LJWorld.com weblogs Town Talk
Burger King promises it still has plans to reopen on Sixth Street; homeless shelter seeks winter expansion
A scepter just doesn't get you as far in this town as it used to. The King — the Burger King, that is — is finding that out.
I know many of you are wondering whether the Burger King at 1107 W. Sixth St. is ever going to reopen following a fire at the restaurant in August. Back in late February, we reported that the restaurant was expected to reopen in about eight weeks. I don't even have to take off my boots to know that those eight weeks are now up, and there hasn't been any visible sign of remodeling at the location.
But that is not for a lack of want on the King's part, I'm told. Lance Zach, regional manager for Burger King, has once again told me that the company is fully committed to reopening the location, which he said has produced good sales for a number of years.
The delay, however, is that the restaurant hasn't yet been successful in getting a building permit from Lawrence City Hall.
"I think we're getting close, though," Zach said. "My construction team has been hired. Everything is just sitting in a warehouse. We're ready to go."
City officials confirmed that the restaurant filed for a building permit in March. I don't have full details, but it sounds like there are just still a few technical issues that the city is seeking more information on from Burger King. And it is worth noting that projects like these go beyond fixing up what's inside the four walls. I think because of its age, the property has to have some exterior changes as well. I know Burger King recently has filed a site plan to make changes to the parking lot, and Zach said the Kansas Department of Transportation had to review some plans as well related to the store's entrance on Sixth Street, which is also U.S. Highway 40.
As for the building itself, it is expected to look more like the relatively new Burger King at the Bauer Farms development near Sixth and Wakarusa. The inside also will have a more modern look, with a lot more emphasis on area for people to use their wireless devices while they dine.
Zach said he still believes construction work should take only eight to 10 weeks, once it begins.
In other news and notes from around town:
• If you see me swerving in between lanes near the intersection of Bob Billings and Iowa Street, it probably is due to one of two reasons: 1. I've dropped approximately four pounds of very hot Burger King breakfast hashbrown patties on my lap; 2. I simply can't figure out where one lane ends and the next one begins because the pavement markings have worn off at the recently reconstructed intersection.
Well, City Hall is working on a solution to No. 2. City officials later this month will open bids for a project to install permanent pavement markings at the intersection. You may be wondering why the intersection already is in need of new lane lines and such, considering that the intersection was rebuilt just last year. Well, last year's project wrapped up during a time when the weather was cold, so city engineers made the decision to simply paint lines on the pavement and wait for warmer weather to install the more permanent pavement markings, which are kind of like a thick, weather-proof tape that is applied to the pavement.
Bottom line: Expect new pavement markings at the intersection in June. The city also will be installing new crosswalk markings at nine intersections around town: Second and McDonald; Third and the Kansas Turnpike; 19th and Haskell; 19th and Kentucky; 23rd and Massachusetts; 25th and Iowa; 27th and Iowa; 31st at the post office; Clinton Parkway and Wakarusa Drive.
City crews also will be going around with the city's specialty painting machine to refresh the markings at several locations around town. Click here to see the locations.
• You may not be thinking of cold weather at the moment, but the city's homeless shelter is. The Lawrence Community Shelter spent its first winter at its new location in eastern Lawrence and evidently found that demand for a bed at the facility was strong.
The shelter is asking the City Commission to change the occupancy limit on the shelter to 160 people, up from 125 currently. The shelter says it only needs the additional occupancy during cold weather periods, which it defines as 32 degrees or below.
The fire department has determined that the shelter has enough space to allow that level of occupancy, shelter leaders said, but the building is short on showers for that number of people. Shelter leaders are asking that the facility be granted an exemption to operate with a slightly reduced number of showers during the cold weather periods.
City commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday aren't expected to make a decision on the occupancy issues. Instead, they're expected to refer the issue to city staff for further review.
• Just think about lugging 770 pounds of food around. That is a good 50 pounds more than I have to unload after my wife has hit the post-Easter candy sales. But on Saturday, there hopefully will be postal carriers all throughout Lawrence lugging around that amount of food and more.
As we have been reminding you this week, Saturday is the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, where postal carriers are encouraging all residents to place nonperishable food items in their mailboxes or near their mailboxes. Postal carriers will pick up the food, and it will be donated to Just Food, the local food bank.
We've chatted with the folks at Just Food a few times during the week, but it is the postal carriers who really are the engine that make this drive go. I chatted with Lawrence postal carrier Andy Tuttle, who is the state president of the letter carriers union and one of the organizers of the drive. He said the Lawrence carriers, who are part of the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch No. 104, hope to collect 50,000 pounds of food this year. Tuttle said about 40 city letter carriers and 25 rural carriers will be on the streets Saturday collecting the food. So, 50,000 pounds divided by 26 carriers is about 770 pounds per carrier. Tuttle said the extra load adds at least a half hour onto a carrier's route, but they don't mind.
"We're out in the neighborhoods every day," Tuttle said. "We see people up close and personal, and we see how some people struggle and suffer in the community. We know this is a way to help."
Cereal, peanut butter, tomato products, canned fruit and canned meat are some of the items most needed, Tuttle said. And lots of it. Letter carriers will have some work to do to meet their goal of 50,000 pounds. Their previous high came last year when they collected 26,000 pounds, Tuttle said.