Lawrence leaders could vote to continue hearing on Turnhalle building development incentives in early 2024

photo by: Rochelle Valverde/Journal-World

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., is pictured on Jan. 31, 2023.

A hearing to determine whether Lawrence leaders will grant development incentives to a project involving one of the oldest buildings in town could be pushed back until after the start of the new year.

At this week’s Lawrence City Commission meeting, commissioners will once again take up a public hearing on the establishment of a Neighborhood Revitalization Area and Community Improvement District at 900 Rhode Island St., the Turnhalle building. The City Commission continued the hearing back in mid-September until this week’s meeting so that a third-party analysis could determine how much assistance the project needs.

Now, city staff is recommending that commissioners vote to continue the public hearing once again, this time until Jan. 16, 2024. Per a report included with this week’s agenda materials, that’s because the completion of the third-party analysis has been delayed and it won’t be ready until January.

As the Journal-World has reported, a project has been in the works since early this year to convert the Turnhalle building at the southeast corner of Ninth and Rhode Island streets into an event hall and restaurant.

That project in September sought a 15-year, 85% NRA property tax rebate, the creation of a Community Improvement District to charge an additional 2% sales tax for 20 years and the issuance of Industrial Revenue Bonds for the purpose of obtaining a sales tax exemption on project materials and labor. It’s unclear how that development package might change once the third-party analysis is complete.

In other business, commissioners will:

• Receive an update from Lawrence Police Chief Rich Lockhart about the Lawrence Police Department’s use of a “purpose driven policing strategy.”

According to Tuesday’s meeting agenda, such a strategy will focus efforts on responding to emergency calls for service, problem solving and building community relationships. The presentation will take place during a work session, which means commissioners won’t take any action at the meeting.

The Lawrence City Commission will convene at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.


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