Dick’s Sporting Goods to have ribbon cutting Tuesday, grand opening June 6-8; Massachusetts Street named top tourist attraction in state
It soon will be a new ballgame for Lawrence sports and outdoor enthusiasts.
Dick's Sporting Goods has announced the dates for its grand opening in Lawrence, and as expected, it is coming right up. The national retailer will host a grand opening celebration from Friday, June 6 to Sunday June 8 at its new location at 27th and Iowa streets.
And as we told you last week, Dick's has been planning for a special in-store appearance to mark the occasion, and now we have details on that too. Former KU standout Danny Manning will be at the store to sign autographs from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. June 7.
The company also will host several giveaways, including free gift cards ranging from $5 to $500 for the first 100 adults in line June 7 and June 8. The store opens at 8 a.m. June 6-7 and at 9 a.m. June 8.
But also keep your eyes open for the store to do a soft opening early next week. I haven't gotten an announcement from the company about a soft opening, but I note that a ribbon cutting with city officials has been scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. I would think the store would be open after the ribbon has been cut.
The store's opening has been much anticipated because it will be the city's first sports-oriented big box retailer. It will go into competition with more locally-oriented retailers such as Francis Sporting Goods downtown and the Jock's Nitch chain, which recently expanded with a store near 23rd Street and Naismith Drive.
There will be others they compete with too. The company is touting its wide range of services that stretch from firearms to golf equipment. The company says it will have more than 40 in-store services, such as golf club repair and fitting; bike tune-ups; racquet stringing; scope mounting and boresighting for firearms; CO2 cartridge filling; glove steaming for baseball and softball; line winding for fishing; and archery services.
Perhaps you have been trying to do your own glove steaming or racquet stringing, and are just getting up to speed on Dick's entrance into the Lawrence market. The store is taking space in the former Sears building at 2727 Iowa St. Dick's is taking the center portion of the building, but space remains for two other significant retailers in the building. No word yet on who those will be, but a representative with the commercial firm marketing the property reports that interest in the space is strong.
I don't doubt them. Retail activity on south Iowa Street has picked up. A new Buffalo Wild Wings building is under construction caddy-corner from the Dick's Sporting Goods location. That building also will have space for an additional retailer not yet named. Plans for a new Menard's store just east of Home Depot at 31st and Iowa also are still moving along, although slowly. That site will include space for about a half-dozen smaller retailers and restaurants.
Plus, developers are still pursuing plans for a major new retail center that would be at the southeast corner of the intersection of the South Lawrence Trafficway and Iowa Street. My understanding is that plan is probably still a couple of months away from having a hearing before the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission.
In other news and notes from around town:
• We'll have to wait and see whether Lawrence's Dick's Sporting Goods becomes the top tourist destination in Kansas. If it does, it will have to unseat another Lawrence shopping area, at least according to the folks at the travel Web site Trip Advisor. Massachusetts Street was selected as the top destination in Kansas.
The company has compiled user data from its site to come up with the most popular attraction in each of the 50 states. The site uses something called its "TripAdvisor Popularity Index" to determine the top destinations. The index uses information such as the quality and quantity of reviews a destination has received, and it also looks at how recent the reviews are for a destination. So, I guess all those glowing reviews of the Honk for Hemp guy are paying off.
Haskell Avenue may reopen earlier than expected; Dick’s Sporting Goods expected to announce opening date soon
The Haskell Hassle may be over sooner than we expected. If you aren't familiar with the Haskell Hassle, that's the phrase I've coined to describe the traffic mess that has resulted from the closure of a key portion of Haskell Avenue south of 23rd Street. (I thought for sure the Haskell Hassle T-shirts were going to fund my kids' college education. I guess I should have set the T-shirt stand up on a part of the road that wasn't closed.)
Regardless, the word at City Hall these days is that the closed part of Haskell Avenue is scheduled to reopen in July. That's different than what has been reported previously. The city's official infrastructure report warns motorists that the road may be closed until the spring of 2015.
But City Engineer David Cronin has told city commissioners that the latest information he has from the Kansas Department of Transportation is that the road likely will open in July. Even though Haskell is a city street, KDOT is the boss on this project because the closure is part of the South Lawrence Trafficway construction.
