Lawrence City Commission to consider site plan for former Jayhawk Bookstore

The former Jayhawk Bookstore building, 1420 Crescent Road, is pictured on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017.

After neighbors’ concerns about the sale of alcohol delayed the decision, the Lawrence City Commission will consider plans to convert the former Jayhawk Bookstore into a bakery and restaurant.

The property, located at 1420 Crescent Road, sits between the University Heights neighborhood and the University of Kansas campus. Earlier this month, the site plan for the restaurant, McLain’s Market, was deferred after neighbors told the commission they are concerned that the restaurant’s alcohol sales and outdoor patio will be disruptive.

The site plan was originally on the commission’s consent agenda, and commissioners voted unanimously to defer their decision and add the item to their regular agenda to allow for more discussion.

“It sounds like there’s some miscommunication and still some questions that need to be answered,” Mayor Leslie Soden said at the time.

A Kansas City-based company filed plans in April to open McLain’s Market in the building. In a statement to the Journal-World Monday, owners of the property wrote that the venue will be nothing like a bar.

“After visiting with a number of possibilities for this space, we believe a bakery is an excellent fit for both the college students as well as the adjacent neighborhood residents,” wrote Ben Kalny, one of the principal operating owners of Axiom Equities, which owns the building. “This bakery will serve alcohol, but with this concept’s other locations, alcohol represents less than 3 percent of revenue. If you look at the other locations, this is nothing like a bar.”

Allison McEldowney, a marketing creative director, and Zach Lee, a designer hired by the owners of McLain's Market in Overland Park, look through a tablet with design plans within the former Jayhawk Bookstore location, 1420 Crescent Road on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017.

The primary change being proposed with the site plan is to change the building’s use from general retail sales to fast order food, which would allow walk-up service restaurants to locate in the space going forward. The zoning does not allow for a bar, but as a restaurant the site could derive up to 45 percent of its total sales from alcohol, according to City Planner Mary Miller.

McLain’s Market operates a location in Overland Park, and similar to that location the Lawrence restaurant will offer bakery items as well as other breakfast and lunch options. McLain’s Market is an expanded version of McLain’s Bakery, which for decades has sold Danish pastries, croissants and other such fare in Kansas City’s Waldo district.

The site plan would not increase the size of the building itself, but does call for the addition of a 40-by-17-foot patio for outside dining. The restaurant will also have a study lounge area on the second floor where patrons can take food and beverages. The plans retain the building’s two upper-level apartments.

As part of the site plan, the commission will also consider approving a right-of-way license for continued use of the off-street parking on Naismith Drive. No changes are being proposed for the property’s existing parking lot.

The property was rezoned as mixed-use in 2008, but prior to that was zoned residential, according to a staff report. The retail and apartment uses were not permitted under the residential zoning but were considered nonconforming uses. One condition of the rezoning in 2008 was that any site plan for a change in use would require public notice and City Commission approval.

In other business, the commission will consider proposed sign code regulations, which will delete and replace the current regulations. The changes regulate sign use by zoning districts and other land conditions, ensuring the city’s sign code is in line with a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision that says regulations for signs must be content-neutral.

The City Commission will convene at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.