Historic Resources Commission approves design plans for Q39 barbecue project in downtown Lawrence

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Members of the city’s Historic Resources Commission on Thursday voted 5-1 in favor of design plans as part of the Q39 barbecue restaurant coming to downtown Lawrence.

The plans are for the loading dock area of the former Lawrence Journal-World printing press in the 600 block of New Hampshire Street in downtown Lawrence.

The redevelopment will be called Press Yards, and it will also include office space and “experiential components,” according to a news release announcing Q39’s plans.

City staff members had recommended against the developers’ plans to paint some of the bricks white, and to use unpainted timber columns. Developers opted to use metal supports instead of the timber columns, but they still wanted approval for the painted brick.

HRC member Neal Ezell said the building currently looks at best like a warehouse, and at worst like a prison.

“I’ve only been on this commission for two years, but this is by far the coolest thing I’ve ever seen come through here,” Ezell said. “… I, for one, would hate to stand in the way of this project.”

Staff members had concerns that moisture can get trapped inside bricks when painted, which can cause brick failure over time. Architect David Herron told the commissioners about products they can use that will help protect the bricks’ integrity.

Rendering of Q39, planned to open in downtown Lawrence in October 2024 (Contributed image)

HRC Chair Joy Coleman said she agreed that the masonry coatings have been proven to not trap moisture in the surface of the masonry, and that they would let out moisture vapor.

Attorney Patrick Watkins, who is representing the developers, said the bricks to be painted are only 3% of the building’s facade. He also said he believes the project meets downtown design guidelines — “every single one of them.”

“We think that this is just a great project, not only for downtown but the greater community,” Watkins said.


Coleman said she doesn’t think “we should let 3% of the facade drive the boat here.”

“And we do have the right to decide that this does comply with our standards and guidelines in some way,” she said.

Ezell agreed.

“If you want to paint 3% of the outside of this building — and I understand why you want to do it. You want to set this off from the rest of the building. It’s a huge building,” he said. “And you know, you want to draw attention to it. I think that will work.”

The HRC voted 5-1 to recommend in favor of a certificate of approval for the project, including the painted brick, with Coleman, Vice Chair Jay Holley and members Ezell, Will Haynes and Bonnie Johnson in favor, and Jeanne Klein opposed.

The Historic Resources Commission is an advisory board. Its recommendation will go to the Lawrence City Commission for final approval.

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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