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Capital City Bank signs deal for west Lawrence location; retirement neighborhood near Rock Chalk Park gaining momentum

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Development prospects in northwest Lawrence are once again heating up.

I have gotten word of two projects to keep an eye on: a new multitenant development at Sixth and Folks Road that will include a bank and a medical office; and a significant step forward for a major retirement and intergenerational neighborhood near Rock Chalk Park near Sixth and the South Lawrence Trafficway.

First, the bank project. Mark Gonzales, president of Capital City Bank's Lawrence operations, confirmed to me that Capital City Bank has signed a deal to locate in a future office building at the southwest corner of Sixth Street and Folks Road.

The bank will be part of a project put together by Lawrence developer Adam Williams, who was the principal behind the development of the new retail building at Sixth and Congressional that houses Papa Murphy's, MeritTrust Credit Union, the Wireless Zone and Prime Martial Arts. Plans call for a 6,500 square-foot building to be constructed on undeveloped land just caddy-corner from the Douglas County Bank location at the intersection. The building will have room for three tenants: Capital City Bank; an undisclosed medical office that is relocating from within Lawrence; and a 2,100 square-foot space that Williams is still seeking to lease.

Gonzales said the bank has been looking for several years for a west Lawrence location to place a full-service bank with a drive-thru. Capital City Bank currently has two locations in Lawrence: On the ground floor of the Hobbs Taylor Lofts building in downtown, and in the Hy-Vee grocery store on West Sixth Street. Gonzales said the bank is still contemplating whether to keep the Hy-Vee location open once the new bank location opens.

Williams said he hopes to break ground later this month, which would allow for the project to be completed by midsummer of 2014. Gonzales said the new location largely is being driven by a desire to offer more convenience, and especially a drive thru, to the bank's west Lawrence customers. Gonzales said Capital City — which also has banks in the Topeka and Overland Park markets — is optimistic about the future growth prospects for northwest Lawrence. But Gonzales said he's not ready to declare that the Lawrence banking market is in full rebound mode at the moment.

"We're still in a stagnant market right now," he said. "There have been a few big projects to lend on, but the smaller projects really haven't picked up yet."

But Gonzales said he thinks the community is primed to grow, if it just gets a catalyst such as a major new employment announcement or some other positive development.

"The good thing is, I think everybody pretty much is singing from the same page right now," he said. "We have been stagnant long enough that almost everybody recognizes we need to grow some as a community now."

As for the remaining space available in the building, Williams said it is zoned for commercial office use. He said that could be almost any type of professional office ranging from attorneys to accountants to insurance agents. He said another medical office use would fit well in the building also. (A bank surrounded by two doctors' offices. Throw in a reference to a certain type of exam, and there is a joke in there somewhere.)

••• What's no joke is that plans are getting more serious on this idea of a Campus Village, which would be a unique retirement/intergenerational neighborhood that would have a strong partnership with Kansas University.

Hugh Carter, an executive with the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, confirmed to me that the nonprofit board for the Campus Village project has agreed to negotiate a development deal with Kansas City-based Lane4 Property Group.

As we previously reported, Lane4 had made a pitch to the board to develop about 60 acres of property just east of Sixth Street and George Williams Way, behind the St. Margaret's Episcopal Church. The site is just south and east of the Rock Chalk Park sports complex. When we reported on Lane4's proposal last month, Carter still labeled the chances of a deal as a bit of a longshot. But the development company last week made a new pitch to the nonprofit board and greatly impressed the leaders of the Campus Village group.

Carter said the board directed longtime Campus Village proponent Dennis Domer, an architect and KU professor, and other university officials to begin negotiations on a development agreement with Lane4.

The development agreement would allow for more concrete plans to be developed for the 60 acres, which some of you may know as the undeveloped Oregon Trail addition that has been owned by local real estate leader John McGrew and others.

But Carter said a concept plan gives a good glimpse at what the development may include: A four or five-story signature building near Sixth and George Williams Way that would house about 180 units of independent living for seniors 55 and up; an approximately 120-unit, nonprofit "community care retirement center" for people who need greater assistance; and a mix of single family homes, townhouses, and apartments that would be open to both retirees and young families.

