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Compton confirms deal to redevelop Allen Press property at 11th and Mass.; Lawrence home sales fall in September

One of downtown Lawrence's more prominent corners may be set to change. Doug Compton this morning confirmed that he's reached a tentative agreement to develop the old Allen Press property at 11th and Massachusetts streets with a multistory apartment and retail building.

The talk confirms speculation that has been running through several real estate circles in town. Compton would not go so far as to confirm the tenant he hopes to land for the ground floor space, but multiple other sources tell me he is working with either the CVS or Walgreens drug store chain.

Compton confirmed he has entered into a partnership with longtime Lawrence businessman Rand Allen to develop all the property that Allen owns near the downtown intersection. The property currently includes a parking lot at the northeast corner of 11th and Massachusetts. It also includes a largely vacant industrial building that has frontage on both New Hampshire and Massachusetts streets.

Compton said his plans call for a seven-story building that will include space for 120 apartments above the ground-floor retail space. Underground parking for at least 120 vehicles would be constructed beneath the building. The building would stretch from a point just south of the Einstein Bagel store to the corner of 11th and Massachusetts.

"It is going to be a tall building," Compton said at a Lawrence Chamber of Commerce event this morning. "It has to be a tall building to make it work."

Compton said the project will be similar in size and scope to the multistory buildings that his company is building at Ninth and New Hampshire streets.

As for the retail tenant, Compton said he's received one round of approval from the national retailer, and he hopes to receive a final approval by mid-November.

If a deal with a tenant is struck next month, Compton said he would need to be able to deliver the building by 2016. Compton's most recent project, a multistory building hotel and retail building at Ninth and New Hampshire, took nearly two years to get City Hall approval.

"I'm hopeful the approval process will be easier than it was with the hotel project," Compton said.

Unlike the hotel project, this development won't abut a residential neighborhood. But the project will be right across the street from one of the more historically significant buildings in downtown — the Douglas County Courthouse, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Look for a more complete story on this news later today.

In other news and notes from around town:

• Maybe everybody was too fascinated with the start of the KU football season, or maybe everybody was glued to their TVs watching CNN or FOX's coverage of the impending government shutdown, or maybe it simply was just time for Lawrence's real estate market to have an off month.

Whatever the case, the latest report from the Lawrence Board of Realtors shows Lawrence home sales fell 8 percent in September compared to the same time period a year ago. The decline ended a streak of 17 straight months of increasing home sales in Lawrence.

But home sales are still way up for the year, and officials with the Realtors board didn't seem too concerned about the one-month decline. Surprisingly, they didn't attribute it to the city being gripped with Kansas University football fever. (There was a definite fever at Saturday's game — the type that comes with typhoid.)

Instead, they said interest rates did rise some in September as market-makers became concerned about the potential government shutdown at the beginning of October. Such uncertainty usually doesn't do good things for the home buying market.

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