Business park near airport proposed: Developer says area well suited for industrial growth

Jun. 23--A Lawrence developer wants to build a 900-acre business park near the Lawrence Municipal Airport. Jes Santaularia and his real estate company, Diversified Concepts, are filing proposals with Lawrence-Douglas County planners to convert the...

Santaularia's company has secured all property necessary to move forward with the 140-acre, phase one development. But he only has about one-third of the total 900 acres needed for the entire business park he envisions. His company is in a partnership for 300 acres of land owned by the Pine family. Another 300 acres is controlled by the Kansas University Endowment Association, which has property just east of the airport. The remaining 300 acres is owned by 12 to 15 other landowners.

The eastern edge of the project would stretch to Grant School Road, also known as East 1600 Road. The western edge would stop just east of the KOA Campground near the Tee Pee Junction. Neither the Tee Pee Junction nor the Airport Motel -- two longtime businesses in the area -- would be forced to relocate as part of the project, Anthony Santaularia said.

The Santaularias have been working to build support for the project in the area. He's touting to North Lawrence leaders that the development would include some small-scale commercial areas to make shopping more convenient. He's also included a site for a fire station in the development, and has committed to build an extensive stormwater detention area that would attempt to divert a significant amount of drainage that runs through North Lawrence.

The project, though, is sure to spur numerous questions from residents in the area. Ronald Schneider is a Lawrence lawyer who lives just north and east of the airport. He's carefully watched previous attempts to develop near the airport. He said there are significant amounts of environmentally sensitive lands in the area. Schneider said he wants to learn much more about the project.

"This just sounds so ambitious that it seems like it would have tremendous financial and environmental implications," Schneider said. "It needs to be thoroughly studied."

Pine said he's sure that several of his neighbors will have concerns too.

"I'm sure not everybody will be on board with all the changes, and I can certainly understand that," Pine said. "For many years I would not have been excited about doing it either. I make no bones about that.

"But we just think change is coming to this area one way or another. We wanted to be part of the decision-making process rather than being concerned about what was coming our way."

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