Lawrence rejects reduced parking for apartment complex near KU

A proposed $75 million apartment project near Kansas University is back in limbo again after city commissioners on Tuesday rejected a plan that would have reduced the number of onsite parking spaces required for the project.

Commissioners unanimously rejected the idea that the 624-bedroom apartment complex slated for 1101 and 1115 Indiana St. could use nearby parking spaces in KU parking lots to help meet the city’s parking code. Commissioners said they were worried many of those parking lots are already overcrowded and the apartment project would increase the demand for on-street parking in the adjacent Oread neighborhood.

“I believe a KU permit is just something that allows you to go look for a parking space,” Mayor Mike Amyx said. “I would hate for tenants to just have a hunting license.”

A representative with the Chicago-based development group left Tuesday’s meeting without providing any details on whether the latest denial had put the project in jeopardy. Previously, the development group has said the parking exemption was “vital” to the feasibility of the project, which has struggled to garner financing. The development group is seeking to eliminate 100 parking spaces in the proposed parking garage for the project, which would save several million dollars in development costs.

Several Oread residents spoke against the proposed parking reduction, and a representative with KU’s Student Senate also spoke against the request.

“When you come home after a long day of class or after working so you can pay for that apartment you’re living in, you need a spot to park your car all the time, not just when one happens to be available,” said Will Admussen, government relations director for the Student Sentate.

Commissioners also received data showing several of the KU parking lots in the area are oversold. Numbers from KU show the university has issued 373 permits for the 307 parking spaces outside of GSP/Corbin residence halls.

“I just don’t feel like this is worth putting additional stress on the neighborhood,” City Commissioner Jeremy Farmer said.

But at least two commissioners — Mike Dever and Terry Riordan — said they would consider a proposal to allow the apartment project to move forward if KU officials could set aside 100 parking spots specifically for the use of the apartment’s tenants and also provide some assurances that those spots would be available for the next 15 to 20 years.

The development group, HERE LLC, previously said it hoped to break ground on the project by the end of the year.

In other news, commissioners:

• Unanimously directed the city auditor to study six topics during the next year. They are: the workload of the Lawrence Police Department; IT security issues; the city’s financial indicators; downtown parking; the city’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and ways the city can better report on the performance of city departments.