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Compton-led group set to take over Abe & Jake's building in downtown Lawrence


Well, Mike Elwell wasn’t bluffing when he said he had somebody besides the city of Lawrence interested in the unique Abe & Jake’s Landing building along the Kansas River.

It looks like one of downtown’s more prominent land owners and a downtown nightclub operator soon will have control of the Abe & Jake’s building.

Lawrence city commissioners are being asked to transfer a long-term lease for the building from Elwell to an entity led by Lawrence businessman Doug Compton and Mike Logan, who is the operator of The Granada in downtown Lawrence.

In case you have forgotten, the city of Lawrence actually owns the late-19th-century industrial building, which is sometimes called the Barbed Wire Building because it once housed a barbed wire manufacturing company. But Elwell essentially controls the building because he was granted a long-term, low-cost lease by the city in 1999 to use the building in exchange for him investing about $2 million to refurbish what had become an eyesore.

Elwell has made no secret that he has been looking to get out of the building, which is just east of Lawrence City Hall. As we previously reported, the city was in discussions to take over the building and use it for office space for the city’s Planning and Development Services Department. Those talks fell through, and Elwell told me at the time he had someone else very interested in the building.

Now we’ll see what Compton and Logan plan to do with the building. In a letter to City Hall, the duo indicated that the building would be a complement to the Marriott Extended Stay Hotel, which is a Compton-led project being constructed at Ninth and New Hampshire streets.

“One of our goals is to work together and allow Abe & Jake’s to operate as a venue for weddings, banquets, etc.,” the two wrote in the letter.

That’s essentially how the building is being used now. Elwell previously operated a full-fledged nightclub in the building, but he has since pulled back from that business plan. I chatted this morning with Compton, and he said there are no plans to use the facility as a traditional nightclub. He said under Elwell the building already was being rented out for private functions nearly 50 times a year, and he thinks that number will increase when the marketing forces of the Marriott hotel are added to the mix.

“We feel like it will give us banquet facility space we would not have in the hotel,” Compton said. “It is a beautiful building and has a beautiful setting. It really just continues our interest and commitment in downtown.”

Compton, who owns a multitude of properties downtown, is in the midst of a large building effort. He recently completed the 901 Building, a multi-story apartment and office building at the southwest corner of Ninth and New Hampshire. He told me this morning he hopes construction work will begin in January on the Marriott project on the southeast corner of that intersection. Work is scheduled to begin in May on another multi-story apartment and office building on the northeast corner.

Logan will be the manager of the new Abe & Jake’s operation. Compton and Logan already work together. Compton is the landlord for Logan’s business at The Granada. Logan is one of the more successful concert promoters in downtown Lawrence, so it will be interesting to see if he has plans to use the building — which has extensive views of the Kansas River and tall 50 foot ceilings — as a music venue. I’ve got a call into him and will report back.

As for terms of the deal between Compton’s group and Elwell, they haven’t been released. The terms of the lease with the city, however, are expected to stay the same. Essentially, the lease calls for the tenant of the building to pay $4,800 per year related to use of the city-owned parking garage that is adjacent to the building. The tenant also is responsible for all property taxes, insurance and utilities.

The lease has a series of automatic renewals that could allow Compton and Logan to control the property into 2087, according to the lease. The terms of the city's lease with Elwell essentially gave Elwell the right to sell his interests in the lease to another party.

City commissioners will discuss the proposed transfer at their 6:35 p.m. meeting on Tuesday night at City Hall.


consumer1 5 years, 5 months ago

I would like to know the history of the Barb wire company? Did it play a major role in the fencing of the west?

