Lawrence school board to consider development incentives for Turnhalle building, following recent approval by city and county

photo by: Austin Hornbostel

The Turnhalle is pictured Jan. 24, 2024, at 900 Rhode Island St.

The Lawrence school board on Monday will consider whether to grant development incentives for a project that would convert the historic Turnhalle building into an event space and restaurant — incentives that have already been approved by the city and county commissions.

Turnhalle, at 900 Rhode Island St., was built in 1869 and was once home to the Lawrence chapter of Turnverein, a longtime German club, although in recent decades it has largely sat empty. As the Journal-World has reported, its owners — Turnhalle LLC, which is led by Lawrence residents Zarif and Mamie Haque — have filed plans to construct a small addition that will aid in converting the first floor of the building into an approximately 300-person event space and the basement into a restaurant.

The incentives package under consideration includes a 15-year, 70% Neighborhood Revitalization Area rebate; Industrial Revenue Bonds; and a 20-year, 2% additional sales tax via a Community Improvement District.

The Neighborhood Revitalization Area rebate and the Industrial Revenue Bonds incentive require the approval of the Lawrence school board in addition to that of the Lawrence City Commission and the Douglas County Commission.

The City Commission gave its approval in a 4-0 vote on Feb. 6, and the County Commission gave its unanimous approval on Feb. 14. The Public Incentives Review Committee had previously unanimously approved the project.

The Neighborhood Revitalization Area would allow for a 70% rebate on only the new elements of the project. Industrial Revenue Bonds would provide a sales tax exemption on construction materials and labor.

The City Commission on Feb. 6 approved the 20-year, 2% additional sales tax via a Community Improvement District, which can be done without county and school board approval.

The school board meets at 6 p.m. Monday at school district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive. The meeting is open to the public and can also be live-streamed on the district’s YouTube channel,


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