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Hurst Diamonds moving to 23rd Street; study predicts big gains in household income for Lawrence residents


Perhaps this past weekend has caused you to enter the market for a piece of diamond jewelry. Perhaps it is because you’ve found the love of your life and are about to become engaged. Or perhaps it is because you are already married to the love of your life, and your Saturday night decision to build a whole-hog smoking pit in the kitchen — complete with BBQ sauce buffet— wasn’t as well received as you had hoped. Either way, a diamond may be in order. (Perhaps a really large one, I have found.)

Well, there’s news on the diamond front in Lawrence. Perhaps you saw some fellow out this weekend with signs about the imminent closing of Hurst Fine Diamonds at the Pine Ridge Plaza on south Iowa Street. But as we previously have reported, Hurst isn’t closing for good. We earlier reported the store was moving to an undisclosed location. Now, we have more information. The store’s ownership group has confirmed that it is moving to 520 W. 23rd St., in the strip center that houses Panera Bread. Hurst is taking the spot formerly occupied by AT&T Wireless, which moved to 33rd and Iowa streets.

“We feel that spot on 23rd Street is going to be a better location or us,” said Mike Hurst, an owner of the store. “There is more street visibility for us there.”

The company has been in Lawrence for the past 13 years, but overall, the company has been in business for 106 years, all of them with ownership by the Hurst family. The company started in downtown Kansas City, and Hurst said having a location in the eastern half of Lawrence is appealing because a good amount of the store’s business still comes from the Kansas City market. In addition to Lawrence, the company also operates a store in Columbia, Mo.

“We have people in Kansas City who shopped with my grandfather and father, and now with me and my son,” Hurst said.

Hurst said the exact timing of the move to 23rd Street is still uncertain, but it will be before Sept. 30. When the store does move, it will have a slightly different name. The name will change from Hurst Fine Diamonds to Hurst Diamonds. No, the diamonds won’t be any less fine. The name change is being made to match the name of the store to the store’s website address.

The shopping center on 23rd Street has had some vacant space for a while, but that is about to change. In addition to Hurst, the center is adding a wireless phone repair shop, Phone Medic. In recent months, a Great Clips hair salon/barber shop also has moved into the center. Allison Vance Moore of the Lawrence Colliers International office served as the broker on the deals, and she tells me the center is now fully leased.

In other news and notes from around town:

• Go ahead and buy two diamond tennis bracelets. (My theory is I’m sure I’ll do something else stupid in the near future.) Don’t worry about the money. There is a new report out that says Lawrence residents are poised to become quite a bit wealthier.

A report was released today that projects Lawrence’s median income will grow at the fastest rate in the country between 2013 and 2017. The report was prepared for the United States Conference of Mayors and a couple of other organizations. The study really was focused on the growing wage gap between the top earners in the economy and the bottom earners, but a portion of the report projected future income growth for all the metro areas in the country.

I indeed was surprised when Lawrence showed up at the top of the list with median household income expected to grow at 5.3 percent per year between 2013 and 2017. That’s well above the projected national average of about 3.5 percent per year.

The study doesn’t provide an explanation on why Lawrence’s income levels are expected to rise so rapidly in the coming years. It offers explanations for a few of the top 10 cities. Several are located next to new oil and gas plays, and it notes San Jose, Calif., and Boulder, Colo., are home to several fast growing technology companies. The top 10 cities are projected to be: Lawrence; Ocean City, N.J.; San Jose; Houma-Bayou/Thibadaux, La.; Pascagoula, Miss.; Midland, Texas; Boulder, Colo.; Wheeling, W. Va.; Williamsport, Penn.; Salem, Ore.

But Lawrence bests many of those communities by a full percent or more. I’ve got a call into the study’s authors to see if I can get an explanation. In the meantime, we can all hope that the prediction is correct. If Lawrence’s household incomes grew by more than 5 percent a year, that would be the best economic news the city has received in a long time.

Here’s one way to look at it: If the predictions hold true, Lawrence’s household income would rise from $51,900 today to $76,500 in 2021, the report estimates.

That would make Lawrence one of the higher income cities in the state. For example, Lawrence’s median household income currently is about $3,000 behind that of the Kansas City metro area. But if the report’s predictions hold true, Lawrence’s household income in 2021 would be $6,000 greater than Kansas City’s median household income in 2021. And we would be more than $12,000 ahead of Topeka and Wichita.

As I said, I hope the projections are sound. There has been some recent news, though, that indicates Lawrence has quite a bit of work to do. The Department of Housing and Urban Development each year releases it estimate of median family incomes for all the metro areas and counties of the U.S. From fiscal year 2013 to fiscal year 2014, Lawrence’s median family income actually declined by about 6 percent. Kansas City’s also declined, while Topeka and Wichita’s rose a bit. (Family income and household income are measured differently, but they are close cousins.)

As for how Lawrence fared in the other parts of the study, the city was kind of in the middle of the pack of many other measurements. The one that was kind of interesting was the percentage of households who have income of $100,000 or more versus households that have incomes of $25,000 or less.

Lawrence has 19.3 percent of households that make more than $100,000 per year. It has 28.3 percent that makes $25,000 or less. I don’t really know if that is good or bad, but it is interesting to compare the numbers to some other communities. Lawrence has more $100,000 households than several other communities in the region. Here’s a look:

— Joplin, Mo.: 9.7 percent $100K or above; 33.7 percent $25K or below.

— Kansas City: 22 percent $100K or above; 21.4 percent $25K or below.

— Springfield Mo.: 11.9 percent $100K or above; 28.3 percent $25K or below.

— St. Joseph, Mo.: 12.9 percent $100K or above; 28.8 percent $25K or below.

— Topeka: 15.1 percent $100K or above; 23.8 percent $25K or below

— Wichita: 17.1 percent 100K or above; 24 percent $25K or below.

Lawrence’s status as a university town probably plays a role in the number of households we have below $25,000 in earnings, but Lawrence, at 28.3 percent, seems to be in line or slightly better in that category than several other college communities in the region. Some examples: Ames, Iowa, had 30.6 percent; Bloomington, Ind., 33.6 percent; Columbia, Mo., 29.1 percent; Fort Collins, Colo., 22.6 percent; and Iowa City, 25.3 percent.


Bob Smith 3 years, 6 months ago

"...A report was released today that projects Lawrence’s median income will grow at the fastest rate in the country between 2013 and 2017..." "Dewey beats Truman!"

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 6 months ago

What? Brownback's plan for Kansas isn't going to bring in lots of money and jobs? I thought you believed in him, Bob.

Bob Smith 3 years, 6 months ago

You read way to much into that and misconstrued what I actually said. Better luck next time.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 6 months ago

It's more likely a real estate industry venture that sponsored this study hoping to get another housing boom underway…… you know the type. The last one wrecked the economy and encouraged massive inflation to the point that many still owe more than the market will bear.

Don't believe it till all of us have more money in our hands ……. to stash not pay inflated market values on homes.

Bob Smith 3 years, 6 months ago

Lawrence is too infested with no-growthers, NIMBYs and nattering nabobs of negativism to be the national leader in household income growth.

Sue McDaniel 3 years, 6 months ago

I will believe this when it actually happens. Possibly the middle and lower class will move elsewhere and that would make it look like incomes are up?

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