Plans for a significant new West Lawrence shopping area have cleared their first hurdle.
Lawrence-Douglas County Planning commissioners on Monday night unanimously approved the rezoning and preliminary plat for the Langston Commons project, which is slated for the northeast corner of where the South Lawrence Trafficway intersects with Bob Billings Parkway.
As we reported last month, a local development group is moving forward with the project now that the state has committed to build an estimated $17 million interchange at the Bob Billings and SLT intersection.
Lawrence-based urban planner Tim Herndon has drawn up a pair of concept plans for the 17-acre commercial site. One includes a 60,000-square-foot grocery store building, with space for five other smaller commercial buildings. The second calls for a 30,000-square-foot speciality grocer or retail building, with room for seven other buildings ranging in size from about 15,000 square feet to a couple of thousand square feet.
Planning commissioners last night didn't have to pick between the two concept plans. Rather, the commission just recommended approval of the commercial zoning. More detailed plans on the commercial development will be filed as tenants start to emerge.
The last time I talked with the development group, it didn't have any tenants lined up for the development, but was optimistic the area would draw strong interest as the thousands of new vehicles per day start traveling by the area when the interchange opens by 2016.
Herndon, when I talked with him last month, even threw out the ever-elusive names of Red Lobster and Olive Garden. Now, put your lobster cracker down, because he mainly was just talking about the type of businesses the development will try to attract, not ones that have expressed an interest. But the development group will be aiming to impress because the new shopping center is expected to be an entry point for large numbers of people coming to the KU campus from the west. (But really, put that lobster cracker tool down. You're making me nervous.)
The development also includes about 14 acres of residential development. According to documents from the planning department, plans call for 29 units of single-family housing, 14 duplexes, and a mix of 34 row houses and apartment units.
City commissioners will be asked to give final approval to the rezoning requests in the next several weeks.
And, hey, take off that Red Lobster bib. It's way too early for that.