City to consider approval of proposed housing development southeast of Sixth and SLT, near Langston Hughes Elementary
City commissioners tonight will debate a somewhat controversial development project near the corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway, and this one doesn’t involve a recreation center.
Commissioners at their 6:35 p.m. meeting today will consider plans for a new housing and apartment development on about 27.5 acres of ground southeast of the Sixth Street and SLT interchange.
More specifically, the project is just west of the area commonly known as the Diamondhead subdivision. On the off chance that you are not a planner or a taxicab driver, and therefore don’t know the names of subdivisions (yes, taxicab drivers know that and much more) the area is on the east edge of the South Lawrence Trafficway. It is just a bit northwest of Langston Hughes Elementary.
The project proposes 52 single-family homes, 22 duplexes and 86 apartment units on the 27.5 acres. This project has definitely gone through the sausage making process, as neighbors objected to the amount of duplex zoning that was proposed in the project late last year. Developers responded by cutting the number of duplexes by more than 50 percent, but they were replaced by 23 single-family homes that will be built on smaller-than-average 5,000-square-foot lots.
The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission on a 6-3 vote recommended approval of the project. City commissioners will have the final say on it tonight.
The project is interesting enough in itself, but the more interesting issue is how this entire area near Sixth and the SLT may take off in the near future. There is obviously the $75 million worth of improvements being contemplated across the street at Rock Chalk Park. That tends to wake up developers and land speculators.
But perhaps an even larger factor is the pending completion of not only the South Lawrence Trafficway but a new Bob Billings Parkway interchange on the SLT. The Bob Billings interchange is south of this property.
Below is a picture from the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Office that shows the land between Sixth Street and Bob Billings Parkway, bordered by the South Lawrence Trafficway on the west. Look at how much undeveloped land is out there.
The chart to the left of the drawing shows what the land is currently zoned for, and then lists — theoretically — how many housing units could be built in that zoning category. If you total it all up, there is theoretically zoning in place for about 1,300 new homes or apartments in the area.
Plus, that includes two pieces of land that aren’t zoned for anything. Two development groups — Alvamar Inc. and the Diamondhead group — own about 50 acres that are zoned as urban reserve, meaning it will get some sort of residential or commercial zoning in the future.
Commercial zoning certainly is a possibility in the area. Diamondhead owns 31 acres immediately south of Sixth Street at the Sixth and SLT interchange. It will be interesting to see if that property ever gets into the discussion about locations to build more retail to serve the proposed Rock Chalk Park development.
Alavamar also has about 12 acres zoned for commercial uses at the northeast corner of where the Bob Billings and SLT interchange will be built. That also will be an interesting piece of property to keep an eye on.
But perhaps the most interesting land owner in the area is the Lawrence school district. In addition to the property it owns for Langston Hughes Elementary, it also owns about 35 acres surrounding the school. The property is zoned for residential development. The school district, of course, may want to hang onto it for school expansion. But if it decides it isn’t need for such, I’m sure it won’t have a problem finding a buyer for the property.
Anyway, commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. today to discuss the Langston Heights development. Here’s guessing that it will be the first of many discussions about development for the area in the coming months and years.
New York-based company confirms it has bought Naismith Hall and plans renovations; other real estate sales for the week
As we previously reported in Town Talk, all the signs were indicating that the major national apartment firm The Bromley Companies had purchased the large, privately owned student residence hall at the northeast cover of 19th Street and Naismith Drive.
Well, the New York-based company has now confirmed it. In a press release, the company said it has purchased the 504-bed Naismith Hall and plans some major renovations.
“It is an attractive, well-located building that has housed over 20,000 University of Kansas students over the years, and we plan to make a significant capital investment to transform the common areas and student rooms into exciting, fun, modern spaces for future generations of KU students.”
The company in 2013 plans to renovate the lobby to create a new lounge, study area, eating area and exercise area. Plans also include a multiyear project to modernize student rooms. Part of the renovations will focus on expanding wireless Internet connections throughout the building and upgrading broadband speeds, the company said.
After last night’s basketball game, I wonder if there are some flat screen TVs to replace as well.
According to property records, a Miami Beach-based company previously owned Naismith Hall.