This may mean our little trips in the country may be coming to an end. Perhaps those of you on the western side of the city aren't familiar with this, but motorists on the eastern edge of the city have been taking some pretty creative routes to get to the 31st and Haskell area. A popular one has been to take O'Connell Road and then hook up with a gravel road that is officially known as North 1250. Unofficially it is known as the Retirement Plan for Every Shock and Alignment Shop in Town. The road has become a bit bumpy. As traffic congestion has grown at 23rd and Louisiana, this route has become particularly popular for some people in my house looking for a short cut to get to the shopping shrine known as South Iowa Street. (There are also some other routes. Through the cow pasture, cut the barbed wire, hit the ramp at 30 miles an hour to get over the creek . . . wait, I'm probably not supposed to talk about this.)
But don't worry, once Haskell Avenue opens, you'll still have opportunities to take some circuitous routes through Lawrence. That's because, as we've previously reported, the eastern part of 31st Street is set to close once Haskell reopens. Perhaps you are confused: 31st Street is being closed because it is being relocated to the south as part of the SLT project. When it reopens — perhaps in mid 2015 — it will be in its new location, and it won't end at Haskell Avenue. The new 31st Street will stretch all the way to O'Connell Road.
But there will be closures in the meantime. If you suffer from low blood pressure, look at the map below to get a sense of what closures will be in place for probably about a year. Or click on this link to get a larger view.
The takeaway from that map is that my wife is shopping for a four-wheeler with a U-Haul trailer to get back and forth from the South Iowa Shopping district. Cronin said his understanding is that 31st Street between Louisiana and Ousdahl will close sometime in June. The rest of 31st Street between Louisiana and Haskell will close in July, after Haskell Avenue has been reopened. So, you'll be able to travel on Haskell, but you won't be able to turn onto 31st Street. You'll also be able to travel on Louisiana, but you won't be able to turn onto 31st Street.
If you are on the eastern side of the city, you could drive down 23rd Street and turn at Iowa, but you may want to remember that 23rd and Iowa is the site of a major reconstruction project into November. But city officials are still going to encourage motorists to take that route. Cronin said it may not be as bad as you think. During much of the project — but not all — westbound 23rd Street will have two lanes of traffic and one left-hand turn lane open.
Another option Cronin has suggest is to take Haskell Avenue extended to County Route 458 just south of Lawrence. Then take County Route 458 over to U.S. Highway 59, which leads right into the South Iowa Street shopping district.
So, maybe our drives in the country aren't over yet, but I wouldn't count on it. When city commissioners were being briefed on the situation, Commissioner Terry Riordan interjected. He pointed out that 27th Street will still be open. Indeed, 27th Street between Louisiana and Iowa Street will be open. But City Manager David Corliss jumped in and said city officials wouldn't want to do anything to encourage that as a detour. The area along 27th Street is residential, and homeowners there probably wouldn't appreciate the thousands of extra cars per day.
But whether city officials encourage it or not, I suspect residents along 27th Street ought to brace themselves for what could be heavier than normal traffic for the next several months. But don't worry, I'll do my part: I'll ask my wife to put a better muffler on the four-wheeler.
In other news and notes from around town:
• I don't yet have an opening date for Dick's Sporting Goods at 27th and Iowa street, but I'm getting a certain tingling in my cleats that suggests news on that front is coming soon. (I hope that is what the tingling is.)
Actually, I got a note from a Dick's Sporting Goods representative that said they expect to announce the grand opening date for the store next week. That doesn't mean the store is opening next week, but it is probably a good indication that we're only a few weeks away. Company officials have said they'll have a big three-day grand opening celebration that will include a "variety of giveaways and special appearances in-store." I will let you know when I hear the date.
Signs that Chick-fil-A seeking store site on South Iowa Street; Dick’s Sporting Goods likely opening in June
Grab ahold of your drumsticks, Lawrence. There are real signs that Chick-fil-A is seriously considering building a new restaurant here.
A company representative has filed paperwork with the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning office inquiring about the zoning of the former Sears site at 2727 Iowa St.
The former Sears site, of course, is where Dick's Sporting Goods plans to open a store. (An update on that in just a moment.) But plans for the project also include constructing a new building in a corner of the parking lot. The plans I've seen call for the restaurant building to be constructed in the southeast corner of the lot, kind of next to the Midas auto repair building that sits on Iowa Street.
