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Archive for Friday, March 28, 2014

Plans filed for retail strip along South Lawrence Trafficway

March 28, 2014

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Plans have been filed at City Hall for a new retail development that would add more than 20 new stores and restaurants along the South Lawrence Trafficway.

An out-of-state development group has filed plans for a vacant 160 acres near the southeast corner of Iowa Street and the unfinished South Lawrence Trafficway.

Developers have secured an option to purchase the property, and have been shopping the site to national retailers for several months.

“When we started marketing this, we got a very strong and positive response from national retailers,” said Chris Challis, a broker working on the project with Florida-based Collett & Associates and Oklahoma-based Sooner Investments.

A concept plan filed at City Hall shows spaces for 10 large retailers ranging in size from 74,000 square feet to about 10,000 square feet. In addition, the plans show 11 outlying lots that would ring the property and could accommodate restaurants or smaller retailers.

The site is the same location that was proposed to house a controversial suburban mall — dubbed the “cornfield mall” — in the late 1980s. The recent concept plan filed at City Hall doesn’t call for a mall. It instead resembles a more traditional shopping center, such as the Pine Ridge Plaza that houses Kohl’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, TJ Maxx and other retailers.

The plan calls for a 74,000-square-foot anchor tenant, which, for comparison purposes, is about the size of the Kohl’s store in Lawrence. The plan also has space for 56,000- and 51,000-square-foot stores. Other larger spaces include 30,000-, 25,000- and 17,000-square-foot retail buildings. For comparison purposes, TJ Maxx and Bed Bath & Beyond are both in that 25,000 square foot range.

Challis said the development group will work hard to bring in new types of retailers to Lawrence, specifically those that have been drawing Lawrence shoppers to Johnson or Shawnee counties.

“What we do best is create regional drawing-power shopping centers,” Challis said.

Challis, though, said the development group understands that in Lawrence it will require a balancing act to make sure a new development doesn’t harm the health of downtown.

“We understand that everyone wants to preserve the great Main Street that Massachusetts Street is,” Challis said.

That likely will be a key consideration as the project works its way through the City Hall approval process. The City Commission ultimately will decide whether to grant the necessary land use approvals.

The size of the project is likely to cause some community members to question whether the city’s retail market is healthy enough to absorb such a major expansion. Challis said his group will note that many retailers are eager to get into the Lawrence market because they see the amount of shopping that Lawrence residents do in Johnson and Shawnee counties.

The project — which technically would be located on 166 acres, but about 45 acres would be designated as open space due to floodplain considerations — could be heard as soon as May by the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission. Consideration by the Lawrence City Commission would follow. Challis said the group would like to have the center ready to open by the time the trafficway is completed in 2016.

Comments

Brett McCabe 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Out-of-state inspired sprawl is not what the community needs. There are plenty of underused and/or vacant locations for retailers to locate along South Iowa and 23rd.

This is a "more of the same" retail mentality that just continues to shift commerce further away from the city core, create stress and vacancies on current properties and adds virtually nothing in the way of quality jobs or new tax revenue. It does add cost, though, by continuing to stretch the city. We have plenty of cookie-cutter companies in town already and we have the Tea Party Hardware store coming, so we should be all set with ways to send our money out of the city.

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Richard Heckler 5 months, 3 weeks ago

This group must have plenty of money to lose. The dollars are NOT here to support more economic displacement centered around retail development. Sooner of later will this be a bankruptcy case?

The spenders are not here. More people are leaving Kansas than moving in according to the KC star today. This is NOT Boulder, Colorado nor Santa Fe, New mexico nor Durham,North Carolina.

Lawrence is a high cost of living bedroom community, high taxes and among the lowest wage cities in the state.

Where's the money? Lawrence is surrounded by larger retailers in Olathe,KCMO Metro and Topeka none of which are very far away. Shoppers in those communities have zillions of choices and don't need a Lawrence shopping experience that is not in downtown Lawrence.

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Richard Heckler 5 months, 3 weeks ago

It seems to outside developers just got duped into buying a piece of real estate .

The shopping has gone well because the group has filed plans for what would be one of the larger Lawrence retail developments in recent memory.

(((Expect some retailers to close their doors.)))

"A concept plan filed at City Hall shows spaces for 10 large retailers ranging in size from 74,000 square feet to about 10,000 square feet. In addition, the plans show 11 outlying lots that would ring the property and could accommodate restaurants or smaller retailers.

"When we started marketing this, we got a very strong and positive response from national retailers," said Chris Challis, a broker working on the project with Florida-based Collett & Associates and Oklahoma-based Sooner Investments."

Maybe outside developers just got duped into buying a piece of not moving real estate aka bailing out a bad investment?

