Medical emergency strikes at local planning commission meeting; an update on SLT and Iowa Street development, plus Sixth and Monterey demolition

Lawrence City Hall is pictured in this file photo.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday evening became frightening at City Hall.

Longtime Lawrence architect Allen Belot collapsed during the meeting from an apparent heart attack, shortly after making a presentation to the commission.

Several members of the crowded meeting room rushed to Belot and began providing aid that ranged from chest compressions to mouth-to-mouth to one individual providing a nitroglycerin pill that the bystander carried with him for his own medical use.

A source with the family told me Friday morning that Belot remains in a Kansas City hospital — where he was transferred after first being taken to LMH Health — and is making “remarkable” progress on a recovery.

Emergency crews were on the scene within three minutes, Planning Commissioner Gary Rexroad told me in a brief interview on Thursday. He said the efforts of the crowd — including planning commissioners — appeared to be vital.

“It certainly is a reminder of how important CPR training is,” Rexroad said.

Belot is a Lawrence native and has designed a variety of projects around town. People also may remember Belot — son of a longtime Lawrence physician — as an active member in the health care community for years, serving as a trustee for Lawrence Memorial Hospital.


There was business at the Planning Commission that we planned to update you on, although it seems less important than it once did. Commissioners were scheduled to hear an annexation request for 143 acres at the southeast corner of the South Lawrence Trafficway and Iowa Street interchange.

I reported several weeks ago that Wichita developer Phil Bundy was seeking to bring the undeveloped land into the city limits. Annexation is step No. 1 in constructing a mixed-use development on the site.

Planning commissioners had not yet gotten to the annexation request when the medical emergency occurred. Commissioners ended the meeting at that time, and haven’t yet set a date for when the meeting will resume.

As I reported earlier this month, details about the type of development Bundy wants to build at the intersection have been sparse. However, the agenda packet for planning commissioners did provide some new information. Concept plans for the property include:

• 46 acres of small residential lots to accommodate single-family homes, townhomes, and perhaps zero-lot-line homes. Rowhouses and other building types that go right up to the edge of a property are examples of zero-lot-line homes. The letter to planning commissioners indicated the small-lot homes could help with affordable housing in the community.

• 18 acres of larger housing lots that would accommodate “mid-level” housing stock.

• 26 acres of “commercial and service areas.” The letter didn’t elaborate on what types of retailers or businesses might be attracted to that commercial area.

— 22 acres for public-purpose spaces such as parks and cultural amenities that would be appropriate for what developers said they hope will be a southern gateway into Lawrence.

• 16 acres for an “entertainment district” that would be easily accessible to all of Douglas County due to the major highways leading to the site, developers said in the letter.

• The letter did not state whether the developer would ask for any specific financial incentives for the project, but did say that the developer is “interested in a partnership with the City of Lawrence and Douglas County to improve the existing roadway around the development.” The letter also noted that the development will require the extension of water and sewer lines south of the South Lawrence Trafficway.

The city’s professional planning staff has recommended approval of the annexation. The planning staff, however, has recommended approval of annexation of the property previously, but past projects have met opposition from planning commissioners and/or city commissioners, who ultimately must approve any project.


In other news and notes from around town:

• A former funeral home building has met its end on Sixth Street, and many of you want to know what will take its place.

The building that used to house a funeral home on the southeast corner of Sixth Street and Monterey Way — 3821 W. Sixth St. — recently was demolished. The building has been empty for years, and has created some speculation about what may ultimately land on the prominent west Lawrence corner.

The answer isn’t some new jaw-dropping restaurant or venue — but if you are having a jaw problem, you will be pleased to hear about it. Plans call for a new oral surgery center.

Oral Surgery Kansas plans to relocate from its existing Lawrence office on Maine Street to the new location upon completion of the building.

Lawrence-based Paul Werner Architects has designed the new building. Plans call for a new 8,875-square-foot, single-story building to be constructed on the site of the old building. That is roughly the size of the old building, but that structure had sat empty for years and the new building will be custom-designed for the type of oral surgery the company performs.


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