Certainly, I've heard rumors that Chick-fil-A was interested in the site, but if I had a dollar for every time I heard a Chick-fil-A rumor, I would have at least seven or eight dollars. It is important to note that this latest development doesn't seal a deal that Chick-fil-A is coming to Lawrence, but it is evidence that the company is fairly far along in its evaluation of Lawrence and the former Sears site.
What the company has sought from the planning office is a "zoning certification letter." We're deep in the planning weeds here, but basically those letters further clarify what type of uses are legally allowed. Often, the letters are required by lenders before they will finance a project.
So, I'll keep my eyes open for any more developments on the deal. Certainly there have been rumors of other restaurants interested in the site, and I do believe interest in the location has been high. It's possible that the development group may be in the envious position of having more than one restaurant vying for the location.
If a Chick-fil-A does build in Lawrence, it will mark the end of one of the more frequent questions I've been asked in the 20-plus years I've reported here: When is Chick-fil-A going to build in Lawrence? I remind folks that Chick-fil-A operates a location in the food court of Wescoe Hall at KU, but that small location with limited hours isn't satisfying Chick-fil-A fans, based on the number of questions I get.
For those of you not familiar with the chain (your cholesterol levels must be fantastic, by the way), it's famous for its chicken sandwich, but it also has salads, wraps and serves breakfast.
In other news and notes from around town:
• The other big question I've been getting lately is, "When is Dick's Sporting Goods going to open?" A source close to the development tells me that June is now a likely opening date for the store.
Indeed, a building permit has been issued and work is underway at the site. The plans I've seen show Dick's occupying about 50,000 square feet in the middle portion of the building. That leaves space for an approximately 30,000-square-foot retailer on the southern end of the building, and about 10,000 square feet of space in the northeast corner of the building.
There certainly has been speculation that Old Navy may be a target tenant for the smaller space. But we'll have to take a wait-and-see approach on that one. I'm told no deal has been reached on the other spaces in the development.
But certainly the site — which was purchased by a group led by veteran Wichita real estate developer Michael Boyd — has some momentum currently. It will be interesting to watch what other national companies have an interest in Lawrence.
• It appears it also will be interesting to watch whether Lawrence City Hall ends up with a director of arts and culture position. As we reported, city commissioners last night received the final report from the city's Cultural District Task Force. A key recommendation of the report is for City Hall to hire a new position that will coordinate and market the community's efforts to become a major arts and culture destination for visitors.
Commissioners didn't take any action on creating the new position, but they sent plenty of signals that the position may stand a real chance to win approval. Commissioners said they may not want to wait until budget hearings this summer to have the discussion about whether to add the position to the 2015 city budget. Instead, commissioners asked staff to bring a report back in the next several weeks. There is grant possibility the Kansas Department of Commerce could pay for part of the first year expenses for the director. The city needs to make a decision on the grant, which would require matching dollars from the city, by early February.
City Manager David Corliss told commissioners last night that he supports the idea for a director of arts and culture. He said he's confident there's plenty of work such a position could undertake. It has been estimated that the position would add about $100,000 to the city budget, once salary, benefits and an operating budget for the position is created.
A large contingent from the local arts community came out in support of the idea at Tuesday's city commission meeting. Task force members also stressed that they believe the position is critical, and is a common city government position in communities that are thriving arts destinations.
Members of the city's Cultural District Task Force are: City Commissioner Bob Schumm; local marketing executive Cindy Maude; Lawrence Arts Center Director Susan Tate; downtown Lawrence business owner Mike Logan; East Lawrence neighborhood representative and artist KT Walsh; East Lawrence neighborhood representative Jacki Becker; East Lawrence neighborhood representative Brenda Nunez; Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission member Grace Peterson; and Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission representative Mandy Enfield.
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Yes, Lawrence really is going to get a Dick's Sporting Goods store.
We reported last week that a building permit application had been made that strongly suggested a Dick's Sporting Goods store was set to go into a portion of the former Sears building at 27th and Iowa streets. Well, more paperwork has surfaced that is more definitive.