As far as other land transfers, I have the list for the week ending Jan. 28. Click here to see it. There’s not much to report that we haven’t already mentioned before.
It does appear several deals we have reported on got finalized in the week. Investors in the Poehler Lofts building in East Lawrence purchased from longtime Lawrence property owner Harold Shepard additional land just south of the building for a possible second affordable house apartment project. And Genesis Health Clubs also completed its deal to buy the real estate of the former Lawrence Athletic Club from the lender that had taken over the property.
Another week means another week of real estate sales and land transfers as recorded by our friends down at the Douglas County Courthouse.
Nothing too much to report on the commercial front this week, but click here to see the complete list of property sales for the week ending Jan. 21.
One listing of note did take place in downtown Lawrence. The weekly report lists the buildings at 930, 932 and 934 Massachusetts St. sold from Round Corner Building Corp., which was led by the late Lawrence businessman James Salyer, to CNH LLC, which is led by Lawrence businessman Doug Compton.
The building is the large multitenant building that includes Minsky’s Pizza, The Yarn Barn and several professional service offices. The ownership change really isn’t all that new. Compton has controlled the buildings for quite some time. According to the filings at the courthouse, his group was buying the building on contract, and this most recent listing just signifies the completion of that transaction.
New $16M water plant project buying more land; signs of change at Naismith Hall student dorms; and other property sales for the week
Another week and another set of property sales and land transfers to review.
This week, water and student housing (I don’t recall that being the most popular beverage in student housing, by the way) are subjects that stand out from the list of recent sales.
Before we get to that, though, my standard disclaimer: Unless otherwise noted, most of this information is just me relaying information from various public documents from the Douglas County Courthouse and the Kansas Secretary of State’s office. In an effort to be timely, it is not always possible to contact everyone involved. It is not always easy to ascertain what is going on with a property just by looking at the documents, so I would read these listings as a first draft of activity in the local real estate market.
• First, the water: Public Wholesale Water Supply District No. 25 has signed another deal to purchase property for a new water treatment plant between Lawrence and Eudora.
The most recent deal — the largest yet for the district — is for about 25 acres of land near the Kansas River just north of the intersection of North 1500 and East 1750 roads. North 1500 Road is what East 15th Street turns into in the county, and East 1750 Road also is Noria Road.
If you remember, Public Wholesale Water Supply District No. 25 is a fairly new entity that has been formed to provided treated water to other rural water districts, and perhaps entities such as cities, in the future.
Currently, the city of Lawrence is the largest provider of treated water for water districts in the area. The idea for the wholesale district has evolved over the years, in part, because there has been some uneasiness about the terms the city has dictated for its water treatment services.
There’s always been some question, though, whether this new wholesale water district really could get off the ground. But as we reported in May, the project received its financing from the USDA, and the district made its first small land purchase this summer.
This most recent purchase is more substantial. Larry Wray, the leader for the wholesale water district, told me the 25 acres is where the actual treatment plant and well field will be. The district will take its water from wells that are recharged by the nearby Kansas River.
The land purchase is the most visible sign yet that the district is moving full steam ahead with the project. “We’re pretty much at the point where we are saying we are going to build this,” Wray said. “I’m not saying something silly can’t happen to derail it, but we wouldn’t have bought the land if we weren’t going to do this.”
A water plant won’t pop up over night at the site. Wray said there is at least another year’s worth of design. He believes it will be three to four years before a water plant is operational.
That’s in part because construction will be substantial. The two water districts that have signed up for the wholesale district so far are Douglas County Rural Water District No. 5, which serves parts of southern and western Douglas County, and Osage County Rural Water District No. 5. I’ve previously reported the project will involve laying about 30 miles of pipe across the countryside The district will start acquiring easements for that pipeline this year, Wray said.
Wray is estimating the project will have about a $16 million price tag.
What remains to be seen is how substantial the project will be in terms of impacting the city of Lawrence’s business as a wholesale water supplier. The city sells lots of water to rural water districts, and theoretically those sales help hold down the costs the city has to charge to Lawrence water customers.
