The Basics

What is the East Ninth project?
The Lawrence Arts Center received a prestigious ArtPlace grant award for the infusion of art  into a streetscape project along East 9th Street, from Delaware to Massachusetts.

Where is the project area?
The East Ninth project area is a seven block area of east 9th Street, from Massachusetts Street to Delaware Street. This area is an important connection between historic Downtown Lawrence, the historic east Lawrence neighborhood, and the Industrial Historic District (commonly called the Warehouse Arts District).
Street Plan

What is the purpose of the project?
There are two aspects to the East Ninth project:

    • To improve and update the streetscape and public right of way to be safer for all who travel on it, to be more pedestrian/bike friendly, and to improve aesthetics and,
    • Through the ArtPlace grant funds, facilitate and implement art as part of the design and integrated aspects of the streetscape.

What infrastructure is planned?
At this point we know it’s a streetscape and infrastructure will be determined by the needs of the street. The preliminary proposed details of this can be found in the Design Development Document.

What does “streetscape” mean?
Basically, a streetscape includes all the elements of a street―the roadway, curbs, sidewalks, street furniture, lighting & lamps, trees, landscaping, etc.―that combine to form the street’s character.

Are any commercial or multi-story buildings part of this project? Will any buildings be built?

Will existing houses be torn down?

Will this project turn East Ninth into an entertainment district?
From the work plan: “This project, officially titled East Ninth, is specifically a right-of-way improvement project that includes integrated artworks and new multimodal transportation strategies. As such, the project scope does not include future redevelopment/rezoning plans for surrounding or adjacent properties. The project goals do not include establishing East Ninth Street as a sanctioned “entertainment corridor” that diminishes the authenticity of East Lawrence’s rich, cultural history. Rather, the project seeks to become a vital, public street that sensitively and artfully engages each block from Massachusetts Street to Delaware Street—a cultural asset for East Lawrence and the City of Lawrence alike.”

What are the project boundaries?
The project will only affect the public right-of-way (R.O.W.) on the north and south side of East 9th Street between Massachusetts and Delaware.

Can I see a right-of-way map?
Yes. Here’s the link to interactive maps on the City of Lawrence’s website.

Does this project affect zoning?
The project will not affect current zoning. Generally, zoning changes are initiated by property owners, the City Commission, or other interest groups and must go through land use review procedures with the City Planning and Development Department.

The Process

What has been approved so far? What still needs to be approved?
The Design Development Document has been accepted by the Lawrence City Commission. The Design Development Document will be reviewed again by the City Commission at a meeting yet to be determined.  The next step is for the City Commission to approve Phase I of the Design and move on to the Technical Drawing Phase (Phase 2) where budgets, logistical details and exact plans will be tweaked with the assistance of City staff.

The artists for the Integrated Artist and East Ninth Artist portions of the project were selected through a process whose summary can be found HERE, on Friday, July 31st, 2015.

How is the Lawrence Arts Center involved?
The Lawrence Arts Center applied for and received an ArtPlace grant in 2014. They are serving as the local fiscal agent for the public art program for this project and coordinating contracts and payments for the selected artists. They also have a representative serving on the East Ninth Citizen Advisory Committee.

What is the Design Development Document?
A comprehensive planning document that outlines the scope of the project, describes and documents various community engagement processes, design development and the schedule for delivery of the Complete Street design.

Has the public been involved in the design process?
Yes.  There have been over 40 public meetings regarding the design.  The animated image below lists those from January 2015 through May 2016.

East Ninth Meetings


Who is el dorado inc.?
The Kansas City, MO based architecture firm that was chosen through a competitive process as the lead designer and team leader for the project. Their team includes lead artist Sans Façon, engineering firm Bartlett & West, and landscape architecture firm Coen + Partners.

How were they selected?
A Request for Qualifications (or RFQ) was published by the city in September 2014 for: “Artistic and engineering design services for the 9th Street Corridor—Massachusetts to Delaware reconstruction and revitalization in conjunction with an ArtPlace creative placemaking grant.”

Six teams, from Lawrence, Denver, Des Moines and Kansas City responded to the RFQ and, after a panel of 13 members―with representatives from the City, the Lawrence Arts Center, University of Kansas, the East Lawrence Neighborhood, and the Lawrence community―reviewed the team submittals, el dorado inc. was selected. See the el dorado inc. Qualification Packet.

Who else is involved in the design locally?
Other members of the design team include Dennis Domer, east Lawrence historian; Luke Dubois, multi-media art technician; and Kelly Kindscher, indigenous landscape specialist. The design team will work with the City of Lawrence, the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association (ELNA), Downtown Lawrence, Inc. (DLI), the Lawrence Arts Center, and the Citizen Advisory Committee to assist with the guidance of the project, residents, business owners and other community stakeholders to create a design for East Ninth.

What is ArtPlace?
From the introduction on the ArtPlace America web site:

ArtPlace America (ArtPlace) is a ten-year collaboration among a number of foundations, federal agencies, and financial institutions that works to position arts and culture as a core sector of comprehensive community planning and development in order to help strengthen the social, physical, and economic fabric of communities.

