WRITER: Chad Lawhorn

New report shows how much retail has shrunk in downtown Lawrence; citywide vacancy rates also calculated

If you were to take a stroll in downtown Lawrence in 2006, a little more than two out of every five businesses you passed would have been a retail shop. Today, roughly two out of every 10 that you pass will be a retailer. So, no, your eyes are not lying. Downtown is different these days. A new city report found downtown’s vacancy rate is higher than it has been in years, and even when the district is full, ...

Lawrence private school begins $5.4 million expansion along Clinton Parkway

When I was in school, I always was nervous to have class in one of those portable trailers. Too many of my teachers had a pickup truck with a hitch. The students at Bishop Seabury may not have the same anxiety, but, regardless, they soon won’t have to deal with those portable classrooms. The Lawrence private school has started construction on a multimillion-dollar expansion. We reported in April that ...

Downtown Grinders restaurant closes, but vows to reopen with new vibe; south Iowa Street chicken chain shuts its doors

If you want to scare a significant portion of the Lawrence population, tell them their city is beginning to look like Kansas City. That has been an attitude for a long time in Lawrence, and perhaps it has played a role in the recent closing of a downtown restaurant. Grinders — owned by a hip K.C. restaurateur — has closed its location at 733 New Hampshire St. In a Facebook post, owner Jeffrey “Stretch” ...

Tamales of all types to be focus of new restaurant slated for Ninth Street

You probably have heard of breakfast burritos. But a breakfast tamale? (Caution: Getting the Froot Loops and the milk into the corn husk can be messy.) Actually, look for a new shop that will serve a better version than that. A local restaurant owner has signed a deal to open Mama’s Tamale Shop just outside of the downtown area. Angelina Cruz — along with her husband, Maximo — have reached a deal to open ...

Auto dealer to build new showroom on 23rd Street; ice cream shop on the move and other news and notes

Look for yet another new development in the Lawrence auto industry. Laird Noller Automotive has filed plans to build an additional used car showroom on 23rd Street. The longtime Lawrence dealership has filed plans to build an approximately 3,000 square-foot used car showroom on a largely empty lot across the street from its Ford, Lincoln and Mazda dealerships near 23rd and Alabama streets. “We just need ...

Latest sales tax numbers indicate online shopping still soaring in Lawrence

I have heard that people sometimes have one identity in the real world and another online. Maybe that is happening in Lawrence. In the real world, we’ve been a bunch of spendthrifts thus far in 2019. But online, our purchases are melting credit cards across the city. The city recently received its sixth of 12 monthly sales tax checks from the state, with this one largely capturing sales that were made in ...

An exit interview with departing City Manager Tom Markus

We are really nice but not that rich. That is one takeaway I had from my final interview with Lawrence City Manager Tom Markus as he ended his tenure at City Hall last week. Markus noticed the Lawrence friendliness in the grocery store and other places where he was out and about around the community. Markus, who has been in public administration since 1973 and most recently came to Lawrence after serving in ...

New Census numbers show county's older population growing, while younger population begins to shrink; county becoming more racially diverse

Douglas County residents, if your cabinets have a growing amount of Metamucil in them, don’t feel bad. New government statistics show the county is becoming a much older place. But the younger folks must not like our pockets full of Werther’s candy because the same statistics show the county is in the beginning stages of losing its important 18- to 24-year-old population. The Census Bureau recently ...

Bioscience company files plans to expand its North Lawrence headquarters

A Lawrence company that focuses on making particles smaller needs its space to get bigger to keep up with its quest to help deliver cancer-fighting drugs to the pharmaceutical market. CritiTech — a biotech firm that Lawrence leaders long have circled as a company that could grow into a local high-tech success story — has filed plans with the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Office to expand its North ...

Concrete barriers and graffiti pop up in downtown following denial of Hub project

It is not exactly the Berlin Wall, but some chunks of concrete in downtown Lawrence are drawing some scorn — and some graffiti. A trio of downtown parking lots owned by Lawrence-based Allen Press recently had concrete barriers — like the type you see in construction zones — installed around their perimeter to block any entrances and exits from the parking lots. The parking lots are part of the proposed ...

