LJWorld.com weblogs Town Talk

As Briggs prepares to move out of Sears building, rumors heat up that Dick's Sporting Goods will be moving in


Here’s what we know: The folks at Briggs Auto Group soon will be vacating the former Sears building at 27th and Iowa streets.

Here’s what’s likely to happen: A whole bunch of speculation that Dick’s Sporting Goods will move into the prime piece of South Iowa Street property.

Rumors of a Dick’s Sporting Goods coming to town are nothing new, but there does seem to be quite a bit of smoke with this particular batch of rumors. And you know what they say: Where there is smoke, there’s usually a kid with a half-dozen Roman candles in each hand and a package of Black Cats in his back pocket. (Actually, maybe they only say that in my neighborhood, although no one would hear it.)

The point is, there may be something to the speculation this time. Mike Neyman, general manager for Briggs Nissan, said the landlord for the Sears building has notified the auto dealership that it will need to vacate the premises by the end of the month because a new deal for the building is being processed.

Neyman said the timeline shouldn’t create a problem for Briggs, because the Nissan dealership already has moved into its new facility in the nearby Lawrence Auto Plaza, and work on the Dodge dealership is expected to be done by the end of the month. (More on Briggs’ developments in a moment.)

Multiple sources in the real estate and development industries tell me that a deal has been struck by an investment group to buy the approximately 90,000-square-foot Sears building. The same sources say that the group has a major national anchor tenant committed to the building. The strong speculation is that it's Dick’s, because the company has been scouting for locations in the city.

“Dick’s is the player here,” one source said.

The chain Hibbett Sports also has shown interest in Lawrence over the years, but it is seen as a less likely option at this location because it usually locates in far smaller buildings.

But speaking of size, it seems unlikely that Dick’s Sporting Goods would occupy all of the nearly 90,000 square feet of the old Sears building. According to press reports in other markets, store sizes for Dick’s usually are around 45,000 to 60,000 square feet.

Local real estate professionals say what is likely is that the old Sears building would be split into perhaps two or three spaces, meaning that other new retailers may be coming to the market as well.

I know there was a lot of interest in that type of concept shortly after Sears closed its store in 2012. A development group tried to buy the building at that time, with the hopes of attracting both Dick’s and Old Navy to the location. But negotiations with the Los Angeles-based real estate group that owns the property were difficult. Early last year, Old Navy closed its store on South Iowa, which was where Ross Dress for Less is now located. I’m told Old Navy, at the time anyway, still was very much interested in the Lawrence market, but needed a smaller space to accommodate a new strategic direction for the company. Whether it is still interested in the market more than a year later, I don’t know.

Once all the smoke clears, we’ll see.


All this talk of rumors can get in the way of what actually is happening. The folks at the Briggs Auto Group are nearing the end of a multimillion-dollar effort to remake the Lawrence Auto Plaza just north of 31st and Iowa streets.

Briggs Nissan has moved into its new showroom and dealership facility right at the Iowa Street entrance to the Auto Plaza. You might remember the location as the former home of the Jim Clark Dodge/Chrysler dealership.

As we previously have reported, the Nissan dealership includes an all-new 20,000-square-foot showroom building, charging stations for electric vehicles and a reconfigured lot for outdoor car displays.

By the end of the month, Briggs’ Dodge/Chrysler dealership is expected to move into its new location, which is on the western edge of the Auto Plaza, where 29th Terrace and Four Wheel Drive intersect. It is where the Nissan dealership previously was located.

Both of those projects are in addition to the Briggs Subaru dealership, which was completed last year in the Lawrence Auto Plaza. All told, improvements to the Auto Plaza by Briggs probably are near the $4 million mark at this point.

Neyman says the company recently added what it thinks will become a new South Iowa landmark: a new time and temperature sign that he says is the tallest sign in Lawrence. I haven’t seen it yet, so I don’t know exactly how big we’re talking about. But I know that the Briggs folks like the idea of having an aerial structure that draws a lot of attention. As part of the original development plan, Briggs was planning on adding a wind turbine to the Auto Plaza. Neyman said he thinks that is still in the future plans, but I don’t have any word yet on when that may happen.


4 years, 11 months ago

Thanks Chad, I was wondering if the wind turbine was still in the works or not. I do hope they build one! Leslie Soden

JasonJ 4 years, 11 months ago

Moved back to Lawrence almost one year ago from Kansas City. Surprised somewhat with the lack of development on one hand but also happy to see some of the old Lawrence businesses I remember from 10+ years ago. Please don't misunderstand, I have noticed quite a bit of development in certain parts of town. The one area that looks awful is up and down Iowa where certain buildings need to go. Yes, I understand Lawrence doesn't have the population to justify too much commercial development.