The big underlying theme of the development is an "intergenerational neighborhood" where people aren't segregated or labeled by their age.

"We're hoping to be the first of what will be a trend," Carter said. "We're hoping to make a national splash."

Adding to the uniqueness of the development would be involvement by Kansas University. The Campus Village board includes several high-level executives from KU. The university has shown an interest in having research space available within the development so various schools and departments could use the neighborhood as a resource in health, aging and sociological research. University leaders have seen other schools do similar research that has landed the schools millions of dollars in grant money.

The university also is interested in having a KU-oriented development that could be marketed to alumni interested in returning to Lawrence. KU officials have watched other schools, like the University of Missouri, have success with that model. (No word yet on whether the as-yet-unnamed KU project will try to copy the Mizzou model, such as: covered parking, complete with cement blocks for propping up your motorized buggies; comfortable tree stumps for banjo picking and moonshine sipping; and recreation classes consisting of remedial basketball lessons. I'm guessing the KU project may go in a different direction.)

At the moment, Carter said KU is not being asked to help finance the construction of the project. Developers are planning for the project to be a private one from a financial standpoint, but would like KU assistance in marketing the facility to KU alumni. At the moment, there aren't plans to ask city and county government to provide taxpayer financing for the project either. But it will be worth watching to see if the project eventually seeks some other types of incentives, such as industrial revenue bonds.

But, of course, all this is still tentative until a development agreement is signed among all the parties. That could take another 60 days or so, depending on how quickly it works its way through the university process, Carter said. I hope to sit down with some of the principals of the proposed project in coming weeks to get more details.

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  • Comments

    deec 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    Of COURSE they'll ask for taxpayer subsidies.

    There are already intergenerational neighborhoods in Lawrence...East Lawrence, North Lawrence, Old West Lawrence....

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    blindrabbit 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    deec: Rather than the progress you seem to deplore; how about Overbrook, Linwood or better yet Brownies hometown of Parker as maybe more in line your idea of ideal.

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    deec 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    Ah, the old love it or leave it argument. Always persuasive.

    You know, when the Rock Chalk fiasco was first proposed, I was heavily castigated for being negative. Sure 'nuf, it is a big scam on you folks in Lawrence. Why does every major project, public or private, ultimately cost the taxpayers loads of money? Riverfront an Tanger Malls, the Vermont St. parking garage...er...Library. The school classroom improvement bonds that somehow morph into showcase football stadiums, etc.?

    Incidentally, I live in a small town in Nebraska with about 1100 people. It's pretty cool living in an actual multi-generational community. There are many such neighborhoods in Lawrence. I prefer real, as opposed to artificially-constructed, neighborhoods. But then I've never been a beige-toned suburban wasteland sort.

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    Sue Grosdidier 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    Unlike other projects, Rock Chalk was NOT a choice of the public. I think that is the issue here and the inequality of a few that continue to get projects approved looks very fishy. Those of us that have lived here for many years have also seen very large jumps in our taxes. If it continues we will eventually out price ourselves with the multi-generational citizens because they will not be able to afford to live here. Lawrence is a wonderful place to live but at some point spending has got to cease on special projects.

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    gatekeeper 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    Funny, because my relatives that are in banking are super busy. Lots of loans being done. Just heard on NPR the other day that the best job growth and best stable jobs are in the financial industry. CCB must not offer good rates. Probably hard to get loan customers to take them serious when they have to go to HyVee to do business.

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    blindrabbit 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    CCB probably still trying to clean up the stink left by Odell Weidner !!, Douglas Lake, and David Wittig (Kansas wonder boy and "gutter" of Westar) in the "Enron of Kansas" scheme.

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    angelalovesart 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    with the suggestion of our realtor we obtained our mortgage through Capital City Bank and before we knew it, it was sold to Wells Fargo. I guess we might have seen that possibility in the fine print, but still annoyed because we tried to support a small bank.

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    gatekeeper 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    Most small banks will sell mortgages within the first 6 months of closing. Small, local banks don't want to carry them long term, just make the money off the origination. This is very common. You did support a small bank (could have been a better one), but they don't want to carry the long-term burden of the loan (and possible foreclosure).

