Posts tagged with Vfw
Burcham Park and the area around it will be one to keep an eye on in the near future.
As we've previously reported, the city's utilities department has a pair of multimillion dollar projects that will go through the park, near Second and Indiana streets close to the Kansas River. The first project is a new water intake pipe to feed the nearby Kaw Water Treatment plant with more river water. The second project is a new water line that will cross the Kansas River and provide a second supply of water to the North Lawrence area.
Work on both of those projects is expected to start by the end of the year, and will cause portions of the park to be closed, in some cases into next summer. In particular, Parks and Recreation officials soon will remove the playground equipment from the park to accommodate construction. But my understanding is that officials will look for a new area in the park to eventually replace the equipment.
Longer term, development in the area could get more interesting. If you remember, the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center has purchased the former VFW property that is adjacent to Burcham Park. That property includes a five- to six-acre pond that is a nice piece of tranquility, but is on private property and difficult to access.
Parks and Recreation leaders, however, have confirmed that Bert Nash officials and leaders of the Outside for a Better Inside group have approached the city about donating the pond to the city for future use as a park. (Bert Nash would keep the rest of the property to use for a possible expansion of facilities in the future.)
The Outside for a Better Inside Group — led by local real estate executive John McGrew — would like to see a trail developed around the pond to promote outdoor activity.
Parks and Recreation officials told me they have an interest in the project, but at the moment, they have more interest than money. But it is the type of project that could fare well in grant competitions. Mark Hecker, assistant director with Parks and Recreation, said the city would like to try to win a couple of grants. That would allow for a trail to be built around the pond, and also for an existing trail between Burcham Park and Constant Park to be significantly improved.
For those of you who slept through the class on Lawrence park names, Constant Park is the largely unimproved park near Sixth and Tennessee streets along the Kansas River. Burcham and Constant are connected by a dirt trail that runs through the woods and along the Kansas River. A new trail could be a regular, improved, concrete trail. I guess since it would be along the river, we could promote it as a riverwalk, if we so desired.
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, the project does have several hurdles to clear. When I checked, there still weren't cost estimates for the project. Plus, city commissioners still haven't signed off on the concept, and importantly, the city would have to compete with other projects to win grant money.
"It is a really cool area, if you can get into it," Hecker said "It is one of those projects that may never happen, or it may start to gain some momentum real soon."
If I've whetted your appetite to talk about parks in Lawrence, mark your calendars for 2 p.m. on Sunday. A group of people will gather at Sesquicentennial Point to socialize and talk about the future of the Point. What's that? Where is the Point? Some of you really did sleep through the class on Lawrence parks. Sesquicentennial Point is below the Clinton Lake Dam. Its entrance is off of Eeast 902 Road, across the street from the city's off-leash dog park.
The area is a beautiful spot on a high piece of ground, but it is largely unimproved except for a stone walkway that commemorates various families, businesses and organizations that played a role in the city's first 150 years. Champions of the point, led by longtime teacher and historian Clenece Hills, always are looking or more groups to donated funds to complete that walkway. Long-term plans have called for an amphitheater at the site.
That project still seems a good distance away. Parks and recreation officials told me their view continues to be that future development at the point will be difficult to do until more infrastructure is in place. That means, water, sewer, and better road access.
"I've also heard some people question if we are going to have an amphitheater whether there is a better location for it in town, like perhaps on the Lied Center property," said Ernie Shaw, the city's leader of the parks and recreation department. "If we get serious about an amphitheater, this is just one location to consider."
More LJWorld City Coverage
I-70 Business Center has new owners; VFW purchases south Massachusetts Street properties; Habitat for Humanity completes land deal
Spring has brought some new activity to the commercial real estate market, according to the lastest report of land transfers from the Douglas County Courthouse. So, let’s get right into some of the more notable deals.
• The I-70 Business Center in North Lawrence — formerly known as the Tanger Outlet Mall — has new ownership. Lawrence Gateway Investors LLC has purchased the property from I-70 Business Center LLC. I-70 Business Center LLC was a group led by several local businessmen, including contractor Bo Harris, retired insurance executive Bob Johnson and North Lawrence commercial property owner Samih Staitieh.
Lawrence Gateway Investors — the new ownership group — is a recently formed company, so documents aren’t yet on file with the state showing the members of that company. But the resident agent for the company is Thomas Boyd, who is a noted real estate agent and developer with the Wichita-based Walter Morris Companies.
The former mall property — which is at the North Lawrence interchange on the Kansas Turnpike — long ago was converted from a retail center to a business center.
The I-70 Business Center group has had good success in finding tenants for the property. For many years the property was largely vacant, but that is no longer the case. The center has three anchor tenants: the corporate headquarters of Protection One security; a call center operated by Home Oxygen 2-U; and the Rezolve Group, a company that provides services for the student loan industry.
“It has been a good property to own,” Johnson told me. “I think it is a better property now than it has ever been. I think the new group bought it because they can see the future in it.”
Johnson confirmed to me that none of the members of the I-70 Business Center LLC was part of the new ownership group, but he said he wasn’t familiar with the principals in the new group. I’ve reached out to Boyd, the Wichita real estate agent, and will report back if I hear anything interesting.
• It looks like the Lawrence VFW Post has shifted gears on its plans for a new facility. The Alford-Clarke Post #852 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars has purchased 1741 and 1801 Massachusetts St. from Bruce Banning. That’s the former location for Bambinos Italian Restaurant and the current location for Beat the Bookstore.
The purchase comes after the VFW had filed plans with City Hall to build a new club near 27th and Haskell in eastern Lawrence. But as we reported a couple of months ago, VFW leaders said they also were looking at other locations. Now we know what other location they were looking at.
The group has filed a site plan to use the former Bambinos building for its clubhouse. It hasn’t filed any plans for the Beat the Bookstore building. I’ve got a call in the VFW post, but haven’t yet heard back. A member of the VFW told me the plan that has been described to members involves using the former Bambinos property as the bar and club for the facility, and the Beat the Bookstore property would continue to be leased to the bookstore or other businesses in the future to generate revenue for the VFW. I’ll let you know if a VFW provides me new information.
• Lawrence’s Habitat for Humanity has made a purchase that gives the nonprofit a multi-year supply of housing lots in eastern Lawrence. Habitat for Humanity purchased nine vacant lots from Steven George near 17th and Lindenwood. Lawrence’s Habitat for Humanity has been building about three to four homes per year, said Lindsey Slater, community outreach coordinator for the organization. Habitat was looking for more property, in part, because it has only two available lots left in the Comfort Neighborhood in North Lawrence.
Slater said George donated a portion of each lot to Habitat in order to help make the purchase financially feasible for the organization. Habitat builds affordable housing for families that meet certain income guidelines and who are willing to invest “sweat equity” by helping build the home and others for Habitat.
“We’re really targeting hardworking families that wouldn’t be able to qualify for a traditional home loan otherwise,” Slater said.
• To see a complete list of the land transfers for the week ending April 8, click here.