Brandon Woods Retirement Community simply couldn't wait any longer.
After adding independent-living townhomes in recent years, the retirement community is spending another $5 million to upgrade, update and expand offerings in its core complex: a new main kitchen, private rooms and luxury-style amenities.
The goal is to enhance Brandon Woods' longtime standing at the upper end of the retirement market, from its 30-acre site southeast of Bob Billings Parkway and Wakarusa Drive.
"We want to be the retirement community of choice here in Lawrence, a community that is unique in the state of Kansas," said Donna Bell, a Brandon Woods spokeswoman. "We're first with a lot of things. We want to have a retirement community that's up to the Lawrence standard."
Bell isn't the only one thinking big in western Lawrence, where home builders, business owners, budding entrepreneurs and others continue to stake their claims - all while future projects face an uncertain future, as city leaders await a study to determine if there's enough sewer capacity to allow growth to continue.
Among the new arrivals out west:
¢ Emprise and Intrust banks opened new branches along Wakarusa Drive, joining Central National Bank, Sunflower Bank, UMB Bank and Commerce Bank along the area's prime north-south backbone.
¢ Several new medical buildings have opened: Old Oak Medical Center includes an image center for Lawrence Memorial Hospital, plus Sigler Pharmacy, Therapy Works and Internal Medicine Group; Family Medical Associates is west of Wakarusa; and Dr. Tom Rainbolt, a Lawrence dentist, pumped $1.7 million into a new dental center and office space near the northwest corner of Bob Billings and Wakarusa. A new station for Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical is under construction farther south on Wakarusa.
¢ Residential projects continue to pile up. Saddlebrook Townhomes, southwest of Sixth Street and Folks Road, are on track for opening this summer. Additional units at Meadowbrook Apartments, at Bob Billings and Crestline Drive, are heading toward completion. And developers have broken ground on Bella Sera, a luxury condominium project set for the north side of Bob Billings, adjacent to the city's west Lawrence police center.
¢ Several smaller retailers and other business operations have opted to call west Lawrence home. A strip center near Brandon Woods recently welcomed Centro Cigars, which includes a cigar lounge known as Club Centro; and Pawsh Wash, a specialty pet shop where dog owners can wash their canines. A center southwest of Clinton Parkway and Wakarusa welcomed Zina's Market, a purveyor of imported foods; and Yager's Flies, which stocks 150,000 artificial flies alongside seemingly anything else someone would need to cast their lines into the world of fly-fishing.
¢ J.P. Morgan moved its Lawrence investment office into Wakarusa Corporate Centre, a large office building that continues to draw tenants after being vacant for months. Kantronics, which for 35 years had been running its ham radio equipment business in southeast Lawrence, earlier this year moved into an office at 3115 W. Sixth St.
¢ Mike Treanor, a Lawrence architect, recently received approval for his 43-acre, mixed-use development to be known as Bauer Farm, along the north side of Sixth Street between Wakarusa Drive and Folks Road. The "new urbanism" project - with residences planned to face Sixth Street and the pedestrian and commercial opportunities it affords - has been in the works for several years, and he's anxious to get started.
"It creates a sense of place," Treanor told Rotarians during a presentation late last year, when he could have been speaking of west Lawrence as a whole. "You're part of the community instead of turning your back on it."