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Richard Heckler 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Reckess growth is draining our wallets and increasing our taxes aka not paying back the taxpayers.

We also need a vision that realizes that the Lawrence,Kansas quality of life is being threatened by the increased crime rate which is directly connected to unchecked and irresponsible population growth. More cops and an expanded LPD budget cannot and will not stop crime growth.

Sprawl Is Related To Draining Wallets….. certainly is.

Sprawl Cost Us All http://www.sierraclub.org/sprawl/report00/intro.asp

The trend is downtown http://www.nbcnews.com/id/30810275/#.UlUyt2Tk8Wc

--- America is Over Stored http://www.newsweek.com/id/112762

--- Next Decade Has Bleak Growth Prospects http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/01/03/us-usa-economy-dismal-idUSTRE6021LK20100103?feedType=RSS&feedName=businessNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+reuters%2FbusinessNews+%28News+%2F+US+%2F+Business+News%29

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Richard Heckler 5 months, 3 weeks ago

This notion of "expanding the tax base" has done nothing but increase the taxes for the locals due to a severe case of economic displacement driven by flooded markets.

No one can afford the "Corporate Free Lunch Menu" if you will.

http://www.sierraclub.org/sprawl/report00/intro.asp

David Cay Johnston http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/18/free_lunch_how_the_wealthiest_americans

Bill Moyers http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/01182008/transcript.html

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Richard Heckler 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Lawrence has three major retail failures.

Riverfront Plaza in downtown Lawrence.

I-70 Tanger Mall in North Lawrence and the name has since changed.

Bauer Farms New Urbanism Retail/Residential Center which never materialized instead became a slow slow but sure junk food mecca on west 6th still looking for tenants after 7-8 years. In addition to a higher special sales tax attached to this project.

Wal-Mart is a very slow Wal-Mart according to vendors.

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Andrew Stahmer 5 months, 3 weeks ago

At least Riverfront has managed to stay 'mostly' occupied over the years following the 'factory outlet' fad. I haven't been over to the former 'Tanger'; last time I did it lay mostly abandon, besides the long, slow moving lines at the Ks/DLEO...

I personally avoid the S Iowa Walmart because of the congestion...so I guess I'm kind of thankful for that sluggish N Lawrence Walmart paradox.

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Steve Jacob 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I find it interesting everything is opening up on South Iowa. Maybe retailers are finding out you are limiting your Lawrence market by going to 6th and Wak. Whats going to happen around Rock Chalk Park area?

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5 months, 3 weeks ago

If you shopped at Walmart you would never think it was slow. The South store is always full when I go out there, the West one not so much.

I would like to see more specialty stores such as those with clothes instead of more stores that have everything. A shoe store that sells comfortable, yet stylish shoes to those of us with broad feet would be nice.

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Thomas Kurata 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Thank you, Richard Heckler, for pointing out that the Bauer Farm is a special tax district where the stores there impose an additional 1% sales tax that goes back to the developer(s). I believe this is what is known as a Transportation Development District, or TDD. The Oread is the second special tax district in Lawrence in which an additional tax is added to the sales tax.

When I communicated with the city commissioners about this in January, 2010 after my wife and I discovered that the CVS pharmacy at Bauer Farm was charging 8.85% rather than 7.75% sales tax, then commissioner Dever responded with,

"The short answer to your many questions is that the DEVELOPER of the property asked for a special taxing authority to help pay for their required improvements for the Bauer Farms Development. The city had several public meetings related to this request and it was approved by the city commission.

This is becoming more common in other communities, and there are several examples of such special tax areas (TDD’s) in suburban Kansas City.

I am sure you will get a more comprehensive response, but I wanted to quickly answer your question. This was not a CITY driven tax increase. This was at the request of the developer only. They are the ones “taxed “ with finding tenants for their development, and shoppers willing to pay the extra amount for the privilege.

I hope you have a great day."

The problem I have with these special tax districts is that the taxpayers are not allowed to vote on them. Moreover, there is a lack of transparency. For example, where are the financial reports showing the amount of sales tax being collected from both Bauer Farm and The Oread, and how much is going back to the developers? Commissioner Bob Schumm has referred to these special taxes in the past as "sneaky taxes." I recall Commissioner Mike Amyx once stating that the businesses should prominently post a sign that an additional sales tax is being imposed.

Here is a link that describes the experience of Columbia, MO with their 13 TDDs. There have been a lot of problems with compliance, according to this report, not to mention dissatisfaction by Columbia taxpayers. http://columbiabusinesstimes.com/4402/2009/05/01/tdds-tap-sales-tax-bypass-voters-city/

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