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What would you like to see done with the I-70 Business Center property?

Asked at DMV, 1035 N. Third St. on May 8, 2010

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Photo of Naoma McElroy

“I’d like to see retail come back the way it was when it was originally put in.”

Photo of Carley Doores

“As it stands, I think that the only thing you can do is turn it into some sort of manufacturing (facility) or something.”

Photo of Hyung Joon

“I would like to see more places to buy clothes … some boutique shops with more selections.”

Photo of Kelsey Nill

“I would definitely like to see some more retail out here … maybe some clothing stores.”


Bill Lee 7 years, 10 months ago

Move the Watkins Museum out there so they'd have more exhibit space and a lot more parking.

Horatio Bfor 7 years, 10 months ago

How about just leave it as a monument to stupid planning?

Richard Heckler 7 years, 10 months ago

Sorry folks a plan is under way by a commercial real estate agent. It is becoming a "storage area" aka warehousing. It was rezoned quietly from commercial to light industrial some time ago.

Meanwhile Lawrence ,Kansas is still over built in retail which is one big reason the commercial venture failed .... same with Riverfront Plaza.

Flooded retail markets is business unfriendly!

BigPrune 7 years, 10 months ago

Lawrence is NOT flooded in retail. Lawrence is trying to overcome the restrictions your PLC put into place, a conspiracy to stifle retail growth at every turn. After 5 years of that insanity it's hard to turn things around, especially since the national economy sucks.

independant1 7 years, 10 months ago

Nudist public park with gazaebo er gazebo, er garbanzo, gazebo, heck with it, gazing ball would do.

Stuart Evans 7 years, 10 months ago

are you on it right now? you're going really fast...

BigPrune 7 years, 10 months ago

The outlet malls were going the way of the dodo bird when they were put in. Even the outlet mall in Olathe struggled for years to stay afloat - and they succeeded due to a larger population to draw from.

They should put some buildings in the middle of the parking lot, like some free standing restaurants or an office building (gulp) so it doesn't look so much like a strip mall gone vacant.

Steve Jacob 7 years, 10 months ago

Have you seen the Olathe Mall as of late?

geekyhost 7 years, 10 months ago

I was gonna say... Isn't it down to Hot Topic and a few rental massage chairs or something?

William McCauley 7 years, 10 months ago

It would make a nice homeless shelter, close to the tracks for all the new bums coming to town and easy to find, walking distance form downtown too for the current bums.

BigPrune 7 years, 10 months ago

I always wondered how Cracker Barrel would have fared since they wanted to go in but the City said hell no?

brewmaster 7 years, 10 months ago

How about if a construction business, real estate firm and bank give back the public financing and municipal funds they received for that failed project.

Those bandits were all self-inflated and boastful about their business acumen. They knew that if it failed they would still be enriched since it was public money at risk and not their own money. Of course, it tax payer expense.

50YearResident 7 years, 10 months ago

Post by Merrill....Meanwhile Lawrence ,Kansas is still over built in retail which is one big reason the commercial venture failed .... same with Riverfront Plaza.

Wrong, they both failed because of a lack or good entrance and exit drives. If there had been 2 ways in and 2 ways out of either one the may have survived. Riverfront Plaza, the only in and out was on a busy curve.
I-70 the only way in was at a stoplight with a very bad left turn signal that you had to wait 2 light changes to make it into the center.

beatrice 7 years, 10 months ago

Cracker Barrel? Is that where the Teabaggers go for lunch?

Jay Keffer 7 years, 10 months ago

Bea is obsessed with that term.

At ease, sailor!

Liberty275 7 years, 10 months ago

Teabaggers do seem to be on her mind most of the time. I wonder what Freud would say.

SLOPOKE 7 years, 10 months ago

I'd Like to see a Casino there so all the passer by's will make a nice contibution to our fine community, screw all the ATF tax increase's

Richard Heckler 7 years, 10 months ago

By Kim McClure

July 24, 2009

To the editor:

The July 14 editorial asks, “What’s downtown going to look like five, 10 or 15 years from now?” The answer can be known, and the picture is not pretty.

Lawrence has enough spending to support about 4.1 million square feet of retail space, but the City Commission permitted developers to expand the supply to over 5.5 million square feet.

Lawrence has too much retail space chasing too few vendors, which means that many stores go empty, especially in the older shopping centers like downtown.

The surplus development has stalled redevelopment plans downtown and has pushed the vacancy rates so high that disinvestment and blight now threaten. Investment, both public and private, is wasted. The taxpayers’ $8 million parking garage stands largely empty. The Hobbs-Taylor building and the 600 block of Massachusetts should be the top performing spaces in the community, but they have significant vacancies.

The recession has contributed to the problem, but had we properly managed our growth we would be much better off.

The developers’ short-term gain is now our long-term loss. Managed growth would have prevented much of the problem and would have protected and enhanced our downtown.

