Archive for Wednesday, March 29, 2000

Tenants filling FireTree commercial center

March 29, 2000

It's official now. Ken Hayes has the "anchor" for FireTree Plaza, the commercial center to be built along U.S. Highway 56 in FireTree Estates. It is O'Bryhim's Thriftway, a full-line grocery store, which has a location in Overbrook.

"This is the anchor for our commercial development," said Hayes. "We have several other interested tenants, but we do have space available."

Hayes said he has commitments for a pharmacy, a chiropractor and a liquor store in addition to the grocery store and expects letters of intent to be signed on them soon. Plans also call for a restaurant in phase 1 of the project.

FireTree Plaza will be on the north side of U.S. 56, facing the highway and will be between Ninth and Tenth streets. To the east of the plaza is where the Mid America Bank will be located. FireTree Plaza's phase 1 will consist of 28,000 square feet of commercial stores, with O'Bryhim's Thriftway filling up 18,000 square feet. Owner is Chris O'Bryhim, who Hayes said has tentative plans for a bakery and deli counter in the store.

"That brings us to phase 2," said Hayes. "We're looking at office commercial for that."

Phase 2 will be 20,000 to 22,000 square feet of space located behind the bank to the north. Possible tenants for it include an athletic club.

Hayes presented his ideas to the Baldwin City Planning Commission two weeks ago and the project has taken off from there.

"We are very pleased with the planning commission's reaction and they're excited about the project. We were well prepared and it went without a hitch," he said. "We're able to submit prints for construction permits and we hope to be under way no later than April 15.

"Basically, in 45 days I want to be moving dirt, if not sooner," he said.

Construction is currently under way along that area of U.S. 56 to widen the highway. Hayes said that construction will not impact his development.

"The road construction won't effect us because we have access to the property through FireTree," he said. "KDOT (Kansas Department of Transportation) has given us access points at both Ninth and Tenth."

Hayes also said construction on the plaza will begin as soon as possible.

"We should be fully functional by Jan. 1, 2001," he said.

Hayes, who owns Cornerstone Construction Co. of Lawrence along with Mike Hultine, is also joined in the development by George Paley, former owner of Natural Way in Lawrence, and Brian Abbott, a financial planner. Cornerstone Construction will build the center.

Phase 1 is expected to cost $2.2 million and the second phase will bring the total investment to at least $3.6 million.

"This will be the largest single commercial development in the city," said Hayes, a 1984 graduate of Baldwin High School who has moved back to the city. "Our goal is to offer the services the community needs."

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