I never stopped reading this board over the past couple years. If I'm reading into it correctly, there seems to be issues with city government and their willingness to approve new business and others assuming that new business will harm the local businesses. Others seems to think these so-called low wagel jobs do nothing for the city and will eventually result in more empty buildings littering Lawrence and unemployment.

I understand the economics of business but don't understand this line of thinking. Would Lawrence and some of it's residents rather have the locals travel to Topeka or the KC Metro area and spend their money?

I'm sorry, but Lawrence needs to do everything it can to attract new residential and commercial development. The resistance to downtown development is another issue I don't understand. Again, I'm fully aware of the impending development coming for New Hampshire and would like to see downtown further develop and grow.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

Where are the retail dollars to support never ending retail development?

Who will shop anywhere with any degree of frequency to support a Dick"s sporting goods?

A lot of big box stores stock a lot of the same stuff.

If the city would not support a Sears Store,K-Mart,Eddie Baur,Ann Taylor and a variety of other well known national chains how in the world will Dick's sporting goods survive?

Do large corporations have lots of money to lose? If so Lawrence is the right location.

rtwngr 4 years, 11 months ago

Merrill, you come off as an isolationist in the likeness of Pat Buchanan when it comes to retail development. Most of the times businesses fail because of their business model. Sears and KMart are two examples. Why do Eddie Bauer and Ann Taylor fail when other retail firms like Urban Outfitters and American Eagle survive? Management, retail model, target market, etc. Space does not allow a full explanation but retail development is good in many ways and the free market should be allowed to operate.

Robert Schehrer 4 years, 11 months ago

American Eagle did not survive. It closed a few years ago.

myop 4 years, 11 months ago

While I love the sport specific & local stores like Garry Gribbles Running Store and Francis Sporting Goods, it will be nice to have a large general fitness store to patron as well. Dick's has a variety of sporting and camping items and clothing, shoes, etc. Their staff in stores nationwide are always friendly and knowledgeable.I think this store would be a good fit for the Lawrence community and especially the old Sears building.

joes_donuts 4 years, 11 months ago

By supporting Brigg's Autogroup, a portion of all sales goes to the K-State Catbackers Club. Although a good cause, I prefer to support KU over K-State....

jeffeone 4 years, 11 months ago

This is not an accurate statement. Only vehicles purchased through kansasstatecars.com have a portion donated to the K-State Alumni Fund. Please don't make blanket statements that you have not researched that then can hurt the businesses that employee people like me that live here in Lawrence. If it were not for Briggs, I would have no job.

patkindle 4 years, 11 months ago

Lawrence needs more tennis shoe stores like it needs more hammer stores per menards

oldbaldguy 4 years, 11 months ago

I miss Rusty's. We need a Dick's or something simlar.

LogicMan 4 years, 11 months ago

After Menards (coming soon), the next big store we need is a Costco or Sam's. Either would have worked in the Walmart/Sears building.

julz 4 years, 11 months ago

ELATED! Bring on the long overdue Dick's Sporting Goods! Really surprised we don't have one yet with all the sports tournaments hosted here. Keeping my fingers crossed this deal does indeed include Old Navy. Never realized how much I would miss it. Whenever in KC, I always try to find one for old time's sake. Bringing both of these businesses to Lawrence will sure save me some road trips to the city and keep tax dollars right here!

Scott Morgan 4 years, 11 months ago

Good gravy, Dicks is not a shoe store, but a real sporting goods store including fishing and hunting equipment.

At this time, a city the size of Lawrence can boast the best fishing supply store in town is a small section in the South Walmart. Even Baldwin has a fine little bait and tackle store.

Scott Morgan 4 years, 11 months ago

Check out the fishing section of Dick's in Topeka. If you can find a better staff with more information anywhere please post it. I took a 60 year old closed face fishing reel in a few weeks ago, and they stripped the line and replaced it on the spot in less than 4 minutes.

The charge? A smile and price of the line.

Clinton Laing 4 years, 11 months ago

Yes, ever since WalMart successfully ran Rusty's out of town (and then proceeded to cut their square footage dedicated to sporting goods by 50%) we have been underserved in this area. And the loss of two golf retailers since then has made for even worse access to these goods. I say bring Dick's in ASAP.

Carol Bowen 4 years, 11 months ago

There's always a lot of discussion about what businesses we need and where. Some chains will not invest in a town with a population less than 100 to 150 thousand people. Our major "industry" is KU, so retail is not steady. The choice of whether or not to locate in Lawrence and where is not our choice. Free enterprise still exists.

Note that while chain stores are fine, no on needs to come to Lawrence to shop in them. There's no "pull". Locally owned businesses do have "pull". If competition forces them out of business, what happens to the tourist industry or regional shopping? The only souvenirs you can find now are KU T-shirts. No corn husk dolls, scenes of rolling wheat fields, or sunflower fields. It's hard to find Kansas or Lawrence post cards. We are becoming very generic. While, we cannot dictate what businesses come to Lawrence, there's no need to allow special favors like we did for Home Depot. Does anyone remember the locally owned and smaller lumberyards Lawrence had? The quality was good, they were helpful and knew what they were talking about. No wavy plywood. Home Depot put them out of business.