It will take many, many years to absorb this surplus space and, until this happens, it will be hard for downtown to compete. We can only look forward to many years of high vacancy and disinvestment. We need a City Commission that knows how to pace the growth of supply so as to protect our unique downtown.

McClure is from Lawrence

Richard Heckler 7 years, 10 months ago

Basic findings:

  1. Lawrence is overbuilt in housing: Homes were built faster than popualtion growth supporting these homes. Excessive subdivisions caused an outmigration from older neighborhoods causing a severe loss of value, a loss of dwelling units, and a variety of other problems such as school closings.

  2. Lawerence is overbuilt in retail: Stores were built faster than retail spending growth supporting these stores. This excessive growth has hurt the public and private investment in downtown redevelopment (e.g.: the empty $8 million parking garage, the empty Hobbs-Taylor space, etc.) and has caused deterioration and blight in existing shopping centers (e.g.: Tanger Mall, Food-for-Less, etc.)

  3. Douglas County is overbuilt in manufacturing and warehousing; employment in these sectors is declining, not growing. Yet, the Chamber calls for more and more space in the false belief that more supply creates more demand.

  4. Office space in Douglas County is relatively well balanced, but the market for office space is severely crippled by the excessive supply of unused retail space which is competing for office tenants.

Basic strategy:

Lawrence should adopt a policy of "cooling off" the pace of development. Note: This is not a moratoriam; it is a consicous effort to redirect growth to existing neighborhoods and districts where it can be beneficial.

Housing: The city should stop approving new subdivisions until the existing supply of surplus homes is eliminated. It should direct housing investment back into older neighborhoods so as to preserve and protect the existing public and private investment there.

Commercial space: The city should stop approving plans for new commercial space until the existing surplus is eliminated. It should direct investment into the preseration of the downtown and other existing commercial districts so as to preserve and protect the existing publid and private investment there.

Kirk McClure – Lawrence,Kansas

Education Ph. D., City Planning, University of California, Berkeley, Department of City and Regional Planning, 1985. Concentrations in Housing Economics and Public Finance.

Master in City Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, 1978. Specialization in Housing Policy Analysis.

Bachelor of Arts, University of Kansas, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 1974. Special Major in Urban Studies.

Bachelor of Architecture, Graduated With Distinction University of Kansas, School of Architecture and Urban Design, 1973.

independant1 7 years, 10 months ago

Keep thinking, things are getting too corporate in Larryville.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 10 months ago

WE must not forget,

The Chamber of Commerce and the real estate/building powers that be have controlled the county,city and planning commissions for at least 25 years. So maybe some local business owners are not the best choices for city government and planning commissions. They have raised taxes and user fees, built a high tax dollar bedroom community and over built the retail market.

If this was such a hot retail market big time vendors would be standing in line asking for OUR tax dollars. More likely than not the Chamber would encourage giving OUR tax dollars away and city officials would say yes. My answer would be why screw over existing retail who are paying their own way?

Meanwhile: Well, what is tax increment financing? I’ll tell you what it is. You go to the store with your goods, you pay for it at Wal-Mart, and there’s a very good chance that that store has made a deal with the government that the sales taxes you are required to pay, that government requires you to pay, never go to the government. Instead, those sales taxes are kept by Wal-Mart and used to pay the cost of the store. And typically in those deals, the store is tax exempt, just like a church.

Now, there are two ways that it’s important to think about this. One is, that means your kid’s schools, your police department, your library, your parks are not getting that money. And you’ll notice we keep saying we’re starved for money. We’re twice as wealthy as we were in 1980, but we’ve got to close hospitals, and we’ve got to close schools, and we don’t have money for all sorts of things like after-school programs, even though we’re twice as wealthy.

The second thing to think about is, imagine that you own Amy Goodman’s or Juan’s department store across the street. You suddenly have to compete with people whom the government is giving a huge leg up on. You think you would go broke after a while? Well, in fact, you will.

1southernjayhawk 7 years, 10 months ago

Would love to see a Wickes Lumber with a Foster or Diamond Lumber next door!

Richard Heckler 7 years, 10 months ago

Lawrence,Kansas is known for KU and downtown Lawrence. Downtown Lawrence is where visitors come to shop. Families like downtown Lawrence as retail center.

Downtown Lawrence is the retail business district. Put it back together and make money.

Bring in: Apple Sony Style Old Navy Lands End a garden center

to blend in with the existing ecelectic mix and all will benefit from the foot traffic. Maybe then we'll begin to see our property taxes level out to a 4% increase every year as it should be.

I say Downtown Lawrence Inc will need to see the value in closing down two blocks on Mass for frequent festivals and two side walk sales(spring and early fall on basketball and football days).

The old plans are not working anymore.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 10 months ago

America Is Over Stored

This decade's building frenzy produced a bumper crop of new retail space. But the occupants haven't materialized.

