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New $16M water plant project buying more land; signs of change at Naismith Hall student dorms; and other property sales for the week


Another week and another set of property sales and land transfers to review.

This week, water and student housing (I don’t recall that being the most popular beverage in student housing, by the way) are subjects that stand out from the list of recent sales.

Before we get to that, though, my standard disclaimer: Unless otherwise noted, most of this information is just me relaying information from various public documents from the Douglas County Courthouse and the Kansas Secretary of State’s office. In an effort to be timely, it is not always possible to contact everyone involved. It is not always easy to ascertain what is going on with a property just by looking at the documents, so I would read these listings as a first draft of activity in the local real estate market.

• First, the water: Public Wholesale Water Supply District No. 25 has signed another deal to purchase property for a new water treatment plant between Lawrence and Eudora.

The most recent deal — the largest yet for the district — is for about 25 acres of land near the Kansas River just north of the intersection of North 1500 and East 1750 roads. North 1500 Road is what East 15th Street turns into in the county, and East 1750 Road also is Noria Road.

If you remember, Public Wholesale Water Supply District No. 25 is a fairly new entity that has been formed to provided treated water to other rural water districts, and perhaps entities such as cities, in the future.

Currently, the city of Lawrence is the largest provider of treated water for water districts in the area. The idea for the wholesale district has evolved over the years, in part, because there has been some uneasiness about the terms the city has dictated for its water treatment services.

There’s always been some question, though, whether this new wholesale water district really could get off the ground. But as we reported in May, the project received its financing from the USDA, and the district made its first small land purchase this summer.

This most recent purchase is more substantial. Larry Wray, the leader for the wholesale water district, told me the 25 acres is where the actual treatment plant and well field will be. The district will take its water from wells that are recharged by the nearby Kansas River.

The land purchase is the most visible sign yet that the district is moving full steam ahead with the project. “We’re pretty much at the point where we are saying we are going to build this,” Wray said. “I’m not saying something silly can’t happen to derail it, but we wouldn’t have bought the land if we weren’t going to do this.”

A water plant won’t pop up over night at the site. Wray said there is at least another year’s worth of design. He believes it will be three to four years before a water plant is operational.

That’s in part because construction will be substantial. The two water districts that have signed up for the wholesale district so far are Douglas County Rural Water District No. 5, which serves parts of southern and western Douglas County, and Osage County Rural Water District No. 5. I’ve previously reported the project will involve laying about 30 miles of pipe across the countryside The district will start acquiring easements for that pipeline this year, Wray said.

Wray is estimating the project will have about a $16 million price tag.

What remains to be seen is how substantial the project will be in terms of impacting the city of Lawrence’s business as a wholesale water supplier. The city sells lots of water to rural water districts, and theoretically those sales help hold down the costs the city has to charge to Lawrence water customers.

A few months ago, the city was at risk of losing its largest wholesale water customer, the city of Baldwin City. But a new contract has solidified that relationship. The agreement now limits how much Lawrence can increase the price it charges to Baldwin City.

• Now, student housing: It appears that Naismith Hall, the private student-housing complex at 19th Street and Naismith Drive has sold.

The property transfers show New York-based Bromley Naismith LLC has purchased the property from Miami Beach-based LBUBS 2003-C5 Naismith Drive LLC. (Try saying that when you answer the office phone everyday.)

Bromley Naismith appears to be an entity of Bromley Companies, a large real estate and development company headquartered on Fifth Avenue in New York, according to its Web site. The company for the last 40 years has been involved in private student housing complexes, and touts itself as having the second largest portfolio of “privately held residence halls” in the U.S.

I put a call into Naismith Hall, but a manager wasn’t available to talk. So, I don’t know what, if any, changes may be on the horizon for the property. It looks like the company runs its own food services company to provide dining hall service to all its dormitory properties. According to the company’s Web site, it has about 3,500 residence hall beds at public universities including the University of Illinois, Texas Tech, Ohio University and Northern Illinois.

As for other Lawrence and Douglas County property sales for the week, click here to see the complete list for the week ending Jan. 14.


TheAustrian 5 years, 4 months ago

I wonder how this new water treatment facility will be impacted by the proposed open sand pit right next door (~ 1.5 miles away) ? The City of Eudora and some Geologists are concerned with the impact it will have on Eudora's wells and they are quite a bit further away.

Chad Any official thoughts on this? Has Public Wholesale Water Supply District No. 25 weighed in on this issue?

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