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    Richard Heckler 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    It was major players in the financial industry that took down the nations economy. The economy has a problem nation wide because 20 million are still out of work. Yes I blame the financial industry and the Bush administration for placing the economy is such a disaster.

    The USA financial industry sold off tons of bad mortgage deals to banks in other countries thus taking down the world economy. The bad mortgages were sold off in "bundles" if you will.There is plenty of documentation around. Fraudulent management is my choice of words.

    Lawrence needs another bank like it needs another westside grocery store like it needs more vacant apartment complexes like it needs another retail strip mall. I say the reckless distribution of loan money is identical to the situation that ultimately brought down the economy under the watch of republicans twice.

    This money is not producing long term employment nor new long term industry that will produce hundreds upon hundreds of jobs at $75,000 per year. What is taking place in Lawrence is attempting to steal jobs from other communities rather than come up with new industry that does not leave an existing community with new unemployed.

    This GOP ENTITLEMENT - Bailing out The Reagan/Bush Savings and Loan Heist aka home loan scandal sent the economy out the window costing taxpayers many many billions and millions of jobs, loss of retirement plans and loss of medical insurance. http://rationalrevolution0.tripod.com/war/bush_family_and_the_s.htm

    --- This GOP ENTITLEMENT Bailing out the Bush/Cheney Home Loan Wall Street Bank Fraud cost consumers $ trillions, millions of jobs, loss of retirement plans and loss of medical insurance. Exactly like the Reagan/Bush home loan scam. Déjà vu can we say. Yep seems to be a pattern. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/0709macewan.html

    --- This GOP ENTITLEMENT - Bush/Cheney implied many financial institutions were at risk instead of only 3? One of the biggest lies perpetrated to American citizens. Where did this money go? Why were some banks forced to take bail out money? http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/10/good_billions_after_bad_one_year

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    Richard Heckler 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    Lawrence needs another new vacant retirement community on the westside?

    If new residential growth paid for itself and was financially positive, we would never be asked to accept increased taxes and user fees that has happened way to often over the past 30 years of residential expansion.

    But with increased numbers of residential projects Lawrence, Kansas increases demands on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by new residential projects does not cover the cost of services they require from a municipality. In a way new residential projects are back door tax increases.

    In Lawrence,Kansas the more new retail development the more potential sales revenue that gets stolen from existing retail thus the smaller the pie gets for the entire retail market. This is know as economic displacement NOT economic growth. Lawrence is experiencing no exciting new population growth and KU student growth is shrinking.

    Middle class jobs are disappearing and middle class incomes are shrinking. Republicans are busy trying to kill Social Security Insurance and Medicare Insurance. The Koch boys,ALEC and Sam Brownback represent this thinking. And they don't like public education or higher education.

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    Richard Heckler 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    One more thing. There is also a movement encouraging seniors to live in their homes because it is among the most fiscally responsible approaches. And people would rather live in their homes. Once in home services are set and landscape maintenance is in place this staying at home situation can be accomplished.

    As see all know there are services readily available in Lawrence for those who wish to stay in their homes.

    Where did anyone get the idea that baby boomers want to become inactive?

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    Alceste 10 months, 2 weeks ago

    "A four or five-story signature building near Sixth and George Williams Way that would house about 180 units of independent living for seniors 55 and up; an approximately 120-unit, nonprofit "community care retirement center" for people who need greater assistance; and a mix of single family homes, townhouses, and apartments that would be open to both retirees and young families."

    Dandy. What is the price point on one of the 180 units for "...seniors 55 and up...."? What is the price point on the "....approximately 120-unit, nonprofit "community care retirement center" for people who need greater assistance...."? What is the average asking price for the "....mix of single family homes, townhouses......" And, what is the average monthly rental cost for the apartments?

    The answer to those questions will add a lot to just what "diversity" means and will, finally, "flush out" the thoughts of many about town that this silliness of making Lawrence a "senior mecca" is aimed at the wealthy senior.....and not those living on under $18,000.00 per year.

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