Friday, September 25, 2009

What's Going In Here?

Roads are taking shape with asphalt paving and several sidewalks have been poured here at the Fort. See all of this has prompted many people to ask, "What's going in here?" Naturally, with construction many people expect to see cool things like buildings. When I answer this question with an enthusiastic . . . (because I AM sometimes overwhelmingly enthusiastic about this project) . . . "We're building new streets, sidewalks, bike lanes, parks and planting a bunch of trees!" Usually, they look at me with disappointment and respond, "But I thought we were getting a library!"

Let me set the record straight. We WANT a Lawrence Library here within Lawrence Village at the Fort and are working with the Mayor and the Marion County Library Association in an effort to make that happen. Unfortunately, in this economy, the process is more difficult, but rest assured that we are still working on it.

As for seeing buildings go up, we need to sell property to developers of those buildings first. And, we are working very hard on doing that, too.

Well, as a Lawrence resident, I've got a wish list of my own and it's closely aligned with both others in the community as well as with the master plan for Lawrence Village at the Fort. We are working to bring in more living options such as apartments, condos and townhomes; more small to medium size businesses with employees who want to get out and walk in these beautiful surroundings; and DEFINITELY more restaurants and retail offerings. With all of the employees and students in the near vicinity, we are desperately underserved when it comes to nice sit-down family-friendly restaurants.

The Reuse Authority participated in the City of Lawrence's recent Community Day at Lawrence Park on September 19. Several people stopped by our "booth" and some even completed a questionnaire asking what they'd like to see out here. Here are some of their responses:

Restaurants: Independantly owned family dining, Olive Garden, Puccini's, Cafe Patachou, Texas Roadhouse, Zest, Red Robin, Johnny Rockets, Rock Bottom, Ruby Tuesday, and a pizza restaurant.

Housing: Condos, townhomes, apartments, lofts

Businesses: Movie theater, farmer's market, artists, library, hair salons, Chase bank

Other: large water fountain, amphiteheater, military memorial monument, indoor/outdoor play area, indoor/outdoor art gallery.

This list doesn't represent the entire list collected. It does represent some pretty good ideas of what the Reuse Authority would like to see out here. What you won't see are the "big box" stores such as Costco and Sam's -- not because we don't like them, but because we are building a smaller, more urban village with buildings that are close to each other, a minimum of two-story, and brick. We are also trying to stay away from "outlots" which are stand-alone restaurants and stores that are located in front of strip centers and malls.

We sincerely appreciate all responses and welcome more ideas! And, please stay tuned for more exciting news, because I guarantee there will be some! (there I go again with that enthusiasm.)

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