Plans filed for new apartment complex north of Memorial Stadium
There were plenty of times in college when I couldn’t find my car, and that was well before the trend of student apartment complexes with underground parking garages. In case you are wondering, that does appear to be a new trend in Lawrence. Plans have been filed for a new apartment complex north of the KU campus that will use underground parking to help increase the number of apartments that can be built on the site.
Plans have been filed to demolish the Hawker Apartments at 10th and Missouri streets, and replace them with three new apartment buildings that each will have underground parking garages.
I think a development group led by Thomas Fritzel is building the property. His group owns the current Hawker Apartments, and while the City Hall application is a little unclear on who the developer is, the new project is dubbed Hawker II Apartments and is being designed by Lawrence-based Paul Werner Architects, which does a lot of work for Fritzel’s groups.
The plans propose that three new buildings be constructed at 1011 Missouri St. The four-story buildings would house a total of 56 apartments that would contain 216 bedrooms. That’s quite a bit larger than what is currently on the site. The current complex checks in at 32 apartments with 72 bedrooms, according to the plans.
The key to the greater density is underground parking. Each building would have a two-level parking garage beneath it. The plans call for 211 underground parking spaces and only 25 above-ground spaces.
It is interesting to watch projects like this. Sometimes changing the density on a residential property sparks complaints from neighbors. That may not be the case here, as the neighborhood is already dominated by student housing. But it happens elsewhere, and it can be problematic for City Hall. A fairly consistent message that has come out of City Hall is that we need to do infill projects, and we need to look for opportunities to increase density. It follows the idea that Lawrence wants to be more urban than suburban, and we want to limit sprawl. In some regards, that means underground parking and more apartments. However, rank-and-file residents haven’t always bought into the concept.
Again, this project may not have much of an issue. The zoning for the property is already in place. The project just needs to win site plan approvals from the planning department.
The project is also noteworthy because it involves underground parking garages but the developer isn’t yet asking for any financial incentives. That wasn’t the case with the big HERE apartment project across from Memorial Stadium, and it hasn’t been the case with downtown projects that use underground garages. Underground projects in downtown typically receive tax rebates, and city commissioners have been told the projects aren’t feasible unless they get those rebates.
Developing downtown versus next to the university can be different, but it will be interesting to watch whether the calculations on underground parking and its feasibility begin to change. I believe this will be at least the third time that a Fritzel group has used underground parking as part of an apartment project without seeking city incentives.
As for other details on the project, I’ve got a call into Lawrence architect Paul Werner for information about the projected timeline and other such information. I’ll pass it along when I get it.