From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for March 7, 1989:
An estimated 70 people turned out as ground was broken today for the $21 million Lawrence Riverfront Plaza. Officials with the East Coast-based developer The Chelsea Group said they hoped to have the 150,000-square-foot factory outlet center open by Christmas. "We are unbelievably fortunate the Chelsea Group has made this commitment to our community," said David Longhurst, adding that the day would be a special one in the history of Lawrence. Mayor Bob Schumm said in prepared remarks that the ground-breaking marked a rebirth of the city's commitment to the riverfront area. "About the turn of the century we started to turn our backs on the river -- the place of our (city's) birth -- and started to develop south along Massachusetts then west, then southwest and so on. Today, once again, we turn our face to the river and open our hearts to this major redevelopment and rebirth of our riverfront and re-establishment of our roots forever," Schumm said. Just off the construction site, a quiet group of protesters carried signs indicating their opposition to the project, specifically the destruction of a stand of cottonwood trees that had overlooked the river which had been used by bald eagles fishing below the Bowersock Dam in the winter months.