LJWorld.com weblogs Town Talk
An update on the plans for a Casey's store on Sixth Street; Lawrence drink business shut down by the state
Even though baseball season is upon us (yeah, I hadn’t noticed either), it is not Casey at the Bat that I have on my mind. I want to know when Casey’s breakfast pizza is going to be on my dashboard. It has been almost seven months since Casey’s General Store filed plans to build its first Lawrence store, but still no work is underway.
I talked with the city planner who is reviewing the project, though, and she assured me it is still an active development project. City Planner Sandra Day said she had just recently talked to an architect with Casey’s who was making changes to the proposed site plan in an effort to resolve some access issues with the property.
If you have forgotten, Casey’s filed plans in September to build one of its gas station/convenience stores at 1703 W. Sixth St., which is the site of the College Motel. The store also would occupy the property just to the west, which used to house Action Automotive.
If you don’t know what a Casey’s General Store is, you likely have better cholesterol levels than I do, but are woefully ill-prepared to talk about the quality of various convenience store pizzas. Casey’s is a national convenience store chain that also is one of the largest sellers of pizza in America, including a breakfast pizza that features egg, cheese, bacon and other goodness.
The Iowa-based company has about 2,000 stores, and most of them are in small communities. The company’s original strategy was to locate in towns of 5,000 or fewer people, but it since has modified that approach.
This would be the company’s first store in Lawrence, although it kind of has the town surrounded. There are Casey’s locations in Eudora, De Soto, Tonganoxie, McLouth, Perry, Ottawa, and several on the outskirts of Topeka.
All the stores sell gasoline, pizza, doughnuts, lots of grab-and-go food and the other convenience store basics. The question remains, when will they start selling them in the Lawrence market? I didn’t get a good answer on any timeline for the project.
What I was told was figuring out how to safely get cars in and out of the site was the major sticking point with the project. The site will need at least one driveway off of Sixth Street and one driveway off of Wisconsin Street. The Sixth Street driveway would be pretty close to the intersection of Sixth and Wisconsin, which can create concerns for traffic planners. Whether the driveway would require some access restrictions — such as making it a right-in only driveway — is among the topics under consideration, I’ve been told.
Plus, I think part of the conversation also could include whether Wisconsin Street needs a traffic signal. That could be a major expense, and probably is worth watching.
The other piece of interesting Casey’s news is that I think the company has interest in at least a second store for Lawrence. I’ve now heard from multiple sources that Casey’s was very interested in building a store near the southwest corner of 23rd and O’Connell streets in eastern Lawrence.
The company never filed actual plans with City Hall on that project, but I think access issues again were a potential concern. I’m not sure the company is still considering that site, based on what I’ve heard. But certainly there is quite bit of additional vacant commercial ground near that intersection, if the company is interested.
In other news and notes from around town:
• If juice and smoothies are more your thing, there’s bad news on that front. The longtime Lawrence business Juice Stop has been shut down by the state of Kansas. The reason is unpaid taxes.
The Kansas Department of Revenue has confirmed it seized the assets of the business earlier this week. The department contends the business owes nearly $50,800 in back sales taxes. It has filed tax warrants in both Douglas and Johnson counties as part of the case. The action is against the store owner Juice Stop Mo Kan LLC, according to the department.
The business has three locations in Lawrence — 812 Massachusetts St., 3514 Clinton Parkway, and 4821 W. Sixth St. — and all of them are closed as part of the seizure, department of revenue spokeswoman Rachel Whitten said.
I’ve reached out for comment from a manager of Juice Stop but haven’t yet heard back. Whitten told me the seizure process is still at the stage where the business could negotiate a settlement with the state and continue operating. However, she couldn’t provide me any information on whether such talks are underway.
Absent some type of settlement, the state eventually will sell the assets of the business in an effort to pay off the back taxes.
It wasn’t immediately clear how long the back taxes had been accumulating, but Whitten said the department views seizures of businesses as a last resort.
“The department makes every effort to work with the owners so the business doesn’t have to be shut down,” Whitten said.
I’ll let you know if I hear more about the future of the business, or any new tenants for the spaces.