Another grocery store plans to remodel; new coffee drive-thru coming to west Lawrence; update on Crestline apartment plans
photo by: Courtesy: City of Lawrence and Naos Design Group
Let’s end the year by emptying the notebook of some news and notes from around town:
• I would have thought the most popular improvement project at a grocery store in 2020 was adding a security booth in the toilet paper aisle. But actually, there were quite a few major upgrades to Lawrence grocers in 2020. Just to mention a few: Checkers added a new in-store coffee shop; Target did a complete remodel of its store, including the grocery department; Hy-Vee opened its new in-store pizza concept and other food-to-go offerings and the Dillons at Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive received new flooring, shelving and other interior upgrades.
Well, it looks like that trend will continue into 2021. Plans have been filed for a remodeling of the Dillons store near Sixth Street and Lawrence Avenue. This one may be more noticeable to passersby than the last Dillons project up the road. This one will include a significant amount of exterior renovation as well as interior work.
The plans filed with City Hall call for a new facade for the store, including replacing the old clay tile roof with a modern metal one, a new color scheme for the front of the building, some new stonework, and all-new LED lighting for the parking lot. Interior improvements will include new shelving and fixtures throughout the store, plus other updates to the deli area.
Probably the more significant reason to pass along news of this project is because it is a sign that Dillons remains committed to the Sixth Street corridor. Sixth Street west of Iowa has exploded with grocery stores in recent years, and late 2019 was the breaking point for at least one. If you remember, Hy-Vee closed its Sixth Street store in November 2019. Some were hopeful that 2020 would be the year that a new grocer would occupy that building. Of course, 2020 devoured hope like I intend to devour Doritos while watching college football teams start their water boys, equipment managers and unsuspecting concession stand workers to field teams for the vitally important college bowl season.
Pandemic or not, I’m unsure the thought of a grocery store going into the old Sixth Street Hy-Vee building was ever that likely. Hy-Vee owns that portion of the shopping center, and some people in commercial real estate have told me it would be unlikely that Hy-Vee would agree to sell it to a competitor. Remember, Hy-Vee still has its grocery store on Clinton Parkway. I’ve reached out a few times this year to the commercial real estate brokers who are listing the property to learn more details about whether any such restrictions have been put in place, but to no avail. Whatever the case, the building remains vacant. There was some talk in real estate circles a few months ago that a church was interested in taking the space, but I haven’t seen signs of such a deal being finalized. Indeed, if a grocery store truly is off the table, that shopping center could be in store for a nontraditional type of tenant.
• When people actually start returning to an office, hopefully in 2021, surely caffeine is going to play an important role. (I figure nap time between meetings will have to be cut by at least half.) Well, new plans have been filed confirming that west Lawrence is set to get a new drive-thru coffee shop.
Look for a Scooter’s coffee drive-thru to be built in the parking lot of the shopping center on the southwest corner of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive. That’s the shopping center that includes Six Mile Chop House, Salty Iguana and a host of other restaurants and small businesses. The small, 550-square foot building will be constructed in the northeast corner of the parking lot. That will put it kind of near the McDonald’s that is on the corner.
• Let me provide a quick update on the large apartment project planned for 2300 Crestline Drive. As you may recall, I reported earlier this week on plans for a duplex-style apartment project that would include about 300 bedrooms on the vacant ground just southwest of Clinton Parkway and Iowa Street.
Well, since I’ve published that article, the Dallas-based developer has gotten in touch with me to share his thoughts on the project. Here are a few takeaways. Trevor Tollett, executive vice president for Fountain Residential Partners, said he’s optimistic the project will win city approvals and construction work can begin in the second half of 2021. He hopes for an opening in the fall of 2023.
Part of the timeline certainly is driven by the fact the project isn’t seeking a rezoning of the property. He said the “cottage-style” duplex development is allowed under the current zoning that exists on the property and will meet the city’s definition of low density residential development.
As we reported, the project would surround the Lawrence Child Development Center, an existing day care, on three sides. The owner of that business has expressed opposition, and some other neighbors have as well. Tollett said he believes the project has been designed to reduce the impact on neighbors. That includes ensuring that no balconies or patios border the daycare center or other homes that are to the west of the site. Additional trees also will be planted on the site.
“We also are confident that some of the residents of our project will be pleased to have a day care facility so conveniently available for their children,” Tollett said via email.
He said he expects the project will have a good number of college student tenants — both undergraduate and graduate — but also expects it to attract nonstudents.
While I haven’t seen any renderings yet, Tollett said the design of the complex will adopt a craftsman style.
As we have reported, the project is still under review by the city. But since it is not seeking new zoning, it will not need to win votes from the Planning Commission and the City Commission. Rather, it is seeking site plan approval, which is handled administratively by the city’s planning staff.
I’ll let you know as we hear more about how the project progresses.