A few months ago, the city was at risk of losing its largest wholesale water customer, the city of Baldwin City. But a new contract has solidified that relationship. The agreement now limits how much Lawrence can increase the price it charges to Baldwin City.
• Now, student housing: It appears that Naismith Hall, the private student-housing complex at 19th Street and Naismith Drive has sold.
The property transfers show New York-based Bromley Naismith LLC has purchased the property from Miami Beach-based LBUBS 2003-C5 Naismith Drive LLC. (Try saying that when you answer the office phone everyday.)
Bromley Naismith appears to be an entity of Bromley Companies, a large real estate and development company headquartered on Fifth Avenue in New York, according to its Web site. The company for the last 40 years has been involved in private student housing complexes, and touts itself as having the second largest portfolio of “privately held residence halls” in the U.S.
I put a call into Naismith Hall, but a manager wasn’t available to talk. So, I don’t know what, if any, changes may be on the horizon for the property. It looks like the company runs its own food services company to provide dining hall service to all its dormitory properties. According to the company’s Web site, it has about 3,500 residence hall beds at public universities including the University of Illinois, Texas Tech, Ohio University and Northern Illinois.
As for other Lawrence and Douglas County property sales for the week, click here to see the complete list for the week ending Jan. 14.
Another week almost down, which means another week of property sales and land transfers as recorded by the Douglas County Register of Deeds office.
You can click here to see the complete list of sales for the week ending Jan. 7.
There were a few sales of note, but before we get to that, here’s my standard disclaimer: Unless otherwise noted, most of this information is just me relaying information from various public documents from the Douglas County Courthouse and the Kansas Secretary of State’s office. In an effort to be timely, it is not always possible to contact everyone involved. It is not always easy to ascertain what is going on with a property just by looking at documents, so I would read these listings as a first draft of activity in the local real estate market.
Here’s a look at activity of note in this most recent report:
• Significant downtown investment group Jayhawk Equities LLC has sold its property at 1105 and 1107 Massachusetts St. The location houses Its Brothers Bar & Grill. I haven’t heard any word of changes at Its Brothers, so it may just be that the downtown bar is getting a new set of landlords, but we’ll keep an eye on the location. The property was purchased by Georg Heidelmann (no, I didn’t forget the ‘e’) and Kelda Jackson. According to listings on the Web, Heidelmann and Jackson are from Kansas City. Heidelmann has been listed as the president of Kansas City-based Adapt Laser Systems, a company that provides laser cleaning technology to companies across North America.
• A corner property near Ninth and Iowa Streets has changed hands. The property at 845 Iowa St. — which houses The Selection used auto dealership, has been purchased by a group led by Lawrence businessman Doug Compton and other investors. No word on whether there will be a change in use at the site, which was a former Sinclair gasoline station and sat vacant for quite awhile until the used car company opened in early 2011. I believe my memory is correct on this, but I think a group led by Compton owned the site before the auto dealership purchased the property. UPDATE: Bob Sarna at Compton's First Management has told me that this latest transfer is just a step in a transaction that will ultimately put the property under the full ownership of the group that runs The Selection auto dealership. So it looks like the dealership is solidifying its position at the location. This is a good example of why I put the disclaimer at the top of this article, because as the county courthouse officials explained to me, this sale is actually a contract sale, where Compton's group actually already owns the property and is selling to the auto group, but it doesn't necessarily show up that way in the county's land transfer listings.
• A lot of people must have washed their cars recently. That’s the only way to explain why this water has started falling from the sky again. (I can’t remember, what do the weather people call that?) Well, in Eudora, the largest car wash in the city has a new owner. Capital City Bank has sold the car wash at 1428 Church St. to Eudora Car Wash LLC, which is a group led by Lawrence businessman Christopher Wagner.
Land transfers for week ending Dec. 31, including sales of apartment complexes and Massachusetts Street property
As far as New Year’s resolutions go, this one is pretty lame, but I’m going to try to be more consistent in posting weekly Douglas County land transfers. (Yes, it was kind of awkward shouting that resolution as I sprayed Champagne at the crack of midnight while at my neighbor’s New Year’s Eve party.)