The city commission gets involved when a business is not using existing commercial zones, they are requesting a tax break, or requesting leniency from the development code (The development code is pretty standard, by the way.) The Exchange complex asked for a variance on dryer vents. CVS did not have a problem building in a commercial zone. The KMart redevelopment did not have a problem. I don't recall reading much about Briggs either.

Jonathan Fox 4 years, 11 months ago

While I agree, it is a delicate balance between keeping local businesses (which I agree should be priority one) and the need to provide businesses in Lawrence since it's so easy to drive to Topeka/KC to go to a Dick's or what have you.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

Lawrence decision makers have settled on a helter skelter jack of all trades development policy and master of none. Zero focus.

I suggest do what Lawrence often receives mention in national chit chat. Lawrence so often is mentioned when Art is the topic. Where Art is an industry there is money. Money and Art = one simple as that.

Lawrence is becoming well known in the cycling competition world. This is good. Where there are cyclists there is money. Cyclists and money = one.

Providing for both industries comes in wayyyyyyyy less than providing lots and lots and lots of retail that cannot accomplish much of anything without too much assistance from we taxpayers. Building a lot of safe cyclist travel comes in wayyyyyyy less money than building streets by a long shot. The cost of one mile of 4 lane road = 250 miles of safe cycling pathways.

Focus on a younger healthier market associated with money. Be smart. Don't be afraid of a green industry such as cycling. Money is a shade of green.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

Quick Facts Nationally, the industry generated $135.2 billion of economic activity—$61.1 billion by the nation's nonprofit arts and culture organizations in addition to $74.1 billion in event-related expenditures by their audiences. This economic activity supports 4.13 million full-time jobs and generates $86.68 billion in resident household income.

Arts and Economic Prosperity = $135.2 billion = 4.13 million full-time jobs http://www.artsusa.org/information_services/research/services/economic_impact/005.asp

Information and Support Services http://www.artsusa.org/information_services/research/reports/default.asp

Economic Impact of the Non Profit Arts and Culture Industry http://www.artsusa.org/information_services/research/services/economic_impact/default.asp

Our industry also generates $22.3 billion in revenue to local, state, and federal governments every year—a yield well beyond their collective $4 billion in arts allocations. Despite the economic headwinds that our country faced in 2010, the results are impressive.

More impressive $$$$ in the economy data. http://www.artsusa.org/information_services/research/services/economic_impact/iv/national.asp

From Arts to Industry: Reviving Downtowns Through Investment in the Arts Joe Petrucci | Thursday, August 20, 2009

From Arts to Industry: Reviving Downtowns Through Investment in the Arts http://www.keystoneedge.com/features/artsstateeconomy0820.aspx

Step back and take a deep breath. Focus and cyclists and the art industry.

A helter skelter jack of all trades development policy and master of none displays zero focus and a lot of lip service. The type of people Lawrence claims to want to attract are neither blind nor stupid means they see through the smoke and screen hovering over Lawrence.

The type of growth Lawrence is engaged in at the moment is attracting the unwanted industry of more crime.

Jeremiah Jefferson 4 years, 11 months ago

finally maybe a decent place in town to buy ammo..

Eugehne Normandin 4 years, 11 months ago

why do I have to answer a question to continue reading this page. Must be time to buy a subscription to read on line JLW

Stephanie Hull 4 years, 11 months ago

Read the article about the LJW expanding its relationship with Google (published yesterday). I have a feeling those surveys are covering a chunk of the cost of our free online access, so I'll definitely be answering them.

irvan moore 4 years, 11 months ago

wow ljw, it's pretty obvious you don't care much about your forum but this question stuff really sucks, maybe you can kill the forum off completely instead of just ignoring it to death

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 4 years, 11 months ago

It will be nice to have a good selection of guns and ammo without driving to Cabela's or Topeka, if Dick's has a store here. Of course that is dependent on whether the liberal local governments allow them to sell guns and ammo.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

If the Free Market is alive and well why does government hand out millions and millions in preferential tax dollar handouts in corporate welfare? Shelling out millions in bribe money IS NOT the Free Market.

Why shouldn't every new project be completely funded by the owners across the board?

Why should Lawrence taxpayers pick up any part of the bill for local developers no matter what the project? Pay their own way across the board.

Some claim IF government will not pay up the bribe money projects will not get built in Lawrence, Kansas. That is absolute nonsense. If the market is right and people want to make money new projects and business owners will locate to Lawrence,Kansas without government assistance. This is the Free Market = complete sustained by the owners.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.