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City receives seven proposed sites for police headquarters building
City officials have received seven proposals from property owners wanting to house a proposed multimillion dollar police headquarters, and several of them are in the city's emerging commercial districts.
Here's a quick look at the seven sites that were proposed to the city earlier this week and just made public moments ago:
• A portion of the Mercato commercial development at the northeast corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway. The ground is part of the commercial development immediately south of the Rock Chalk Park Sports complex that is under construction. A group led by Lawrence businessmen Steve Schwada and Tim Fritzel submitted the proposal to the city. The proposal did not include an asking price for the property.
• The northwest corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway: This is the site that originally was considered for the city's new recreation center, but now is planned for commercial development. It is owned by a group led by Lawrence developers Duane and Steve Schwada. The proposal doesn't include an asking price for the property.
• About 18 acres of vacant ground at the southeast corner of Sixth Street and George Williams Way. The site is basically catty-corner from the Mercato development and the Rock Chalk Park sports complex. It is being marketed by commercial real estate agent Kelvin Heck, and has an asking price of $1.76 million.
• The Fairfield farms development, which is the commercial property at 23rd and O'Connell Road that is home to the Tractor Supply store. A group led by Lawrence businessman Bill Newsome has proposed two possible sites in the development. One is just west of the current Tractor Supply store. The other is at the corner East 25th Terrace and Franklin Road, which is just west of the Douglas County Jail. Both sites can be configured to be between 13 acres to 15 acres in size. The site closest to the jail has an asking price of $29,820 per acre. The site closest to the Tractor Supply has an asking price of $53,950 per acre.
• Ten to 50 acres of vacant property south of 31st Street and west of Louisiana Street. The property currently is being marketed by local real estate agent Mickey Stremel. It has an asking price of $37,000 per acre.
• Five acres of vacant ground at the northeast corner of Wakarusa Drive and Clinton Parkway. It is being offered by Lawrence businessman Timothy Schmidt. It has an asking price of $1.695 million.
• A portion of the former Riverfront Mall in downtown Lawrence at Sixth and New Hampshire streets. A group led by members of the Simons family — which own LJWorld.com and the Journal-World — are offering about 50,000 square feet of space in the existing building with room to build about 45,000 square feet of additional space on the site. The city anticipates it will need about 85,000 square feet of space for its immediate needs. The asking price on the property is $3 million.
City Manager David Corliss told me his staff will now start reviewing the submitted sites, but also will start its own search out in the community for locations. That will include a review of property already owned by the city: Look for a portion of the former Farmland Industries site to be seriously considered. Corliss said his staff also are likely to approach private property owners who didn't submit a proposal to gauge their interest in selling property.
Corliss said he hopes to have a site recommendation to city commissioners in early 2014. Then the really hard work begins. City commissioners will have to decide whether now is the right time to build a police facility and, if it is, how they would fund it. Early estimates have pegged the cost of a new headquarters at more than $20 million.
Check back later for a more complete report.