Plans filed for new apartment complex on the eastern edge of Lawrence

Courtesy: CFS Engineers/City of Lawrence

Maybe eastern Lawrence was getting jealous. It saw all the apartments being built in west Lawrence and south Lawrence and felt it was getting left out of Lawrence’s apartment boom. Well, fear not. Plans have been filed for a new apartment complex along the city’s eastern edge.

Plans have been filed at City Hall for 128 new apartments to be built near the southwest corner of 23rd Street and O’Connell Road. The development, which is being proposed by Lawrence apartment developer Doug Compton’s First Management, would have eight two-story buildings with a mix of one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.

In total, there would be 64 one-bedroom apartments and 64 two-bedroom units. It is cold out there, so don’t take off your shoes. I’ll do the math for you: That’s 192 new bedrooms for the area. In the Lawrence apartment industry, that’s now considered a middling-size project. For example, the recent plans for an apartment complex just south of the Walmart on south Iowa Street calls for about 700 bedrooms. Plans for an apartment complex near Clinton Parkway and Crestline Drive call for about 500 bedrooms.

In addition to the eight apartment buildings, the project also calls for an approximately 2,500-square-foot, one-story clubhouse that appears to also have room for an outdoor basketball or volleyball court. The plan also shows about half-dozen, single-story garages that could accommodate about 40 vehicles in total.

As for the location, the project would have frontage along 23rd Street but would take its access off of Exchange Court. Exchange Court is a short cul-de-sac that has been completed for several years just south and west of the 23rd and O’Connell intersection. The apartment complex will be on both the north and south side of Exchange Court, but won’t go all the way to the corner of 23rd and O’Connell. The plans show there are still three lots available for future development at the southwest corner of the intersection.

OConnell Rd & E 23rd St, Lawrence, KS 66046

This area once was considered for a development that would provide subsidized rental housing for working families. The Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority was going to be a partner in that project. But there are no indications that this plan includes that element. I talked with Shannon Oury, executive director of the housing authority, and she said her organization is not involved. She said efforts to build the envisioned workforce housing project fell apart after the project had difficulties obtaining tax credits, and after a rise in interest rates caused about a $1 million shortfall in the financing plan.

While a traditional apartment complex is a bit unique for the area, there have been several other developments in the area recently. Lawrence developer Roger Johnson for the last couple of years has been building a new single family neighborhood farther to the south and east of the site. Directly south of the site, a 55-plus, rent-controlled development has been built by Johnson County-based Wheatland Investments.

The area has seen an uptick in interest as the city has tried to redevelop the former Farmland Industries fertilizer plant across the street in VenturePark, the city’s new business park. There has been a thought that area would be a good one for workforce housing, which is a another way of saying starter homes that could be occupied by people who are working in the industrial park. Thus far, though, there have been more homes built than there have been jobs added at VenturePark.

However, do expect work to begin in the spring on the first building in VenturePark. As we’ve reported, Kansas City-based Van Trust Real Estate plans to build a “spec” industrial building in the park, which is another way of saying that the building is being built without a specific tenant in place. The plans for that building have been filed at City Hall. I’m working to talk with a Van Trust official about how the leasing efforts are going, and I’ll report back when I get some more information.