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City being asked to get the ball rolling on new 20- to 60-acre retirement village


This talk of Lawrence really becoming a retirement community is getting more serious all the time.

The city and county last month already committed to a marketing strategy and have expressed a willingness to boost the salary of the open position for director of the Douglas County Senior Services in an effort to get an expert into the community. Together, those two initiatives may cost $75,000 to $100,000 a year to fund, although there is hope the private sector will help with the marketing campaign.

But now there are signs of an effort that may dwarf that. The city on Tuesday will consider spending up to $12,500 to help draw up the paperwork for a new nonprofit organization that would be tasked with creating a “retirement village” in Lawrence or Douglas County. The money also would go to help pay for a consultant, with the balance of the funding likely coming from other partners.

Tuesday’s action would just get the ball rolling, but where it rolls to is the interesting part. City Commissioner Hugh Carter, KU Professor Dennis Domer and others have been talking for quite awhile now about the idea of an intergenerational village that would attract KU alumni and others back to the community.

There are still a lot of details that need to be worked out; where such a village would be built and how it would be funded are two of the larger ones. But a proposal to the City Commission starts to paint a picture. Here are some details:

• A village likely would be anywhere from 20 to 60 acres in size.

• Potential partners for the project include the city, the county, Kansas University, Lawrence Memorial Hospital and the private sector, among others.

• About 25 to 35 percent of the project would be single-family homes, apartments and condominiums designed to attract people 62 years and younger. The private sector would build those living units.

• About 50 to 60 percent of the project would be a not-for-profit “continuing care retirement community” for people 62 and older. Such a facility would include independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care facilities.

• The project would include a substantial health care facility that would offer diagnostics, laboratory services, radiology, urgent care and other services that could be offered a by a community-based nursing program. Organizers hope the facility would be run by Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

• The project ideally would be located next to park land and athletic facilities. The design would highlight pedestrian activity, access to nature, and would integrate the senior and nonsenior living areas.

It appears the structure for the development would call for a new nonprofit organization to oversee the development. Creating that organization is what city commissioners are being asked to help with at their Tuesday meeting. The county also would be asked to contribute $12,500.

Once the organization is formed and a board is created, further planning can begin, including “creation of a development calendar, project visioning, financial projections, and site review,” City Commissioner Hugh Carter wrote in a memo to commissioners.

Eventually, it sounds like the group will want to hire a consultant that specializes in creating nonprofit retirement communities. Carter estimated the cost for the first phase of planning may run to about $75,000. Besides the city and the county, other potential funding partners are LMH, KU and Douglas County Senior Services.

If this project makes it past Tuesday — and it appears it will because the request is on the city’s consent agenda — it will be a project to watch in the weeks and months ahead.


Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

Reckless spending indeed. Just another way to build more housing in an already saturated market. Appears as though reckless lending practices of financial institutions is still alive and well.

There are plenty of places for seniors to lease if that is their pleasure. There are a number of blighted rental dwellings behind the Dillons #70 on 23rd street. This would make an excellent location because it would be within walking distance to groceries and pharmacy. Infrastructure is in place.

What a great way to to eliminate blight in Lawrence,Kansas. BUT please no new junk construction that some Lawrence developers are famous for.

Tenants To Homeowners is the most in touch organization for this project and they do not produce junk construction. Tenants to Homeowners could eliminate the need for a new position in City Hall and consultants. This organization could produce the absolute best bang for the senior buck. This organization has been providing homes designed for the physically challenged citizens as well for many years.

As long as Sam Brownback is around this will be a major obstacle to attracting new Seniors. Time to move out our glass house city hall and Chamber of Commerce.

chootspa 5 years, 3 months ago

This plan would be a lot more practical if Brownback weren't moving to cut services and raise property taxes.

irvan moore 5 years, 3 months ago

mr. carter seems to be doing a great job for the chamber

Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

With corporations routinely defaulting on their pension promises, more and more workers must rely on their individual wealth to make up the difference.

The stock market collapse at the turn of the millennium wiped out much of the financial wealth of middle class Americans, and the collapse of the housing bubble has wiped out much of their remaining wealth.

Pensions are a rare species. 401k's are no guarantee.

Where's the money? Most of the wealth goes to the west coast, Arizona, Boulder,Colorado, New Mexico and Florida home to Lawrence developers. In our area seniors like Kansas,City,Mo.

cowboy 5 years, 3 months ago

Sounds like every other senior org in town. expensive , locks you in year round , and boring. Retirees are active , want to travel and not spend the whole year here. Set up a short term lease retirement community with reasonable amenities and you'd sell it out. In my mind the only reason you'd retire in Lawrence is that youre stuck here. We retire in a few years and want to be here maybe half of the year and be in warmer climes and a more entertaining area during the winter.

repaste 5 years, 3 months ago

"The project ideally would be located next to park land and athletic facilities" Rock chalk park. You got it.

Eugehne Normandin 5 years, 3 months ago

How many unrelated retirees can live in an Oread rental house ????

kseagle 5 years, 3 months ago

What the Old Folks Community called Topeka isn't good enough? Now you want Lawrence to look like Topeka?

Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

Can we say a handful of tax dollar handouts are around the corner. City Hall needs to get a grip.

Why spend a bunch of money on another idea that may never materialize?

Seniors don't need this village and be isolated. Keep them in the downtown neighborhoods where the infrastructure and friendly neighbors exist.

Keep them in the local hoods where active minds are out and about. Near the hospital,grocery stores,walking distance to downtown,public transportation,library and such. Don't forget near safe bicycling.

AND they don't want slum level new construction to live in either. Babcock Place should the model. Tenants love that place.

irvan moore 5 years, 3 months ago

how about building a new trailer park, seniors in florida and arizona like them

Mike Myers 5 years, 3 months ago

The concept of making Lawrence attractive to retirees is good but this version of it is inherently flawed. This is just another unsustainable version of sprawl. Hugh Carter, you need to understand this. A successful, attractive, and sustainable retirement community needs to be integrated into existing infrastructure and near existing services not in an east Topeka corn field. You should be looking at ways to improve existing neighborhoods through infill and improvement of existing housing stock. Think big, think integration. Make our existing neighborhoods walkable, bikeable and unique. Connect the dots...the answer is lurking just under the surface of what we already have. A retiree should be able to walk to everything and be in a dynamic multigenerational neighborhood. Look near downtown and near the river. This is where the answer lies.

Patricia Davis 5 years, 3 months ago

Have said this before. YES!!!!!!! When we travel we are always taken in by cities that are walkable and that have great public transportation. That have neighborhood bistros and unique stores. You can get mass everything everywhere, but the fun places are always unique. I think the new art district proposal is much more attractive for a planned senior development and I say this as a 63 year old.

blondejuan 5 years, 3 months ago

We should pay attention to the aging population. It is the fastest growing population segment in the US. By 2030 1/5 of our population will be over 55. We all are getting older, it will be all of us sooner than we think.

repaste 5 years, 3 months ago

"The project ideally would be located next to park land and athletic facilities" This about getting tax dollars for someone, location, developer are already decided.

Windemere 5 years, 3 months ago

As for the shiny-new-in-a-cornfield location vs. close to downtown, there's no clear-cut answer to that. My guess is that maybe 60 or so % of young retirees (e.g. 59 - 70) might be keen on the near downtown location. But I'd bet 80% of the older ones want to be farther from the "action". This type of facility with lots of amenities also requires a big land footprint. Not sure how one would would find that close to downtown. These type of facilities do seem to be poised for growth. People want to age in place, and the continuing care concept is popular and becomming more so.

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