From a food hall to an ice rink, new details emerge about proposed redevelopment near Sixth and Mass

photo by: 3D Development/City of Lawrence

A rendering of proposed redevelopment for the former Journal-World production facility in downtown Lawrence is shown.

The north end of downtown Lawrence soon may have everything from ice skating to a food hall full of small restaurants.

And to make it more unique, it would all be in the same spot. (I’m already dangerous on skates, but if I have a fork and knife in my hand, I’m going to have to increase my insurance policy.)

The proposed developer of a major project to convert the former Journal-World printing plant near Sixth and Massachusetts and Sixth and New Hampshire streets into a new commercial and office development shared more details about the project with a group of downtown business leaders on Friday.

He told the crowd that in addition to an approximately 20,000-square-foot outdoor courtyard, which the Journal-World reported on earlier this month, the project also is expected to have about a 12,000-square-foot indoor event space that will double as a daily food hall for small-scale restaurants.

“I just think it is going to be a great gathering place,” Vince Bryant, owner of Kansas City-based 3D Development, told the Journal-World after a Downtown Lawrence Inc. meeting Friday morning. “We love the character of downtown Lawrence — mom-and-pop, smaller venues, intimate atmospheres. But what we lack, what we need, what we want is a gathering place.”

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

A rendering of a proposed courtyard and open air entertainment area proposed for a portion of the former Journal-World printing plant property near Sixth and New Hampshire streets is shown. The rendering was shown to Downtown Lawrence Inc. members as part of a presentation regarding the proposed redevelopment of the former Journal-World printing plant property.

Bryant said his company would bring in an entity that specializes in managing event spaces to ensure that the indoor and outdoor spaces of the project are heavily used, and used in unique ways.

And yes, that could mean ice skating.

Bryant on multiple occasions Friday morning mentioned that the outdoor courtyard area could be used for ice skating. His company, which has multiple properties in the Crossroads District of Kansas City, likes creating unique entertainment options. In KCMO, one of his more recent developments includes a 150-foot-tall Ferris wheel.

“We are not going to have one of those here, though,” he said.

But the courtyard could host a lot of different events. Bryant said there is the possibility for turf to be installed in portions of it that could allow for some small-scale games and recreation, or the space could pivot a different direction and host mini farmers markets or art shows, he said.

A very likely use will be game-day watch parties. He said the space would be very “TV-oriented,” including a large LED screen.

“You have the whole sports entertainment component with the screens and all that, and we hope to activate the courtyard with ice skating in the winter,” Bryant said. “We’ll have turf for games and recreation, and the stage can be for music, speakers, corporate events, fraternity and sorority parties. There’s just a lot of opportunities to activate that space.”

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

Vince Bryant, owner of 3D Development, talks to members of Downtown Lawrence Inc. on Friday morning at a meeting at Sunflower Outdoor & Bike Shop.

As we reported earlier, the courtyard would actually exist inside the walls of the former Journal-World building. The development plans call for the roof to removed from about 20,000 square feet of the 70,000-square-foot building to create the outdoor component of the courtyard.

But what wasn’t clear from the plans filed with the city earlier this month was that a sizable amount of indoor space also would be devoted to events. Bryant said about 12,000 square feet of space would be available for a combination event space and food hall concept. That space will have a “grand entrance” off of Massachusetts Street.

That indoor space will be ringed with multiple “kitchen kiosks,” which Bryant described as approximately 800-square-foot kitchens that will be leased at a fraction of the price that is required for a full-scale restaurant.

“It allows us to get culinary talent in when maybe they aren’t ready for a brick-and-mortar restaurant,” Bryant said.

Of course, the project will have one large traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant. As we reported earlier this month, the Kansas City barbecue restaurant Q39 has signed on to be an anchor tenant for the project.

Q39 CEO Kelly Magee told the crowd she’s fully committed to the project. The restaurant actually will buy about 7,000 square feet of space in the development, rather than simply leasing the property.

The restaurant will be in the former loading dock area of the Journal-World plant, with its main entrance along New Hampshire Street. But Magee said plans call for a pedestrian corridor to be established between the restaurant and Massachusetts Street. That would require the use of a portion of the alleyway, which would be revamped. If approved by the city, that would allow not only a walkway, but would make the restaurant slightly visible from Massachusetts Street.

The main entrance would be on New Hampshire Street, and a portion of the New Hampshire Street frontage would be used to house about a 7,000-square-foot outdoor flex-space that could be used for outdoor dining or other events.

Magee said Q39 has been interested in expanding into Lawrence for quite some time. She’s a 1988 KU graduate, has two children at KU currently, and her parents already live in Lawrence.

Plus, she’s seen plenty of indications the restaurant’s “chef-driven, competition style” barbecue will be a hit in the market.

“We have a lot of data, and it shows we get a lot of traffic from Lawrence already,” Magee said of its two restaurants in the KC metro.

Magee hopes to have the restaurant open by October, but the project must still win approvals from the city. The plan calls for about a 750-square-foot addition to the building, which will have to meet city design approvals, which are significant due to downtown’s status as a historic district.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

A rendering, produced by Herron + Partners architects, shows what the Q39 restaurant would look like along New Hampshire Street. The rendering was shown to Downtown Lawrence Inc. members as part of a presentation regarding the proposed redevelopment of the former Journal-World printing plant property.

Other details from Friday’s presentation :

• Bryant has a signed lease for one office user that will take two stories of office space along Massachusetts Street. Bryant said he believes the business — which he would not yet name — could bring up to 100 jobs to downtown. He said the company currently is discussing the possibility of leasing parking spaces from the city in the nearby 430-space Riverfront parking garage, which is just east of City Hall and is across the street from this development.

• The project also has about 10,000 square feet of additional office space available along Massachusetts Street. A bank has expressed interest in the spot, but no deal has been reached. The space would accommodate traditional offices as well, Bryant said. About six smaller office spaces also will be available on the New Hampshire side of the project. Those second-floor spaces would be in the area that used to house the Journal-World’s executive suites. In total, Bryant thinks the development could house 150 to 200 daytime office workers, which he said would help make daytime operations of the food hall more viable.

• Developers envision a coffee shop or cafe on the ground floor of the New Hampshire Street side of the project. That cafe would be beneath the six smaller office spots.

• Plans call for a “pocket park” to be created near the corner of Sixth and Massachusetts streets. A small loading dock area has existed near that corner, and Bryant said the area could be converted into landscaped outdoor space for tenants and visitors of the project to use.

• The project may attract additional development to the northern end of downtown. Bryant said he has been reaching out to residential developers to ensure they are aware of the project. He said he could envision some of the property east of New Hampshire Street drawing interest from residential developers.

Matt Gilhousen, a Lawrence resident who was an owner and founder of a large Kansas City-area renewable energy company, told the crowd that he hopes to bring unique development to the former Reuter Organ building across the street from the project. Gilhousen owns the property, and he said his dream development for the building is a business incubator for startup firms that are involved in green energy or other similar green technology sectors.

• The project to redevelop the former Journal-World site will need several approvals from the city, with the City Commission serving as the final authority on the approvals. Those approvals could include a request for financial incentives from the city. Bryant said the project might apply for Community Improvement District status, which would allow the project to levy a special sales tax that would be used to help pay for some improvements on the property.

Editor’s note: The Journal-World has no involvement in the project. The newspaper does not own any portion of the former Journal-World plant. That property was retained by the former owners of the newspaper.


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