Archive for Monday, September 23, 2013

Baldwin board selects Kansas City, Mo., developer’s proposal to purchase, redevelop Chapel Street properties

The for sale sign in front of the old middle school on Chapel Street can come down after the Baldwin school board voted 6-1 Monday to enter into negotiations with a Kansas City developer to purchase and redevelop it and the neighboring South Gym.

The for sale sign in front of the old middle school on Chapel Street can come down after the Baldwin school board voted 6-1 Monday to enter into negotiations with a Kansas City developer to purchase and redevelop it and the neighboring South Gym.

September 23, 2013, 11:38 p.m.

Updated: September 24, 2013, 1:14 p.m.

Unable to decide on the merits of two rival proposals to purchase and redevelop its surplus Chapel Street properties, the Baldwin school board chose Monday to sell them to the highest bidder.

The board voted 6-1 to have Superintendent Paul Dorathy enter into negotiations with Kansas City, Mo., developer Tony Krsnich and Landmark Development for the purchase and redevelopment of the old middle school, South Gymnasium and surrounding campus in the 700 block of Chapel Street.

Board member Sandy Chapman voted against the motion. The vote disappointed the 30-some supporters of a rival proposal from Free State Broadband who attended the meeting. CEO Mike Bosch submitted the proposal last week and pitched it to the board Monday.

The two proposals were the only ones submitted in response to seven letters the school district mailed earlier this month to those who had previously expressed interest in the buildings.

All seven board members praised both proposals. They agreed Krsnich had the advantage of experience in redeveloping historic buildings and more clearly defined financing, while Bosch and his companies, Free State Broadband and Reflective Group, had the edge of local ties and a track record of creating jobs in the community.

The six board members voting for Krsnich’s proposal said they couldn’t predict which of the two proposals would benefit the district and community more, so their decision came down to the one thing they could measure: the bids. Krsnich offered $90,000, or $20,000 more than the Free State Broadband.

The board emphasized in its request for proposals that while money was important, other factors would be considered. Those included a demonstrated ability to pay for and develop the properties, the redevelopment plan’s benefit to the community and a schedule to redevelop the properties.

Krsnich told the board Bosch approached him about partnering the the development but that Bosch’s plan wouldn’t fit with his financing package.

In his address to the board on Monday, Krsnich stressed his record of renovating historic buildings and financing the projects. His projects include the redevelopment of two warehouses in east Lawrence slated for demolition, which helped rejuvenate the surrounding neighborhood as an arts district.

Krsnich made available to the board signed commitments from investors to purchase $614,000 in federal historic preservation tax credits and $763,000 in state historic preservation tax credits. That would be part of the estimated $5 million package it would take to renovate the two buildings, he said.

Both responses proposed using part of the old school building for an entrepreneur incubator, which would make communal office space and offices available to small and start-up businesses while providing them with conference rooms and basic business necessities such as Internet, copier, printer and scanner as part of their rent.

The reuse proposals differed in how they would use the building’s remaining space.

Krsnich’s plan would convert much of the old school into living quarters.

In his written proposal, Krsnich suggested the South Gym be reused as a community center in conjunction with art studios and that both uses would involve Baker University. His proposal did not anticipate that the old gym would generate revenue, he told the board.

The surrounding property is an ideal site for an organic garden, such as those on his east Lawrence development, Krsnich wrote. The renovations would include solar panels and electric car recharge stations, he wrote.

With his selection, Krsnich said he would meet with the Baldwin City Economic Development Corporation and schedule meetings with community groups to help determine the mix of housing to build in the old school.

Because of the property’s proximity to Baker, his proposal assumed the apartments would be market-driven rentals, Krsnich said Tuesday. He said he was open to including rent restricted units if that was the need in the community.

If all goes well, construction could begin shortly after the first of the year and the project could be completed in about six months, Krsnich said. He said he would take the time to do the project right.

“The important thing is not that we complete this in June or July of next year, but that we work well with the community to have a project everybody can be proud of in 15 or 20 years,” he said.

