Car dealership files plans to build along Sixth Street; Lawrence High and KU alumnus to be inducted into a worldwide hall of fame
Nothing said “eclectic Lawrence” quite like the limo service at Sixth and Colorado streets, which is right next door to the Lawrence Feed & Farm Supply store. In between the two is a tiny, red A-frame office building that is smaller than most of the limos. Well, say goodbye to that scene. One of Sixth Street’s more undeveloped lots is about to get a makeover.
Plans have been filed at City Hall to tear down the little cabin-like building as part of an auto dealership project that will locate on the site at 1716 W. Sixth St.
Longtime auto executive Scott Teenor will be the owner of the new dealership, which will sell only used cars.
“We’ll be able to have 40 to 45 used cars and trucks over there,” Teenor said. “I already have a sales force lined up. We’re hoping to do great things over there.”
Some of you may remember that the site for many years housed a used car dealership, Vantuyl Motors. I don’t know if that dealership was the one who built the little cabin on the property, but it certainly used it for a long time.
Teenor’s development calls for a significant upgrade. The plans call for the construction of a building that will house an indoor showroom and a service area. Lawrence architect Allen Belot is designing the project. In addition to the new building, he said the entire site — which currently is pretty much a gravel lot — will be required to be brought up to city codes with paved parking, landscaping and other such features.
“It is going to be a great improvement for that lot,” Belot said.
Teenor is a former general manager for the Briggs Auto Group, and also has worked at other Lawrence dealerships. He said the new dealership, which simply will be named Sixth Street Auto, will focus on vehicles selling between $5,000 and $20,000. Teenor said the used car market currently is a hot part of the auto market.
“It will get even better for the consumer in the next two or three years,” he said. “There are more rental or program cars out there than ever before, and those come back on the market as used cars.”
Teenor also is in the motorcycle market. He owns Lawrence Motorsports, which sells used motorcycles, ATVs and other vehicles at 1610 W. 23rd St. He said he will continue to operate that business as well.
As for the Sixth Street project, Teenor said he plans to break ground on the development in the next two to three weeks and hopes to be open by early next year.
In other news and notes from around town:
• I don’t know that Lawrence High and KU graduate Alan Mulally ever sold cars from a triangular-shaped building. (I wonder if it would cause car salesmen to get to the point quicker?) Regardless, Mulally has done pretty well for himself in the industry.
In case you have forgotten, Mulally is the former president and CEO of Ford Motor Company. Now, Mulally is set to be inducted in the Automotive Hall of Fame. The trade publication Crain Automotive News reports that Mulally has been selected to be inducted into the hall, which is in Detroit. The induction ceremony is set for July 21.
Mulally, who grew up in Lawrence in the 1960s and received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering from KU, is largely credited with saving Ford Motor Company when the other two members of the Big Three automakers had to take government bailouts last decade.
Prior to arriving at Ford, Mulally was a top executive with Boeing. The Crain article reports that Mulally has moved back to Seattle — “with a Ford Taurus and more than $300 million in compensation as souvenirs of eight Michigan winters.” Mulally retired in 2014.
Mulally declined an offer to remain on Ford’s board of directors, but he has joined the board of directors of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., and Carbon 3D, a Silicon Valley 3D printing company, Crain reports.
“I have found a new love in Google,” Mulally told Seattle University students in October, Crain reports. “I’m a Googler now.”
Mulally has made several trips to Lawrence in recent years, including to the university and for a fundraiser for Lawrence public schools. Lawrence leaders talk about the need to create a network of successful KU alumni who could lend their talents in helping Lawrence and the university prosper. Certainly, Mulally would be near the top of such a list.
Outta my way. I gotta catch the subway to Sixth and Wakarusa.
What's that? Me fuhgeddaboudit? You fuhgeddaboudit. There has to be a subway to Sixth and Wakarusa. It's the capital of New York-style pizza.
The West Lawrence intersection already is home to two establishments that make New York-style pizza a big part of their menus — Morningstar's New York Pizza and the West Lawrence Johnny's Tavern location. Well, a third player in the renaissance of thin-crust pizza with slices large enough to serve as a makeshift ski mask is headed for the intersection.
