Business deal may force closing of The Crossing

Building that houses bar sold, may become mixed-use development

Kansas University students and professors thirsting for an after-school beer may soon have to look farther down the road.

The property containing the popular campus watering hole The Crossing got a new owner Monday and, along with it, a new plan for the corner of 12th and Indiana streets.

Manhattan lawyer Robert Pottroff bought the property from former owner Leita Martin for an estimated $450,000 with plans to turn the site into a mixed-use development complete with residential, retail and commercial tenants.

“I’m working frantically to build a plan that works with everybody’s expectation,” Pottroff, a 1979 KU Law School graduate, said of his desire to have a development that meets the approval of the city and neighbors, including the university.

The Crossing, 618 W. 12th St., a longtime college bar and Lawrence institution, may be closing because the building was purchased by a Manhattan lawyer who has plans for a new mixed-use development.

The tentative plan, Pottroff said, would include razing the current structures and replacing them with a single, mixed-use building that would act as a gateway to the university. The building would likely be called “The Rock Chalk,” he said.

But whether those plans include space for The Crossing – an early incarnation of which was called the Rock Chalk Cafe – remains uncertain.

The bar business, which does not include the building, was for sale before Pottroff bought the property. And a pending sale of The Crossing has become complicated by the change in building ownership.

Andrew Lynn, a partner in Beanie’s Crossing LLC, said he’s now having second thoughts about his group’s potential deal to purchase the bar from current owner Dave Boulter.

“We were going to continue the business as-is,” Lynn said.

But it is unclear what might happen with the bar’s lease because the property has changed hands, Lynn said.

Without some kind of an extended lease in place, Lynn said buying the bar probably wouldn’t be worth it. The current lease on the property was signed by Martin and Boulter, but it may not hold under the new owner.

Boulter said he and The Crossing’s co-owners have their sights on other projects in town and are still looking to sell. But he said he didn’t know what they’d do if Lynn steps away from the deal.

Pottroff said he was working with Lynn’s attorney to hammer out details of The Crossing’s lease.

The development project will also likely hinge on the property next door, owned by Jeff Morrow, which houses Yello Sub and a hair salon. Pottroff wouldn’t comment on his contact with Morrow over the building.

Morrow couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Pottroff said he plans to continue meeting with Lawrence city staff, his architects, Kansas University officials and members of the Oread Neighborhood Assn. to develop options for what kind of a building and occupants are best suited for the property.

He said that he has heard concerns about traffic flow stemming from increased density on the corner, but said he would work closely with the city and the neighborhood to assure that everyone is content with whatever new development is built.

Pottroff wouldn’t speculate about what might eventually happen to The Crossing, except to say that the building currently housing it likely will disappear.

But there’s still some time for a few beers at the campus watering hole.

“You’ll certainly see it open through the next year,” Boulter said.