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Developer pursuing idea for East Lawrence bistro in Warehouse Arts District


Maybe it will be called the Black Powder Bistro.

As we briefly reported several weeks ago, the idea for a bistro in East Lawrence's Warehouse Arts District is gaining steam. Arts district developer Tony Krsnich has a request before city commissioners tonight to rezone a late 1800s stone building near Eighth and Pennsylvania streets to allow for a bistro, bar and eatery.

The old building, which is just west of Krsnich's Poehler Lofts apartment building, served in the early 1900s as a warehouse for ammunition and gunpowder sold by the Poehler Mercantile Co. Poehler officials didn't want all the ammunition stored in their fine four-story warehouse, which now houses the lofts.

Thus, my idea for Black Powder Bistro. I suppose you could go with Powder Keg Bistro as well, but Krsnich already is trying to convince neighbors that this establishment won't be the wild and rowdy type. Krsnich does want to serve beer and cocktails at the establishment, but he also wants to serve scones and cold sandwiches and have a laid-back patio atmosphere, perhaps even featuring a wood-fired Argentine grill that will serves brats and other grilled items.

Krsnich says he's pursuing the idea because he gets multiple requests a week from people wanting some type of eating or drinking option in the arts district, which is now home to the Cider Gallery arts and event space that is drawing in aficionados from the Kansas City area. He's said several residents in the Poehler Lofts building also have wanted an establishment where they can get a meal or a drink without having to get in their vehicles to travel somewhere.

The idea, though, has drawn some opposition from the East Lawrence neighborhood. The proposed zoning for the site would allow for a traditional bar to be established at the location. City planners have suggested several conditions to try to alleviate bar-related concerns at the site. One is the idea that 55 percent of the business' revenues would have to come from the sale of food or nonalcoholic beverages. That's the requirement that new drinking establishments in downtown Lawrence have to meet.

Krsnich, though, has asked planners to give the establishment two years to meet that level of food sales instead of the standard one year. The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission is recommending that two-year period.

There's been some indication those conditions will satisfy neighbors, but we'll know more tonight.

As far as a timeline, Krsnich wants to get the necessary zoning approval and then start searching for an operator of the establishment. He hopes to have the business open sometime next spring.

As far as the name goes, the business doesn't have one yet. Krsnich said he plans to have some sort of community competition to name the establishment — thus my suggestion. He didn't mention a $10,000 prize to the winner, but I thought I would get a head start just in case.


Although it wouldn't be a good name, this project really is Small Potatoes compared with the other project Krsnich has going on in the neighborhood. As we previously have reported, Krsnich is working to build an entirely new four-story building at Ninth and Delaware streets to house another set of loft apartments.

This project, which would be at the southeast corner of Ninth and Delaware streets, would have a mix of 43 one-bedroom, two bedroom and three-bedroom loft style apartments. Like the nearby Poehler building, it would use state tax credits for part of its financing, which would commit the project to making a majority of the units rent-controlled apartments.

There's not much new to report on the project, other than it is sailing through the development process thus far. The rezoning of the property is up for approval at tonight's City Commission meeting. It comes to commissioners with a positive 10-0 recommendation from the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission.

Probably the next thing to watch for will be the design of this new four-story building. Lawrence builders sometimes have a tendency to build large new buildings to look like old buildings. Krsnich said that is not his intention with this project.

"I want this to look completely different from the Poehler building to show off a lot of modern and contemporary architecture," Krsnich said.

Once I get my hands on some renderings of the project, I'll pass them along. Krsnich has hired Kansas City, Mo.-based Rosemann & Associates to design the building.

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  • Comments

    Keith Richards 4 years, 8 months ago

    East Lawrence neighbors opposed to development, in a semi-industrial area no less? Who would have guessed?

    Bob Forer 4 years, 8 months ago

    They are not opposed to development per se. Just to a bar. How would you like a bar in your neighborhood.

    Bob Forer 4 years, 8 months ago

    You obviously have a nasty contempt for folks who live on the east side of town. That's your business if you want to be nasty, but take some advice and stay out of other peoples' business. Otherwise, you cause yourself to look foolish, bitter, supercilious and very un-Kansan like.

    chootspa 4 years, 8 months ago

    Having lived down the road from both a bar and an "industrial area," I can tell you I'd rather have the industrial area. An industrial area stops making noise at night and doesn't puke on your lawn.

    Cindy Wallace 4 years, 8 months ago

    I believe there is and has been a bar/eating establishment in the neighborhood for many, many years; right on the corner of 9th & Pennsylvania?

    myop 4 years, 8 months ago

    I am an east Lawrence neighbor, and I love all of the ideas being discussed and explored by Krsnich. It's good for the neighborhood and our side of the city! Can't wait to eat, drink and patron at neighborhood businesses.

    Frank A Janzen 4 years, 8 months ago

    "He's said several residents in the Poehler Lofts building also have wanted an establishment where they can get a meal or a drink without having to get in their vehicles to travel somewhere." GIVE ME A BREAK. Here's a place to eat and drink LESS THAN A BLOCK from the Poehler Lofts. Charlie's East-side Bar and Burger Joint, 900 Pennsylvania St (at 9th). Patronize your local eatery. (in Lawrence, KS 66044, Phone(785) 842-5839)

    asixbury 4 years, 8 months ago

    They need to remodel the front of the building. I've been by that place many times and always thought it was a closed, former-bar...looks like it from the outside.

    deec 4 years, 8 months ago

    And it's all of 7 blocks to Mass. street, which has just oodles of eating establishments.

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