Planning Commission recommends against south Lawrence shopping center and apartment complex

photo by: Nick Krug

Kansas Highway 10, or the South Lawrence Trafficway, is shown at the U.S. 59 Highway/Iowa Street interchange in this file photo from June 2017.

The local planning board is recommending against various land use changes needed for a long-debated shopping center proposed for just south of the South Lawrence Trafficway.

As part of its meeting Monday, the Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend the denial of various planning and zoning changes that would allow for the KTen Crossing shopping center and apartment complex to be built.

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Planning Commissioner Karen Willey said that she was completely uncomfortable putting forward a project of such a large size in the current economic downturn related to the coronavirus pandemic, and other commissioners agreed. Willey said retail is already struggling, and that the project would only add more retail and, in her opinion, would hurt Lawrence’s downtown.

“This is not a responsible thing to be adding to our economy at the moment,” Willey said.

The commission considered several items related to the mixed-use retail, hotel, office and residential project, which developers would like to build on what is currently farmland just south of the U.S. Highway 59 interchange with Kansas Highway 10. Some of the major concerns among the commissioners were whether there is demand in the local market for more retail, office and apartments; the effect of the economic downturn on the viability of project; and the environmental impact of the project, which is proposed to be built near the Baker Wetlands.

More specifically, the items under consideration comprised an amendment to the comprehensive plan, an annexation request and five rezoning requests. The amendment to the comprehensive plan would have been needed to move forward on the other requests, and the commission also voted unanimously to recommend the denial of all the other land use requests.

The needed amendment to the comprehensive plan would have to be made specifically to the Southern Development Plan, which was one of several plans that were created before the comprehensive plan but were incorporated by reference. Commission Chair Jim Carpenter noted that the commission has previously declined to take action on projects that go against a standing area plan without first considering the area plan as a whole.

The planning commission’s recommendation will be sent to the City Commission for consideration. The comprehensive plan amendment will also be sent to the Douglas County Commission.


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