The carnage in retail hasn't been this bad since an anarchist bombed Chicago's Haymarket Square in 1886. In January, Liz Claiborne said it would shutter 54 Sigrid Olsen stores by mid-2008; Ann Taylor announced that 117 of its 921 stores would be closed over the next three years, and Talbots axed the Talbots Men's and Talbots Kids concepts and 22 Talbots stores. (Those muffled screams you hear are Connecticut preppies trying to suppress their rage.) Even Starbucks has scaled back its yearlong saturation-bombing campaign.

Blame that exhausted marathon runner, the American consumer. Fueled by cheap credit instead of PowerGel, she looked great at Mile 16, but bonked at Mile 23 and is now crawling to the finish line. Sales fell in December, putting the cap on a miserable Christmas season. Last week the government reported that retail sales rose 3.9 percent between January 2007 and January 2008. But back out inflation and sales of gasoline, and retail sales fell in real terms in the past year. Clearly, demand is down.

And supply is up. This decade's building frenzy produced a bumper crop of new retail space—from McStrip malls built near new McMansions, to hip new boutiques in the ground floors of hip new Miami condo buildings. But as is the case with those McMansions and condos, the occupants for new retail space haven't materialized. In the fourth quarter of 2007, the national retail-vacancy rate rose for the 11th straight quarter to 7.5 percent—the highest level since 1996, according to research firm Reis, Inc. With new projects coming online—34 million square feet of retail space will be completed in 2008—the rate is expected to spike further to 8 percent. In the parlance of the trade, many chains are simply over-stored.


inklines 7 years, 10 months ago

Bring a junior college or a vocational school to Lawrence and locate it there so we don't have to commute to KC metro area. [Or put in a go-cart/ motocross racetrack. :) ]

geekyhost 7 years, 10 months ago

JCCC has a small Lawrence campus over at Centennial School, but KU won't let them teach any classes that KU also teaches. Expanding their presence would be a good idea.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 10 months ago

At least it's paved so people don't have to mow it.

bearded_gnome 7 years, 10 months ago

oh did Merrill/spambot/lawnmowerman do the usual vapid cut-and-paste again? and repeating KM's statements doesn't serve as anybody's evidence.

hey Merrill, how about that nude gardening? or your nude bicycling and nude hiking you promote? you want us to have enforced blackouts to force electricity conservation! you think broken streets serve a valid purpose as passive traffic calming devices. you are on the dreaded traffic safety commission, and you oppose all driving. you believe that if we all lived in caves it would be better for the environment.

*Prune is right, along with G-rock: Riverfront and Tanger failed because your PLC/antibusiness/antigrowth restrictions. you people tried to do the same thing to the oread inn. among other things, you kept the riverfront from being large enough to have at least one good anchor store, and you kept restaurants and other high traffic business out of Tanger.

Bea gets a thrill, an obscene thrill, out of repeating sexual vulgarities.

bearded_gnome 7 years, 10 months ago

Spacehog: spacehog (anonymous) says…

Of course it was quietly rezoned. I'm telling you, it's gonna be a light industrial meth warehouse. And guess who's gonna be in charge? Man, I'm gonna have to brush up on what it's like to have a job again. Hey Hyung, know anything about chemicals? I could use a good cook, you look like a good prospect.

---Spacehog, just think of the bennies with that job! all the meth-adicted broads you want!

and don't be baggin' on Hyung, I'll bet she works hard at legitimate pursuits.

besides, my Oky-lahomy cuzin Earl Leon will do the cookin' fer ya'.

kernal 7 years, 10 months ago

redevelop that whole area for family and teen entertainment: roller rink for the winter, miniature golf for the warmer months, a family type restaurant and some type of ice cream business/parlor, etc., all in close proximity. And maybe a skate boarding park? Ask the kids what they would like to see go in there.

bearded_gnome 7 years, 10 months ago

what should go in there: a high-tech multilevel chess tournament center, running 24/7, with concessions, lasars, hooters like waitresses dressed like chess pieces ... oh whu ... wait no!

seriously, I think more fast food outlets, cuz' lawrence just doesn't have enough. it could be all fast food! if you want fast food, you go there, Orange Julius, Der Wienerschnitzel [sp?], popeye's chicken, church's chicken, gotta have MCDs/BK/Wendy's, move the sonic in north lawrence there, even get a Pea Soup Anderson's since it's on the interstate. put in Tippen's pies. put Runza there. of course pizzas and mex food.
being on the intertate, you'd get people.
then, all that waste grease could be burned in the cars of Lawrence's greenies.

I think Merrill would say that makes "dollars and sense" in his very tired and worn cliche.
heck, he could do the nude gardening for the place, too. that would really help the touristas from I70 remember Lawrence.
and get this Merrill could sell tatoo space on his body for ads! wow, even more "dollars and sense!!!"

pizzapete 7 years, 10 months ago

Sam's Club or maybe some other wholesale type store.

Liberty275 7 years, 10 months ago

Let it rot like the rest of this hayseed town.

kernal 7 years, 10 months ago

Liberty 275, do you need a map to find your way out of Lawrence?

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