Before we get going, though, a disclaimer: Unless otherwise noted, most of this information is just me relaying information from various public documents from the Douglas County Courthouse and the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office. In an effort to be timely, it is not always possible to contact everyone involved. It is not always easy to ascertain what is going on with a property just by looking at the documents, so I would read these listings as a first draft of activity in the local real estate market. On particularly interesting cases, I’ll try to follow up and report back in the coming days.
So, here we go. This week did produce several interesting sales/transfers of note:
• It looks like a California-based company has made a major purchase of several apartment properties owned by companies led by Lawrence businessman Tim Stultz.
The most recent land transfers show that North Creek Investors LLC purchased apartment properties at 4100 W. 24th Place, 1501 George Williams Way, and several addresses in the 400 block of Eisenhower Drive and the 5200 block of Eisenhower Lane, which is in the developing area just north and west of Congressional and Overland drives.
The 1501 George Williams Way property is listed on the Web as the leasing office for the Ironwood Court apartments, while the 4100 W. 24th Place property is listed as the Remington Square Apartments.
As for North Creek Investors LLC, documents from the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office list it as being a multifamily management company based in Walnut Creek, Calif., and managed by businessman Mark D. Hall. I have a call into Tim Stultz, who has been one of the larger apartment developers in the city, to see if he will continue to play a role in the properties.
• It looks like there may be some activity at an old apartment building recently condemned by the city. In October, the city condemned a 24-unit apartment building at 1821 W. 26th St.
According to the land transfers, a new ownership group has purchased that building plus an adjacent apartment building at 1902 W. 26th St. The new group is called BlueJay Apartments Inc. According to documents from the secretary of state, Lawrence businessmen Timothy J. Allen, James H. Bruce and Rex Tedrow are the partners in the group. Previously, the properties were owned by a group led by Tedrow.
• It appears the vacant lot next to the Eldridge Hotel has changed hands. For years that lot has been owned by a group led by Lawrence investor Dale Miller. But according to the land transfers, the property at 705 and 707 Massachusetts Street — which on Google Maps appears to be the vacant lot just south of the hotel — has been transferred to a group led by Lawrence businessman Thomas Fritzel, who also leads the group that owns The Eldridge Hotel.
If you remember back in 2010, the hotel formally proposed an expansion of the Eldridge into the vacant lot. It called for a four-story building, 16 new hotel rooms, a restaurant and banquet space with a retractable roof and other features. But then the project never did materialize. Whether this is a sign that a project may get restarted on the property, I do not know.
• The shopping center that houses Hy-Vee, Applebee's and others at Sixth and Monterey Way showed up in the most recent land transfers. Monterey Partners LLC — which is owned by a group of Kansas City, Mo. trusts, led by the trust of metro area real estate leader Robert Johnson — has transferred the property to a new entity called Lawrence Monterey Investors LLC. That entity is so new that the Secretary of State’s Office only lists Scott Slabotsky, the managing director of the large metro accounting firm CBIZ Kansas City, as the organizer of the company. So, it is hard to know whether there actually has been a true change in ownership out there or whether this is just a corporate accounting thing. I’ll try to find out more in the coming days.
Click here to see a full list of the Douglas County land transfers for the week ending Dec. 31.
New owner plans to convert site of troubled North Lawrence mobile home park into single-family neighborhood
Anybody who has ever done a home improvement project with me knows that sometimes you’ve got to make things look a bit worse before they start looking better. (Chad's unofficial home improvement motto: Heck yeah, we need to tear down that wall.)
That seems to be where a once-troubled mobile home park in North Lawrence finds itself. The former Riverview Trailer Park at 827 Walnut St. is in bits and pieces as salvage crews have started dismantling abandoned mobile homes in order to prepare the site for a new single-family housing development.
Mark Bowden of Bowden Complete Construction LLC confirmed to me that he has finalized a deal to purchase the trailer park, which the city cited with multiple sanitation and environmental code violations in April and shut down in August.
But Bowden said he is about to call an end to the salvage part of the operations and bring in heavy equipment to finish the job.
“A day with a big loader out there is going to make the place look a lot better,” Bowden said.
He anticipates cleanup will be completed by Monday. After that, work will begin on creating a new set of plans for the property. Those plans will include building a cul-de-sac through the middle of the property and building 11 single-family homes along the new stretch of road.