A site plan has been filed for the former Sears building, and the plan is titled "Dick's Sporting Good Store." And it looks like Lawrence probably will get a new restaurant out of the deal as well. The site plan application shows that a Wichita-based development group is proposing to build a 4,000-square-foot restaurant building in the southeast corner of the Sears parking lot. That will put it adjacent to the Midas auto repair shop along Iowa Street.
Here are details of the project, according to the site plan:
• The Dick's Sporting Goods store will occupy the majority of the building, at 50,395 square feet. In case you are wondering whether this is a mini-Dick's store, it doesn't appear to be. According to a respected retail guide — ChainLinks Retail Advisors — the Lawrence store will be about an average-size facility for Dick's. ChainLinks says Dick's stores come in three sizes: a large store format of 80,000 square feet, an average-size store of 50,000 square feet and a small-scale store of 35,000 square feet. This one's in the middle.
• The southern end of the existing building will have space for 29,221 square feet of retail space. The site plan doesn't give any clues about what retailer may be going into that space, and it's quite possible a tenant hasn't yet been found. There's certainly speculation, though. I've heard several people rooting for Old Navy to make a return to Lawrence. It left town in early 2012, and its space near 33rd and Iowa street was taken over by Ross Dress for Less. Speculation at the time was that Old Navy wanted to remain in Lawrence, but company strategy was dictating a smaller store for this size of market. If that's the case, the former Sears space may not be it. The proposed space at Sears is about 10,000 square feet larger than what Old Navy had in the Pine Ridge Plaza.
• The project will have space for a smaller store, however. The northeast corner of the existing building is being configured to accommodate an approximately 10,000-square-foot retail space. If you are an Old Navy fan, that may be one to watch. An article by the industry publication Retail Traffic reported in 2011 that Old Navy was reducing the size of its average store to about 10,000 square feet. But just to be clear, there isn't any official word on Old Navy wanting to return to Lawrence. It's just speculation at the moment in some real estate circles, and in some cases, wishful thinking among some shoppers that I know. But still, it's probably a name worth keeping an eye on.
I'll make another run at trying to get in contact with the new owners of the property — a group led by noted Wichita developer Michael Boyd — and will report back if I get any new details.
It is sure beginning to look like Dick's Sporting Goods is headed for the vacant Sears building on South Iowa Street.
In recent days, the building at 2727 Iowa St. has sold and a building permit has been filed at City Hall that contains clues that suggest Dick's Sporting Goods will be the main tenant for the building. The building permit application doesn't specifically state that Dick's is the tenant, but the architect for the property labeled the remodeling project "Dick's Tenant White Box." White box, for those of you not up on the lingo, is the phrase used to describe a basic remodeling job that creates a clean space for a tenant to begin installing their own shelves, fixtures and furniture.
The plans filed at City Hall also show that the 86,000-square-foot building would be divided into three spaces for retailers, with the large anchor space checking in at about 50,400 square feet. That indicates that there will be room for at least two other significant retailers to locate in the building. There was nothing in the filings at City Hall to indicate who those retailers may be.
As for the sale of the property, TMD Iowa LLC has purchased the property from California-based Sinay Lawrence Kansas LLC, according to records from the Douglas County Register of Deeds.
TMD Iowa, according to records from the Kansas Secretary of State's office, includes Michael Boyd, a noted commercial real estate developer with Wichita-based Walter Morris Companies. That also lends credence to the idea that Dick's is headed for the space.
Talk in local commercial real estate circles is that Walter Morris Companies has had the building under contract for several months, but has been waiting on a final commitment from Dick's before they closed on the building.
"My understanding is they have had it under contract since spring," one source told me. "I'm sure this is a sign that they've finally got the Dick's deal signed."
The source I talked with said the addition of Boyd and the Walter Morris Companies to Lawrence market is a good sign because they are experienced retail developers.
"They were really active in Wichita for a long time," the source said. "They are pretty big players. They have some deep pockets and I think they have long wanted to be in the Lawrence market."
As we reported in April, executives associated with Walter Morris Companies were involved in the purchase of the former Tanger Factory Outlet Mall site, now called the I-70 Business Center, in North Lawrence.
