Archive for Thursday, November 4, 2004

Towne Center seen as new downtown

November 4, 2004

Water fountains, ponds, a winding road and streetlights dot an otherwise-empty landscape on Lansing's south side. But city officials hope the area soon will be the city's business center.

The Lansing Towne Center development stretches from Mary Street to 4-H Road along the west side of Kansas Highway 7.

Mayor Kenneth Bernard said the idea behind Towne Center - a public and private venture - was rooted in a decision years ago to expand Kansas Highway 7 to four lanes through the city. The expansion, Bernard said, "destroyed downtown."

Towne Center is seen, Bernard said, as away to re-create a downtown Lansing.

"We built that with the idea that it would become the central business district," he explained.

Mike Smith, Lansing city administrator, sees a potential explosion in commercial growth in Lansing to rival the city's growth in population

"It'll be on Main Street, in Towne Center, everywhere," he predicted. And it will include everything from clothing stores to beauty supply shops to restaurants.

"Once it starts, it's going to be like a domino effect. It's just a matter of time : and negotiations," Smith said.

Those talks, Smith said, are to ensure developments are of the right mix and quality.

"We're trying to get the right development so that Towne Center is protected. We don't want to bring in something that's got a tenuous future. We're looking for development that not only will enhance the area but that will be there for the foreseeable future.Neither Smith nor Bernard would comment on potential businesses for Towne Center, though the mayor said he hoped the development would lure an anchor tenant.

"Developments that large," Bernard said, "take time."

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