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Menards says plans for Lawrence store still on track, but no date for construction announced
Maybe Menards has gotten busy plowing a garden, building a potpourri room or connecting a back-up generator to the chocolate fountain. I know those are all projects that have caused me delay in completing the real work I would like to get done around the house. So, maybe that's why work hasn't yet started on a new Menards store near 31st and Iowa streets.
Whatever the case, construction work hasn't started and doesn't appear likely to start in the next few weeks. But a Menards official told me in recent days the store project is still moving forward, and I tend to believe him because Menards has actually purchased all the property needed for the development. If there were a chance they weren't going to build the store, I think it would be more likely they simply would have the ground under option to purchase.
But I don't have a good explanation on why it is taking this much time to get the project started. As a reminder, Menards won its zoning approval from the City Commission in June. At that point, the project just became a matter of a few technical approvals before a building permit could be issued.
"Nothing is changing," said Tyler Edwards, the Menards official who has been securing the approvals for the Lawrence project. "We're just getting through all the little technical details."
A planning department official told me that is the case. The department is waiting to receive the public improvement plans for the project. Those are the plans that show the designs and other technical specifications of streets, utility lines, storm sewers and other pieces of infrastructure. I've been told by city officials that there are no big challenges that Menards faces with those plans. Rather, the city simply is waiting to receive them so that they can be reviewed. In other words, I don't think it is the city that is holding this project up.
That being said, it will take a little bit of time for city officials to review the necessary plans before a building permit can be issued. These things vary, but it easily could take four weeks from the time the plans are received to the time they are reviewed and approved by the various departments. So those of you, like me, who thought Menards would surely want to get started this spring, may be wrong.
I couldn't get Edwards to offer a date — or a season — when construction is likely to begin on the project. (He, too, evidently has read the essential guide for married handymen, "I'll $%!# Get to It, Dear." Rule No. 3: Never, ever, ever commit to a date. If you are pressured, immediately begin talking about an idea you have to remove a wall, and that usually will result in a subject change.)
Edwards previously has said the store likely will take nine to 10 months to build. One would think Menards would want to be open by next spring to take advantage of all the home improvement purchases that happen during that season. If so, it would seem construction would need to start in the next two to three months. But, as I've been told on many a home improvement project, I should leave the thinking to someone else.
If you remember, the last news we reported on the project was that the design of the store had been changed. Most significantly, Menards changed the location of its outdoor lumberyard and reduced it size from 90,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet. The speculation is that was done to allow for more room for other retailers on the development site. In addition to Menards, there is room for about a half dozen other buildings. But the reduction in lumberyard space has caused some to worry that Menards has decided to put in a scaled-down store in Lawrence. But Edwards insisted that wasn't the case, although I didn't get any details about why Menards decided to make the changes.
"It will be a 100 percent normal Menards," Edwards said.
In other news and notes from around town:
• Lawrence Memorial Hospital has landed on another best-of list. This time the financial healthcare website NerdWallet Health has ranked LMH as the third-most affordable hospital in the state of Kansas. The website says it ranked 54 Kansas hospitals based the 100 most common procedures performed at hospitals. It got its cost information from CMS Medicare Provider Charge Data.
The results found that Galichia Heart Hospital in Wichita was ranked No. 1 in affordability, while Topeka's St. Francis Health Center was ranked No. 2. LMH was No. 3. In terms of other area hospitals in the Top 10, Olathe Medical Center was No. 7 and Shawnee Mission Medical Center was No. 10.