The Free State plan would have used the old school’s bottom floor as the home of Free State Broadband and expanded Reflective Group operations. In addition to the incubator, the two top floors would be home for companies and non-profits associated with the Reflective Group and an all-day day care center.

The Free State proposal said the company would partner with the Baldwin Athletic Club and owner George McCrary to establish a “community center” in the South Gym. In his address to the board Monday, Bosch said he had also talked with The Baldwin Academy and Voice about the gym.

The money from the sale of the property will be deposited in the district’s capital outlay fund.


pritchad 6 years, 8 months ago

Any apartment rentals based on income? Like the Old Ottawa School has!


Stacy Napier 6 years, 8 months ago

'Because of the property’s proximity to Baker, his proposal assumed the apartments would be market-driven rentals, Krsnich said '

I guess Krsnich didn't do his homework. Bakers students are required to live on campus or in a Greek house unless they file and get approved exemption (usually for married or living with parents). So that is pretty much out.

On to the low rent apartments. Yea just what we need. Don't we have enough with the Chicken coops and the trailer park?

Really East Lawrence isn't that great.


Bloggerboo 6 years, 8 months ago

It isn't hard for Baker students to get approved for exemption to live off campus after their sophomore year.


Torch 6 years, 8 months ago

I've never understood how Baker can get away with demanding students live in their housing. There is no competition in that case, and students are paying whatever Baker decides is 'fair'.

I like Baker and all, but I'm not sure I'd be inclined to let them dictate my living arrangements when they're already gouging me for $20k+ a year in tuition.


Bloggerboo 6 years, 8 months ago

It is pretty common amongst Baker's peer institutions, though.


Torch 6 years, 8 months ago

You know, the whole 'Everyone else is doing it' didn't fly with my parents and it shouldn't be the basis for this argument either. Using that logic is what brought us kids wearing pants around their ankles and the current trend of wearing black socks with shoes in shorts. (Horrifying by the way. lol.)

It's one of the arguments they use for raising tuition - "Everyone else raised tuition, so should we!" and "Our peer institutions raised their tuition 7% but we ONLY raised ours 6.5%. You should be thanking us!!!"

Like so many other things it's about money. The University built these facilities and in order for them to avoid losing their shirt they force students to live there. But really there's nothing anyone can do about it (as we've found out over the years) and there's enough people willing to pay it so I guess it doesn't matter.


Bloggerboo 6 years, 8 months ago

Well, that wasn't the purpose of my statement, to argue everyone else is doing it, I was just pointing out Baker isn't the only institution who has reached the same conclusion...which is, especially for freshmen and sophomores, it is significantly better to have them living on-campus where they can more quickly adjust, be held accountable, and participate in the things the university has to offer. When folks live off-campus in small liberal colleges, it becomes a barren, wasteland with not much to bond students together and build that sense of community. Sure, the money is nice, I would imagine, rather than having empty buildings that are half full that you are paying full time utilities on, etc. So, hence the reason it is not an uncommon practice among small, liberal arts colleges and universities.


DrWho 6 years, 8 months ago

Stay tuned for the "negotiations" phase........ can we place bets on how long it will take for the subject of Baldwin City taxpayers providing tax abatements, low cost loans or outright grants to get a signed sales contract?

If you pitch enough rosy-colored community benefits, you can always count on city hall to trip all over themselves to hand over taxpayer monies.

I could be proven wrong, but the school district has a long track record of sticking city taxpayers with bills for things the district either messed up, forgot or wanted to pawn off on another government entity..


NanCrisp 6 years, 8 months ago

The Free State proposal sounds far more community oriented. Too bad greed wins out. There is no shortage of housing options in this town at all economic levels. But there has not been an all-day daycare facility since the closing of the Baker/USD lab school ten years ago. It matters not to me. My children are grown and I gave up on this town a long time ago. Just sayin' : more of the same old same old.


baldwinfan 6 years, 8 months ago

I do feel the community lost out on this vote.


Commenting has been disabled for this item.