Bowden said he anticipates the new houses will be three-bedroom, two-bath homes with two-car garages, and will be priced in the $120,000 range.
“We think they are going to fly off the shelf,” Bowden said.
The new neighborhood will continue a trend of the area — which is near the eastern portion of North Lawrence’s Kansas River levee — becoming a hub for starter housing. Lawrence’s Habitat for Humanity several years ago built a single-family starter housing development, the Comfort Neighborhood, just east of Bowden's land.
Folks in that neighborhood ought to welcome the change. The problems at the Riverview Trailer Park had become one of the city’s messier housing problems in recent years. When city inspectors arrived in April, they found some trailers were emptying raw sewage directly onto the ground and children were congregating around the pools of waste. Faulty electrical wiring and large amounts of debris also were common in the approximately 20 trailers at the park.
Eventually, the city declared that the mobile home park no longer had a valid city permit to operate, and ordered the park closed. By August, all residents had moved out, but left behind were most of the deteriorating trailers, and often piles of discarded personal possessions ranging from old couches to broken toys, and even a toilet on a front porch.
City officials were contemplating undertaking the expense to clean up the property, and hoping to recoup their costs through special assessments placed on future property tax bills. But the city held up on taking that action as it became clear that the mobile home site was drawing interest from potential buyers.
Bowden is paying the cost of cleaning up the property. The property previously was owned by George Warren, a California-based investor. Terms of the recent sale of the park weren’t disclosed, but we previously had reported that the approximately 1-acre tract was on the market for about $190,000.
My understanding is the property already is zoned to accommodate the proposed single-family housing development, but city planners will have to approve specific plans for the development. He said he hopes to start building houses by June.
Perhaps you noticed that the recently-published list of top construction projects in Lawrence included two $1 million-plus homes.
Well, here’s another sign that the big wheels in the Lawrence real estate market may be starting to turn again:
The developers of the Fall Creek Farms project — one of the more exclusive neighborhoods in the city — are ready to start a new phase of development for the first time in about a decade. Plans call for about 70 new lots to be opened up.
The development is just south and west of Kasold Drive and Peterson Road, and it has its fair share of million-dollar homes. Some of the city’s top executives have called the neighborhood home, and KU men’s basketball coach Bill Self once did as well.
Now the development group, which is led by longtime builder Gene Fritzel, plans to open up four new mini-neighborhoods within the development, and several of them will come in at price points less than what Fall Creek has become known for.
John Esau and Carl Cline of the Lawrence branch of Keller Williams Real Estate are marketing the property. Esau said the development is offering lots to builders in four different price ranges:
• $55,000 to $65,000 lots for homes in the $350,000 to $450,000 range.
• $65,000 to $75,000 lots with homes in the $400,000 to $650,000 range.
• $100,000 to $125,000 lots for homes in the $650,000 to $1 million range
• $165,000 and up lots with homes above the $1 million mark.
If you have been in the Fall Creek Farms neighborhood, you might remember that there is a roundabout near the center of the development. Esau said the new construction will take place west of that roundabout and will stretch all the way to Monterey Way. Streets and utilities already have been installed for the new phase of development. In fact, the streets have been there largely unused for a number of years.
Esau said the timing seems to be right for the new development. He’s convinced that pent-up demand in the Lawrence real estate market is starting to surface.
“We’re hearing from customers that they want to build,” Esau said. “There is some renewed confidence. People have sat through three or four years of uncertainty or decline, and now they are realizing that if they are ever going to do this, now is the time.”
The most recent building permits numbers we reported showed that through November home building has increased by about 30 percent from the dismal totals of the past few years.
Real estate sales numbers also are showing some signs of improvement. The latest numbers I have are through October. They show total home sales are up 26.5 percent from the same period a year ago. In all, local agents have sold 784 homes this year. Sales of newly constructed homes are up 27.3 percent, totaling 70 sales for the year. The only down number is one that buyers probably won’t mind: Selling prices are down significantly. The median sale price on a home is down 5.9 percent to $158,250. Selling prices for newly constructed homes, however, are up 8.6 percent to an average of $265,000.
I should be getting November sales numbers in another week or so.