Johnny Brusco's, a growing chain of New York-style pizza places, has signed a deal to locate in the former Godfather's Pizza location at 721 Wakarusa Drive, just a couple doors down from Johnny's and just a parking lot over from Morningstar's.
The landlord for the building, Lawrence developer Greg DiVilbiss, confirmed the new tenant, and an employee at one of Johnny Brusco's Kansas City metro area locations also confirmed the new location.
I wasn't able to get in touch with the principal of the new establishment, but the restaurant's website gives you a feel for the place. For those of you who miss the days of going into Godfather's with your elastic waistbands to enjoy its all you-can-eat buffet (I assume that's how we all did it), it doesn't appear those days are to return. The menu doesn't mention anything about buffets, but it does have a lot of lunch specials in the $5 to $9 range, and it has a lot more than pizza on it, too.
The menu includes more than a half dozen salads, ranging from strawberry pecan to buffalo chicken. Pasta also is on the menu, including baked ziti, stuffed ravioli, and a variety of spaghetti dishes. About 15 sub sandwiches are on the menu, as are traditional appetizers such as garlic knots, bruschetta and fried ravioli. There's even some kind of dessert called zeppoles, a traditional east coast-style Italian funnel cake, according to my vast knowledge of New York City. (Or perhaps that's what it said on the menu.)
According to the website, the chain has its roots in a little pizza shop near the campus of the University of Syracuse, but the operation in the 1970s branched off into Atlanta. It became a large chain in the Southeast, and now is expanding into the Midwest. The franchisee of the Lawrence restaurant also operates three Johnny Brusco's in the Kansas City area — two in Overland Park and one near K-10 and Ridgeview.
I don't have a timeline on when the restaurant may open, but my understanding is that the establishment has started advertising for employees, so I would guess an opening is around the corner.
Other news and notes from around town:
• Keep your eyes on a couple of pieces of land just north of Sixth and Wakarusa. City commissioners have approved the rezoning of two small parcels near the intersection of Wakarusa and Overland drives to allow commercial office development.
The rezoning includes a 1.65 acre lot on the west side of Wakarusa and north of Overland. That puts it just northwest of the Walmart store and on the front edge of about 25 acres of property owned by the city for use as a park someday. The rezoning also includes a 1.12 acre tract on the east side of Wakarusa and north of Overland. It basically is right behind home plate of the baseball field at Free State High.
Power commercial real estate broker Allison Vance Moore is marketing both properties, but no word yet on what type of development may occur there. Both lots previously were zoned urban reserve, a placeholder zoning designation. The new zoning is commercial-office, which allows uses such as doctor's offices, veterinary clinics, banks, and a host of office-oriented uses. Traditional retail is possible in the district, but generally on a very small scale.
• Also keep your eyes on Alan Mulally, surely one of the more successful graduates in the history of Lawrence High and Kansas University. Mulally, CEO of Ford, keeps having his name attached as a leading candidate to replace Steve Ballmer at Microsoft. There are lots of stories online about the possibility. Mulally only has committed to stay at Ford through the end of 2014, which has helped fuel the speculation, I'm sure. The bigger factor, of course, is that Mulally engineered a major turnaround of Ford, making it the only U.S. automaker that didn't accept a government bailout. He and outgoing Microsoft CEO Ballmer are reportedly good friends. There have been several articles online about the possibility of a Mulally-led Microsoft. Who knows if anything will come of it, but just think of it for a moment: A KU and LHS grad leading Bill Gates' company. It would be pretty cool.
But also think of this possibility. If Mulally doesn't end up at Microsoft, he may well be looking to retire. According to the reports I've seen, Mulally is 68. Lawrence and Douglas County have put a lot of effort into attracting retirees to the community. There's even a task force to study the issue. Maybe local leaders should create a task force to attract Alan Mulally to retire here. I only say that half in jest. A man of Mulally's talents and connections certainly could be a wonderful asset to Lawrence as it tries to establish itself as a major player in the technology world. So, maybe an Alan Mulally Attraction Task Force wouldn't be such a crazy idea.
Or, we can just hope he really likes New York style pizza. Then it would be a no-brainer.