Plans filed for a Starbucks on 23rd Street

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

A new drive-thru Starbucks would be built in the parking lot of Harbor Freight, near 23rd Street and Ousdahl Road, according to plans recently filed with Lawrence City Hall.

Plans call for Lawrence to get a new drive-thru Starbucks, and, just to add extra fun, it will be next door to a place that sells lots of power tools. (The only thing that makes a project go faster than a power nailer is a power nailer with a trigger finger fueled by a triple espresso.)

Look for a Starbucks to be built at 23rd and Ousdahl in the parking lot of the shopping center that includes the Harbor Freight retail tool store. Some of you may be more familiar with the location as the former home of Hobby Lobby, before it moved to south Iowa Street.

To be clear, though, Starbucks is not locating in a portion of the large building that used to house Hobby Lobby. Instead, plans call for an entirely new building to be constructed in the parking lot. Plans show the coffee shop will be built right next to the southwest corner of 23rd Street and Ousdahl, so basically across the street from Perkins restaurant, which, like Starbucks, is also in the pastry business. (Maybe there will be a pastry war on Ousdahl, which I hope would result in catapults of pie.)

Harbor Freight Tools

As for the store, plans call for about a 2,200 square-foot building, plus an approximately 450 square-foot patio. The drawings show a drive-thru lane parallel with 23rd Street. The development would have entrances off both 23rd Street and Ousdahl Road.

This will be the third stand-alone Starbucks in Lawrence, joining the one near Sixth and Massachusetts streets and the one at Sixth and Wakarusa Drive. This is the point in the column where I normally say, “if you aren’t familiar with Starbucks” and then proceed to enlighten you. That seems pointless here, since I don’t speak Martian. (Let’s not kid ourselves, the Martians know about Starbucks too.) I’m assuming the 23rd Street store will be much like the Sixth Street store in terms of size and the offerings of coffee, pastries and other such items.

The store is noteworthy, though, in what it says about the efforts to redevelop the former Hobby Lobby location. There certainly was some concern that when Hobby Lobby decided to move into the old J.C. Penney location near 33rd and Iowa streets that the old site might be tough to redevelop. The vacancy came at the same time that traffic levels were starting to drop on 23rd Street with the completion of the South Lawrence Trafficway bypass project.

The property is being redeveloped by the Wichita-based Walter Morris Companies. I put a call into the representative of the company to get an update on how the project is going, but haven’t heard back. Thus far, about a third of the old building is leased to Harbor Freight. The building easily could accommodate two more retailers. I’m assuming the parking lot won’t be able to accommodate another building other than the Starbucks.

The project is kind of shaping up like a couple of other properties that people were once worried about — the former Sears building at 27th and Iowa streets and the former J.C. Penney building at 33rd and Iowa streets. Both have been redeveloped with multiple new retailers. Across the street at the old Hastings bookstore building, redevelopment is also underway. In case you had forgotten, Crunch Fitness has signed a deal to take over that vacant space.

The old Hobby Lobby space still needs another retailer or two before it will be deemed a major success, but Starbucks’ entry seems to be a sign that the corridor is going to be a viable commercial center into the future. After all, Starbucks doesn’t make a living by building where people aren’t.


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