To our LPA members and followers:
We need your help. City commissioners need to hear from you over the next few days about your feelings about the massive HUB student housing project that has been proposed for 11th and Massachusetts streets downtown. The City Commission is scheduled to hear arguments on May 7 on an appeal being brought by the developer, Core Spaces, to overturn the unanimous recommendation against the project by the Historic Resources Commission.
We believe the scale and design of this project could overwhelm the historic Douglas County Courthouse and Watkins Museum buildings on the adjacent corners. Our belief is that this may be the biggest threat to the historic character of downtown since the downtown mall proposals in the mid-1980s. This is a time to be informed, aware and vigilant as a citizen.
Some background: One of the services LPA provides is that we follow development proposals that could affect listed properties through the planning approval process. We are present at every meeting of the Historic Resources Commission (HRC), frequently providing informed comment on agenda items. We also work to maintain good communications with planning staff and city commissioners. Certainly, final votes taken don’t always go the way we would like, but 99 times out of 100, we can say the effort we put forth to represent LPA interest was enough. The appeal Core Spaces is bringing to City Commission May 7 for its massive student housing project downtown could be the rare exception.
To date, LPA has had one initial meeting with a Lawrence representative of the developer, formulated our position over a number of meetings of the executive board and the full board, shared information with other concerned public groups, testified at HRC, and submitted two letters to the City Commission. We are now working to meet personally with each commissioner.
LPA would appreciate if you would communicate your concerns about this project to the commission by letter or email no later than May 5. Attending the City Commission meeting May 7 also is important, but please be advised that the staff and applicant presentation will be long, and many speakers will want to provide public comment. Up to three minutes per speaker is allowed..
Commissioners appreciate letters and messages written respectfully and in your own words. It doesn’t have to be long. But you need to make sure your voice is heard and counted. You can send snail mail or email. Address your message to Lawrence City Commission. By mail, send it to PO Box 708, 6 E. 6th Street, Lawrence, Ks, 66044. Send email to Bobbie Walthall, firstname.lastname@example.org. Bobbie is an administrator in the City Manager’s Office. She will make sure your email is distributed to all five city commissioners.
LPA has written two letters to the commission that you should read and that might be helpful for you in formulating your own messages to the commission. The first one, here, raises overall objections to the design. The second one, here, focuses on the unusual plan to build over the alley between New Hampshire and Massachusetts streets. We also have a news story about the HRC decision. If you read these, you will gain a good understanding of what is being proposed and what concerns preservationists have.