Change Could Come for Downtown Lawrence

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – A change may be coming for the North side of downtown Lawrence.  Last night the city commission tentatively approved a re-zoning of the area.  The grand plan is to add retail shops, a boardwalk along the river and some living spaces too, but local business owners aren’t sure what to make of the plan.

For Craig Nowatzke, opening up Gaslight Gardens was a dream come true.

“Ive always liked this space, and when it came available, I decided to do it,” Nowatzke said.

Nowatzke loves Lawrence, especially downtown, and he’s not sure yet how he feels about changing the city’s North side.

“I see a lot of pros, but I see some cons just depending on which way they go with it.  I definitely think we need more hotel space near downtown, and I like the river a lot , so I think the boardwalk would be great,” he explained.

Plans are tentative at the most at this point, but Tuesday night, the Lawrence City Commission approved a measure to re-zone what’s called the North Mass Development.  The re-zoning won’t be official, though, until the commission can see a design plan for the area.

Simon Bates is interested in seeing those plans too.  Bates is in favor of fixing up the North side.

“I think it’d be nice to do some new stuff over there,” he said.

As long as his restaurant doesn’t get forced out of business.

“As a restaurateur downtown, lunches are slow and everyone’s kind of in the same boat of preserving what we have,” Bates said.

The plans right now call for retail, a boardwalk along the river, and some residential spaces, Bates says he only thinks the plan will be successful if the north side has something different to offer.

“I hope that if it’s something that does go through that there’s some unique businesses that Lawrence doesn’t have already,” he said.



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