Chad Lawhorn 5 years, 5 months ago

Here's the thumbnail version as I understand it. The Consolidated Barbed Wire Company was the largest private employer in the state of Kansas near the turn of the century. I've heard historians describe it as the Boeing of its day. I believe it was a 24/7 production facility. Then a funny thing happened in the U.S. steel industry. A giant by the name of U.S. Steel was formed and the Lawrence factory was told it would get no more steel unless it sold its operations to U.S. Steel. So, it did. U.S. Steel used up the inventory at the Lawrence plant, and when that was gone, so was the plant. At least that is how it has been told to me in the limited research I have done. An interesting piece of Lawrence history though. Thanks, Chad

Keith 5 years, 5 months ago

" Logan is one of the more successful concert promoters in downtown Lawrence, so it will be interesting to see if he has plans to use the building — which has extensive views of the Kansas River and tall 50 foot ceilings — as a music venue. I’ve got a call into him and will report back. "

If so, they've got a lot of work to do, the acoustics in that place are horrible for music.

gccs14r 5 years, 5 months ago

So at this point is it easier to list the parts of Lawrence that Compton doesn't own? Is he going to change the name of the city to Comptonville?

patkindle 5 years, 5 months ago

this shouldnt be any suprise, the place as been on the market for years no one else stepped up to the plate, like everything else....... haters hate

MarcoPogo 5 years, 5 months ago

You forgot to mention that it's only "pennies a day".

irvan moore 5 years, 5 months ago

that's an interesting question, i'd like to see the answer to that too

jack22 5 years, 5 months ago

The same way someone can build an 18 million dollar high rise hotel in this town and pay the same taxes for 20 years that they'd pay if the property were still a vacant lot.

flyin_squirrel 5 years, 5 months ago

Because it is only worth what someone will pay for it.

gccs14r 5 years, 5 months ago

If that were true, lots of people in this town would have lower property tax bills.

msezdsit 5 years, 5 months ago

Right now, it seems we have a puppet city commission that answers to any of comptons whims, but just wait, eventually the city commision will be the board of directors at first management. You know, kinda like a game of monopoly. Compton is well on his way of owning the majority rule downtown. Fritzels will be the only ones who can stand in his way.

Linda Aikins 5 years, 5 months ago

I for one am glad Doug and Mike are taking it over. That and the Masons building that no one wanted will continue to be used. Both are really neat buildings that I hated to see sit empty and fall into disrepair.

MartyT 5 years, 5 months ago

This reply from LarryNative is so illogical I don't know why I'm even bothering to respond to it.

But for the sake of everyone else reading this discussion, please note: more middle and upper income people in this country identify as Democrat, not Republican. So...your argument that liberals are "broke" is flat wrong.


MartyT 5 years, 5 months ago

So...Democrats aren't "liberal". Sure.

In any event, why don't you actually address the issue? You deleted your original comment. Do you always delete your comments when someone calls you out?

WilburM 5 years, 5 months ago

Maybe. But he is also chaning the nature of the Lawrence downtown with his "going up" philosophy. Far better than the Fritzells, ot tell the truth.

msezdsit 5 years, 5 months ago

Aah, be careful what you wish for, you might regret it.

John Lomas 5 years, 5 months ago

Most "modern" sound-men don't know how to mix anything anyways.......(all bass and drums)........however I have played there with a knowledgeable sound tech and it can sound good.

blindrabbit 5 years, 5 months ago

Gripe, complain, deride, bellyache, fuss, bleat, squawk, yammer, grouch, grumble, bitch-----all part of the LAWRENCE tradition.

webmocker 5 years, 5 months ago

oneeye_wilbur 0 minutes ago

How does this work for property taxes on the building? Who pays them, how much, and what is the current valuation? I don't expect the JW to delve that deep!

Try reading the article. "The tenant also is responsible for all property taxes, insurance and utilities."

irvan moore 5 years, 5 months ago

it would have been nice if the city worked out a deal with mike and got the lease back so they could have controlled the building, of course, if doug had his eye on it the commission wouldn't have wanted to get in his way

patkindle 5 years, 5 months ago

it always amumes me that folks who live in thier parents basements, because no one will hire them worry so much about what others do with their money and what taxes they pay

deec 5 years, 5 months ago

Except a lot of their money is actually your money, as in local and federal tax money. I'll bet you didn't know old Dougie s a farmer.

Douglas J Compton   Lawrence, KS 66044  $ 288,988.83


Bob Forer 5 years, 5 months ago

"folks who live in their parents basements"

Pat, let me give you a little advice. You have overused this insult. Please come up with a new one. Reading it again and again is annoying to us, and embarrassing for you. . .

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