I've got a call into Michael Boyd to try to find out some details about this latest purchase. I'll let you know what I hear, and of course, I'll also keep my ears open for the speculation on other retailers that may be interested in the remaining two spaces in the building.
As Briggs prepares to move out of Sears building, rumors heat up that Dick’s Sporting Goods will be moving in
Here’s what we know: The folks at Briggs Auto Group soon will be vacating the former Sears building at 27th and Iowa streets.
Here’s what’s likely to happen: A whole bunch of speculation that Dick’s Sporting Goods will move into the prime piece of South Iowa Street property.
Rumors of a Dick’s Sporting Goods coming to town are nothing new, but there does seem to be quite a bit of smoke with this particular batch of rumors. And you know what they say: Where there is smoke, there’s usually a kid with a half-dozen Roman candles in each hand and a package of Black Cats in his back pocket. (Actually, maybe they only say that in my neighborhood, although no one would hear it.)
The point is, there may be something to the speculation this time. Mike Neyman, general manager for Briggs Nissan, said the landlord for the Sears building has notified the auto dealership that it will need to vacate the premises by the end of the month because a new deal for the building is being processed.
Neyman said the timeline shouldn’t create a problem for Briggs, because the Nissan dealership already has moved into its new facility in the nearby Lawrence Auto Plaza, and work on the Dodge dealership is expected to be done by the end of the month. (More on Briggs’ developments in a moment.)
Multiple sources in the real estate and development industries tell me that a deal has been struck by an investment group to buy the approximately 90,000-square-foot Sears building. The same sources say that the group has a major national anchor tenant committed to the building. The strong speculation is that it's Dick’s, because the company has been scouting for locations in the city.
“Dick’s is the player here,” one source said.
The chain Hibbett Sports also has shown interest in Lawrence over the years, but it is seen as a less likely option at this location because it usually locates in far smaller buildings.
But speaking of size, it seems unlikely that Dick’s Sporting Goods would occupy all of the nearly 90,000 square feet of the old Sears building. According to press reports in other markets, store sizes for Dick’s usually are around 45,000 to 60,000 square feet.
Local real estate professionals say what is likely is that the old Sears building would be split into perhaps two or three spaces, meaning that other new retailers may be coming to the market as well.
I know there was a lot of interest in that type of concept shortly after Sears closed its store in 2012. A development group tried to buy the building at that time, with the hopes of attracting both Dick’s and Old Navy to the location. But negotiations with the Los Angeles-based real estate group that owns the property were difficult. Early last year, Old Navy closed its store on South Iowa, which was where Ross Dress for Less is now located. I’m told Old Navy, at the time anyway, still was very much interested in the Lawrence market, but needed a smaller space to accommodate a new strategic direction for the company. Whether it is still interested in the market more than a year later, I don’t know.
Once all the smoke clears, we’ll see.
All this talk of rumors can get in the way of what actually is happening. The folks at the Briggs Auto Group are nearing the end of a multimillion-dollar effort to remake the Lawrence Auto Plaza just north of 31st and Iowa streets.
Briggs Nissan has moved into its new showroom and dealership facility right at the Iowa Street entrance to the Auto Plaza. You might remember the location as the former home of the Jim Clark Dodge/Chrysler dealership.
As we previously have reported, the Nissan dealership includes an all-new 20,000-square-foot showroom building, charging stations for electric vehicles and a reconfigured lot for outdoor car displays.
By the end of the month, Briggs’ Dodge/Chrysler dealership is expected to move into its new location, which is on the western edge of the Auto Plaza, where 29th Terrace and Four Wheel Drive intersect. It is where the Nissan dealership previously was located.
Both of those projects are in addition to the Briggs Subaru dealership, which was completed last year in the Lawrence Auto Plaza. All told, improvements to the Auto Plaza by Briggs probably are near the $4 million mark at this point.
Neyman says the company recently added what it thinks will become a new South Iowa landmark: a new time and temperature sign that he says is the tallest sign in Lawrence. I haven’t seen it yet, so I don’t know exactly how big we’re talking about. But I know that the Briggs folks like the idea of having an aerial structure that draws a lot of attention. As part of the original development plan, Briggs was planning on adding a wind turbine to the Auto Plaza. Neyman said he thinks that is still in the future plans, but I don’t have any word yet on when that may happen.