. It is overly simplistic to believe that just because something similar is closer, I will go there instead of downtown. People have preferences. People are different. Why are we trying to shove them all into one pigeon hole? Why shouldn't Dick's have competition?

Brett McCabe 4 months, 2 weeks ago

It's called planning. Drive by Odessa, MO or the Tanger "Mall" and see what happens when you "let the market decide". We elect leaders to think, not rubber stamp or simply to react to any idea that pops up in some national retail committee meeting.

Richard Heckler 4 months, 2 weeks ago

How does repaired sidewalks and having safe bike paths bring revenue to the city as compared to a retail development?

It takes construction crews to bring more pedestrian/cyclist travel pats to real life and the same for sidewalk rehab. This is long term employment for which we can expect those dollars to be spent locally for the most part. This money spent is economic growth WITHOUT billing more miles of new more expensive infrastructure to the taxpayers existing responsibility.

Currently how many use bikes to go shopping or walk to a shopping area? More than we know. Furthermore I surmise IF more safe paths were constructed and connected from one side of town to another an increase in walkers and cyclists would be realized.

Also if the retail market is so overloaded, why would retailers WANT to come here? Perhaps their consultants are wrong. Lawrence,Kansas is not Boulder,Colorado not by a long shot. Lawrence has Riverfront Plaza,Tanger Mall and Baur farms as examples of not being able to attract tenants and/or not being able to retain tenants. Baur Farms New Urbanism never got off the ground.

How many people leave this town to shop elsewhere?....A lot of people. ------ we assume. Probably a good deal of work commuters to KCMO metro do some shopping while away. I have read numerous times this is a rule of thumb.

We realized when relocating to Lawrence there was not a mall on every corner and were quite pleased with that scenario. Yes we understood what might not be found in Lawrence could be found in the KCMO area = another pleasing scenario. However taking off to KCMO would require a shopping list or most certainly scheduling the event for another day or week would suffice. Most things in life can wait.

People in Lawrence have been shopping KCMO metro for many many many decades and I don't believe consumers were requiring therapists as a result. Shopping KCMO is not an issue really. The fallacy I say is thinking Lawrence can replace KCMO metro shopping which often can be a fun adventure.

Scott Burkhart 4 months, 2 weeks ago

@ Richard Heckler - Sidwalks? Bike paths? ...... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Scott Burkhart 4 months, 2 weeks ago

@ Richard Heckler - Stop it! Stop it! You're killing me!!! BWAH,HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! rofl, tear My sides are killing me!

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