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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.