ArtPlace focuses its work on creative placemaking, which describes projects in which art plays an intentional and integrated role in place-based community planning and development. This brings artists, arts organizations, and artistic activity into the suite of placemaking strategies pioneered by Jane Jacobs and her colleagues, who believed that community development must be locally informed, human-centric, and holistic.

In practice, this means having arts and culture represented alongside sectors like housing and transportation – with each sector recognized as part of any healthy community; as requiring planning and investment from its community; and as having a responsibility to contribute to its community’s overall future.”

Artist Involvement

How were local artists involved in the process?
The Request for Qualifications (RFQ) was available to “all professional artists.” Any professional artist, including local artists, were able to submit their qualifications as outlined in the RFQ to compete for projects. In addition, the Citizen Advisory Committee developed a specialized “Associate Artist” program for artists seeking to gain professional public art experience.  $15,000 was set aside so that at least three interested local artists―Lawrence and Douglas County residents―could apply to be considered to work alongside a selected artist to gain direct professional public art experience as a paid professional development opportunity.

What type of projects might the artists work on?
Public Art is a highly innovative and ever-evolving field so it’s difficult to say what the artists might do on the project. Projects will range from performance-based to permanent. As described on page 68 of the Work Plan, three models of participation for artists have been developed specifically for this project:

  • EAST NINTH ARTISTS: In a similar vein to a Poet Laureate, four artists of different disciplines will be invited over a period of two years to explore, expand, and celebrate the social character of Lawrence through film-making, photography, visual art and music. Artists were invited to apply through an open call process.
  • INTEGRATED WORKS: Three artists will be asked to collaborate with the design team to integrate their work into the infrastructure of 9th Street. The three infrastructure typologies will be: Gathering Place, Lighting and Thoroughfares. Artists were invited to apply through an open call process.

How were the artists be selected?
As is typical for civic public art projects, a competitive artist selection process was implemented to select the artists who would work with the design team and related stakeholders to create art for the project. Artists were able to submit their qualifications―portfolio, resume, letter of interest and background―which were be reviewed by an eight member panel (or jury) facilitated by the Director of Arts and Culture.

Who is on the selection committee?

  • The Director of Arts and Culture
    • Porter Arneill
  • A el dorado inc. representative
    • David Dowell
  • A Sans façon representative
    • Tristan Surtees
  • Three members of the Citizen Advisory Committee
    • Emily Peterson – Owner/Operator at Merchants Pub & Plate
    • Ben Ahlvers – Exhibitions Director, Lawrence Arts Center
    • Katherine Simmons – Chair, Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission
  • Two arts professionals (local or national)
    • James Martin – Independent Curator/Public Art Consultant
    • Larry Thomas – Artist/Chair of the Fine Arts Department, Johnson County Community College
  • A Parks and Recreation representative
    • Mark Hecker – Assistant Director, Lawrence Parks & Recreation Department


Where is the money coming from for the plan?
(Note: While the ArtPlace grant and design contract are quantified (see below) the overall budget remains somewhat speculative until the Technical Drawing Phase is complete and bids and agreements are in place; both for construction and art.)

The ArtPlace grant provides $500,000 for the public art aspects (administration, design, fabrication, and installation) of the project and the City’s Capital Improvement Program provides the funds for design and construction of street infrastructure.

The current overall budget is:

Budget 5-24-16

Will our property taxes go up?
Property taxes are assessed to private property, not the public right-of-way. This project will only include the public right-of-way so it will have no direct effect on property or other taxes.

What happens to the money if the city doesn’t do this project?
It would likely be absorbed into other City of Lawrence Capital Improvement Projects. The ArtPlace grant money would be returned.


What are the benefits of this project to East Lawrence?
There will be a new and improved “Complete Street” multi-modal streetscape with all the benefits mentioned above―the street and sidewalks will be carefully planned, designed, operated, and maintained to enable safe, convenient and comfortable travel and access for users of all ages and abilities regardless of their mode of transportation.

Complete Streets allow for safe travel by those walking, bicycling, driving automobiles, riding public transportation, or delivering goods. There will also be several unique artistic interventions that will engage the East Lawrence community and may lead to future opportunities for other creative endeavors in this uniquely creative neighborhood.

What are the benefits of the East Ninth project for Lawrence as a whole?

  • Improved streets and sidewalks
  • Improved lighting and way-finding
  • Improved safety, convenience, travel and access for users of all ages and abilities regardless of their mode of transportation―including pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Through the ArtPlace grant funds, facilitate and implement art as part of the design and integrated aspects of the streetscape.
  • This will serve as a model of possibility for other city infrastructure projects.

How does this project affect New York Elementary School?
A safer streetscape and better pedestrian access to the school and other community buildings―a benefit for residents, the church and businesses too.

Are there East Lawrence residents who support this project?
Yes.  The below map (full detail HERE), compiled over a single 48 hour period in May, 2016, includes addresses of 550+ individuals from across Lawrence who are in support of this project.  This includes over 100 individuals residing in the East Lawrence neighborhood.

Support Map

Are there East Lawrence artists who support this project?
Yes.  Many East Lawrence artists are included in the support letter below.

Where can I learn more?
On the City of Lawrence’s website.

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