LJWorld.com weblogs Town Talk
Multimillion-dollar retirement project comes to a close; where Lawrence ranks in the list of best college basketball towns
This thought hit me recently: Retirement homes may become wild and crazy places in the near future. Scary as it may be, the people who are getting ready to retire are those who lived during the 1970s disco and party scene. Well, I don’t know if a disco ball is on the amenity list, but a multimillion-dollar retirement facility is now complete in west Lawrence, and yes, it does include a bar.
The new Pioneer Ridge Independent Living Center near Harvard and Wakarusa officially opened for business last week. Debbie Walker, regional director of independent living for Pioneer Ridge’s parent company, said the project includes 77 apartments for people 55 and older.
“We have tried to design it with a really progressive style,” Walker said.
That includes a large “hub” area that features a fireplace, a pool table and a full bar. In addition, there is a fitness club with equipment geared toward the 55-plus population, a theater with a hearing loop system, an area dedicated to arts and crafts, and a space devoted to restaurant-style dining service.
“We have had a few people comment that they want to move in before they are 55,” Walker said.
The project has been a big one in west Lawrence for more than a year. In 2015, the city issued $12 million worth of permits at the Pioneer Ridge campus. Walker said the project has been an even longer time in the making. The project has been an important one for the company because the addition of assisted living units gives the Pioneer Ridge campus a true continuum of care concept. The campus long has had the skilled nursing unit, and a rehabilitation unit. The assisted living component was lacking until the expansion project.
The assisted living project includes a mix of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments. All units come with a meal plan and transportation options for residents. But residents can choose other levels of service depending on their individual situations.
As for the units themselves, Walker said they were designed with a “full-home concept.” That means units do have kitchens, including granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Walker said interest in the new units, which were built just to the south of the longtime Pioneer Ridge facility, has been strong.
“We are seeing a lot of retirees who want to come back to Lawrence,” Walker said. “They love the KU culture, the vibrancy of Lawrence and they love being close to health care.”
Walker said the apartments, with the meal plans and transportation, are leasing from $2,400 to $4,200 per month, depending on the size of the unit and other factors.
In other news and notes from around town:
• While we are on the subject of bars, some of you keep asking me for more information about the Blue Moose Bar & Grill near Sixth and Wakarusa Drive. I would say you should look for that project to open soon. City commissioners at their meeting tonight are scheduled to approve the drinking establishment license for the bar and restaurant.
• As editor of the newspaper, I sometimes get asked why the Journal-World doesn’t have a religion section. I reply that we do: We cover KU basketball practically every day of the year. (Apologies, and yes, my family does stand far away from me out of fear of lightning bolts.)
But if one new report is to be believed, there are even places crazier than Lawrence for college basketball. The financial website WalletHub recently released its list of Best and Worst Cities for College Basketball fans.
Brace yourself: Lawrence was ranked No. 7.
No. 1 on the list is Chapel Hill, N.C.. Granted, they have a good basketball program there, and will continue to have one — as long as Kansas keeps supplying them coaches.
No. 2 on the list is Los Angeles, which is home to UCLA. You may find this one surprising since I suspect you could go to many a dinner party in L.A. and never have the topic of college basketball come up. But there is an explanation: Bill Walton sent the report’s authors a batch of brownies before they began their work.
No. 3 on the list is Durham, N.C., home to Duke University. This one may be legitimate. They pay their basketball coach $7.3 million, which is roughly equal to the number of points his name is worth in a Scrabble contest.
No. 4. is Bloomington, Ind., home to the University of Indiana. Indeed, it is such a great place for college basketball fans that fans of the University of Indiana get their own special tournament this year called the NIT.
No. 5 is Philadelphia, home to reigning national champion Villanova. Yes, Villanova is in Philadelphia. The Villanova Alumni Association is 95 percent certain of it.
No. 6. is East Lansing, Mich., home to Michigan State. This clearly shouldn’t count. They are measuring only half their community. If Lawrence was only measured by the residents of East Lawrence, we too would be ranked high on all sorts of lists.
So those are the towns that supposedly are better places for college basketball fans than Lawrence. The authors of the report looked at factors such as Division I championships, regular season championships, ticket prices, stadium capacities and other metrics aimed at measuring fan engagement. Evidently no extra points were given for having the gravesite of the founder of basketball, and the original rules of the game. None of it sounds very scientific to me — certainly nothing approaching the science we use to fill out our NCAA tourney brackets.
If for some reason you are interested in seeing the full list, you can do so here.