As 23rd Street shopping center prepares to be demolished, businesses are on the move

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

The existing shopping center at 1401 W. 23rd Street would be razed as part of the plan to develop a new three-story apartment and retail building on the site.

A shopping center is getting torn down, businesses are on the move, and an old barbecue joint will be offering up new lessons. All this is to say, I’ve got updates on a trio of 23rd Street businesses that soon will have new homes.

As we reported last month, plans have been filed to tear down the shopping center at 1401 W. 23rd St. and replace it with a multistory apartment and retail building. That has businesses in the shopping center on the move, and the first one to land in a new location will be Copy Co.

Owner Hossein Gerami told me the business has signed a deal to move into space at 540 Fireside Court in west Lawrence. If you are having a hard time picturing that location, it is basically along Sixth Street, about two blocks east of Sixth and Kasold. It is where the Pella window store previously was located before it moved to the Sixth and Wakarusa area.

540 Fireside Ct, Lawrence, KS 66049

Gerami said Copy Co. plans to be up and running at the new location on March 11. The new space will be about the same size as his current location, and he plans to offer the same services, which includes a variety of printing jobs ranging from postcards to books to posters to engineering drawings.

“Everything will be the same,” Gerami said. “It will just be a new look and a new place, and hopefully, I’ll be better looking.”

Yes, Gerami has kept his sense of humor about the move, which wasn’t exactly on his list of things to do. Copy Co. has been operating on 23rd Street for 27 years. But when the shopping center sold to a redevelopment group, there was no choice but to find a new home. Gerami said he thinks the change will end up being a net positive.

“It is OK. It is good for the city,” he said. “We do need to change the appearance of 23rd Street and make it better. I don’t like to move after 27 years, but it will be good for the city.”

In case you have forgotten, the proposed project at the old shopping center site has been touted as a potential trendsetter for 23rd Street. As traffic volumes have declined on 23rd Street after the opening of the eastern leg of the South Lawrence Trafficway, developers may be looking for more opportunities to convert some retail space into mixed-use developments. Here’s a rendering of the building The Opus Group plans to build at the site.

photo by: Courtesy: The Opus Group and city of Lawrence

Plans call for a three-story apartment and retail building to take the place of a shopping center at 1401 W. 23rd St.

1401 W 23rd St, Lawrence, KS 66046

• UNI Computers, which is the next-door neighbor to Copy Co., also plans to move to western Lawrence. It is moving into the space currently occupied by Sylvan Learning Center at 4920 Legends Drive. More on Sylvan’s future plans in just a moment.

UNI plans to be open by May 1 in the new space, said Adam Mead, a store manager with UNI. He said the new location will have less of a retail showroom than the current location, but will be better set up to do the sales and service work that has become a big part of UNI’s business.

“We are excited because when you get into different space, it is easier to readjust it for what you are doing today,” Mead said.

4920 Legends Dr, Lawrence, KS 66049

The company, which has been on 23rd Street for more than 10 years, fixes a lot of computers and also sells refurbished machines, plus makes some speciality computers.

“We build a lot of gaming machines for college kids,” Mead said.

The company also has created a business support unit, which basically functions as the IT department for companies that don’t have their own IT departments.

• I did check in with Party America, one of the other large businesses in the 23rd Street shopping center. An employee told me the company has not yet found a new location in Lawrence, although she seemed to think the company was still looking for one. So, that’s a business to keep an eye on.

• One business in the shopping center does appear to have called it quits. Fat Freddy’s Pizza & Wings has closed, according to a post on its Facebook page. It made no mention of finding another location in Lawrence.

• Yes, Sylvan Learning Center also is on the move. It is moving into the former Dickey’s Barbecue Pit location at Sixth and Wakarusa. That makes sense, as some of the wisest statements I’ve heard have been at barbecue restaurants. (Top 3: 1. Cook it low and slow. 2. True barbecue has sauce on the side. 3. “Sir, you need a shower, not a wet wipe.”)

In case you have forgotten, Dickey’s was in the shopping center on the southwest corner of Sixth and Wakarusa Drive, in space near Johnny’s West. Sylvan has been in the Legends Drive location for the last 20 years, but it is ready to move into space that will be slightly smaller but quite a bit more visible.

721 Wakarusa Dr, Lawrence, KS 66049

“We are excited to be a little closer to Free State High School, for sure,” said Jamie Webb, director of the Lawrence center.

Sylvan provides tutoring and other instruction help both on the remedial level and the enrichment level.

Webb said the business, which has about a dozen part-time instructors in subjects such as reading, math, ACT and SAT prep courses and study skills, plans to be operating out of the new space before the end of February.


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