Fourth of July celebration in Burcham Park back for another year; Live on Mass concert series also to return to downtown

I know people who will put on a scuba suit, if needed, to set off their July 4 fireworks. Hopefully that won’t be necessary, but either way Lawrence is set to throw another Independence Day party down by the Kansas River. Mike Logan, the owner of The Granada and Abe & Jake’s, has signed up for a second year to organize the Lawrence Go Fourth celebration, which will be an evening party at Burcham Park ...

LMH begins process of looking for partners, but says it won't be selling the hospital; look for local online rankings of doctors

For a long time, Lawrence Memorial Hospital has been like Switzerland. (Calm down, this doesn’t involve chocolate, though it may require a trip to the ER if I keep playing with the Swiss Army knife.) Rather, LMH President and CEO Russ Johnson uses the analogy to explain the hospital’s strategy in dealing with other, often larger, health care companies. “We have never really aligned with or fought with ...

Plans filed for $13 million apartment, commercial building in Warehouse Arts District; Turnhalle building also set for renovation

A long-discussed multimillion-dollar apartment and commercial building for the Warehouse Arts District is again on the front burner. Developer Tony Krsnich confirmed his company this week received formal notice that it has been awarded $6.9 million in affordable housing tax credits for a project he’s calling Penn Street Lofts. As we’ve previously reported, Krsnich has long wanted to build a multistory ...

New auto business to locate along Iowa Street; Menards plans small expansion, but talk of larger project reemerges

News and notes from around town: • It used to be if you wanted to be a delivery driver, a Yugo and your mother’s heating pad to keep the pizza warm was about all you needed. But now, thanks to Amazon and other retailers, everything big and small is getting delivered to your house. That’s probably good news for fleet vehicle companies, which sell those white cargo vans and other such automobiles. One ...

Federal dollars now available for victims of last month's tornado; Realtors, local foundation also set up funds to help

Some low-interest loans — and even some grants — are now available for homeowners, renters and businesses that are facing unexpected costs related to last month’s tornado. President Donald Trump’s decision last week to grant a disaster declaration for seven counties hit by a May 28 tornado and thunderstorms comes with some real money for Douglas County. The declaration means that nearly anyone who has ...

Japanese automaker opens new dealership in Lawrence; deal could help spur development near 23rd and O'Connell

As the old joke goes, I have a fast car. The only thing it can’t pass is a gas station. But even so I’m still having a hard time keeping up with the changes in the Lawrence auto market. The latest news is that Mitsubishi has opened a dealership in Lawrence. Lawrence Mitsubishi has opened right next door to Lawrence Kia at 1219 E. 23rd St. The new dealership comes on the heels of Lawrence-based Dale Willey ...

Smaller yards may be coming to eastern Lawrence neighborhood; group looking to revamp old steel company building

Soon enough, I’ll be wishing for a smaller yard as the dandelions become the size of platters and I have to sharpen the machete every time I want to walk to the garden. Look for a new neighborhood in eastern Lawrence to have small yards, but the idea has a lot more to do with affordable housing than lawn care. Plans have been filed for a first-of-its-kind housing development in Lawrence. It is being touted ...

Photos: 2019 Best of Lawrence celebration

About 850 people attended the annual Best of Lawrence winners reveal party Thursday at Abe & Jake's Landing. Full results can be found at bestoflawrence.com and in a special magazine that will be distributed in subscriber copies of the Sunday, June 16, edition of the Journal-World. More photos - Full photo gallery of attendees and winners (181 images)

Downtown juice cafe reopens, this time with unique cocktails and more food

When I have a pair of people come into my kitchen wearing hazmat suits, I simply dismiss it as another set of complaints about the chili. But for anybody else, the sight can be jarring. It certainly was for the folks at Luckyberry in downtown Lawrence last October. “We were really surprised by a visit from the feds,” said Shantel Grace, co-owner of the business at 845 Massachusetts St. Grace said she was ...

Sales tax collections continue to fall in Lawrence, but online shoppers are picking up some of the slack

Here is a sentence I never thought I would say: Maybe online shopping will save the day. Before my banker keels over, let me quickly add that I still don’t believe that, but it may temporarily save the city’s budget. The latest sales tax numbers for the city of Lawrence are out, and an interesting trend is developing. Sales tax collections in the city are falling in 2019. The May sales tax check the city ...