Shoppers on Mass Street, courtesy Lawrence CVB
Talk to anyone from Lawrence, Kansas, and they’ll likely mention KU basketball or Mass Street or both.
University of Kansas basketball is a way of life in Lawrence, and so is the city’s hip and happening downtown. The main drag, Massachusetts Street – “Mass Street” to locals – is lined with historic buildings filled with boutiques, cafes, bars and restaurants. The robust business district extends to the streets that flank Mass and beyond.
“There aren’t that many cities with a true downtown left,” said Sally Zogry, director of Downtown Lawrence Inc. “We’re lucky that our community made it a priority to maintain that history and preserve and promote it.”
Such a lively downtown means low-cost or no-cost entertainment options for meeting attendees.
“We can send them downtown, and no matter what your music tastes, no matter what your restaurant tastes, they have so much to do,” said Christina Phelps, director of the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The opening of a new downtown hotel and the refurbishment of an old favorite will add to downtown’s appeal. Ground was broken in July for a 91-room Marriott TownePlace hotel one block east of Mass Street. The five-story hotel is expected to open late next summer.
The Olivia Collection, which owns the Oread hotel next to KU campus, also owns the historic Eldridge Hotel downtown, which was renovated in the spring. The project included upgrades to all 48 guest suites.
The Eldridge has space for small meetings, including the 1,870-square-foot Crystal Ballroom.