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Another project hoping to attract retirees files plans in west Lawrence; looking at whether local Gap store will close


Maybe the ghost of a Furr’s cafeteria roams the intersection of Sixth and Queens Road. Maybe it was the site of Lawrence’s first canasta game. Whatever the reason, the intersection is becoming a magnet for retirees and other senior living projects.

As we have reported, construction is underway on the Village Cooperatives, a 52-unit senior living facility on the southwest corner of Sixth and Queens Road. Now, plans have been filed at City Hall for a senior living project at the southeast corner of the intersection.

Robert Wilson — owner of the Lawrence-based Bridge Haven group of assisted living facilities — is seeking to rezone about 2.5 acres at 5275 W. Sixth St. to accommodate a small, gated community for active seniors or retirees.

“I can see it being more for active seniors who had a house, sold it, like to travel but still want that home setting,” said Wilson, who noted the plans are still in their early stages.

Wilson said his current thinking is the development would be about 12 to 15 units and would be marketed as more of an upscale development with a small clubhouse. Residences would be built with seniors in mind, and that means more than just wide halls, one-floor living and other such standard features. It also includes lots of storage because Wilson said he hears from seniors all the time that they “accumulate a lot of stuff,” during a lifetime. He said many of the units probably would have extra-deep two-car garages that could provide a lot of storage.

The zoning request with City Hall said the property likely would include a mix of duplexes, triplexes and four-plexes.

Unlike Bridge Haven properties, this development won’t be an assisted living facility. But Wilson said he really liked the property and saw an opportunity to do a development that is a bit different from other senior communities in town.

“I just think it is going to be a really good fit,” Wilson said. “I’ve seen it done in other towns where there is a small community for active seniors, and it is really popular.”

Wilson said he thinks the property also will be a drawing card. If you are having a hard time picturing the location, it is a little slice of the country that has become surrounded by the city. A white farm house with some outbuildings sits on top of the hill on the southeast corner of the intersection.

“It is probably one of the higher lots in Lawrence,” Wilson said. “You have some great views.”

Wilson said he hopes to begin construction on the project this spring. The development still must win several approvals from City Hall. The land does not currently have the proper zoning for the development and also will require site plan approval.

The site of a proposed retiree community near Sixth and Queens Road.

The site of a proposed retiree community near Sixth and Queens Road. by Chad Lawhorn

In other news and notes from around town:

• I’m wearing an outfit today that may cause some people to think all clothing stores closed down sometime around 1988. That, of course, is not the case, but there is reason to wonder whether Lawrence’s Gap store is set to close.

The company earlier this week announced that it plans to close about 200 Gap and Banana Republic stores. Some of you have been asking whether the Lawrence Gap store at 643 Massachusetts is on the list of stores to close?

The simple answer is Gap has not yet released a list of stores it plans to close. The company also hasn’t released a timeline for when it will do so. Whether Lawrence will land on that list would be nothing more than a wild guess. The company is looking to close underperforming stores to address “significant and acute” sales downturns at both the Gap and Banana Republic.

Statistically, Lawrence has a good chance of avoiding closure. Gap’s parent company operates about 2,000 Gap and Banana Republic stores combined. The company plans to close 200 stores across both chains, so roughly 10 percent of the total.

One other item to keep an eye on with Gap’s parent company is plans to expand its Old Navy chain of stores. That chain has been performing better, and the company plans to open 270 new locations for Old Navy and Athleta. Old Navy used to have a store in Lawrence — where Ross is now located in the south Iowa street corridor — but it closed at the end of 2011 when the company was changing its strategy to have stores with less square footage. Old Navy, I was told by sources in the real estate industry, wanted to remain in Lawrence but was unable to renegotiate its lease for a smaller footprint. I continue to hear that the retailer is interested in returning to Lawrence. It has been publicly mentioned by the development group seeking to build retail south of the SLT and Iowa Street interchange as a retailer who would be a likely tenant for the center. Of course, there are some other vacant spaces in town too, so it will be interesting to watch whether Old Navy tries to move into one of those spaces.


Richard Heckler 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Why would seniors and such want to retire in Lawrence,Kanss considering the conservatives in office want to kill social security insurance and medicare insurance?

The large majority Kansas politicians are not friendly to senior citizens. Our 5 delegates in Washington DC are also working against the middle class and retirees.

Considering all of the above where are enough retirees going to come from?

What is it about the Lawrence real estate industry and city commission that think over loading markets makes dollars and sense? This can have a devastating impact on local property values.

David Holroyd 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Active seniors...just what is an active senior ? How old are these folks.Will they have parking for the RV motor homes the "active" seniors will take trips and travel in...


Brett McCabe 9 months, 2 weeks ago

The strategy by Gap is interesting and indicative of overall trends in retail. First, they are closing stores. Second, they are seeking smaller footprints. Third, they are focusing on low-cost leader outlets which can compete better with online retailers.

This strategy, which will be followed by more and more retailers creates real, long-term implications to communities when it comes to development, property tax revenue, sales tax revenue and wages.

Smaller footprints mean a trend towards a reduction in commercial property tax. It also means that extending the borders of your town to accommodate the New Tanger Mall may not be the wisest choice, unless that entity agrees to pay the cost of infrastructure in perpetuity and can put up a bond to insure the promise.

Additionally, low-cost stores mean lower purchase prices which mean lower sales tax collections. And, finally, other than Costco there are virtually no price-leader retailers that pay anything remotely close to a livable wage - and I don't think Old Navy is trending that direction.

If Academy and Old Navy want to come to town, they could easily redevelop and split the building currently owned by the illegal smuggling operation known as Hobby Lobby. There's nothing stopping either major corporation from moving forward in Lawrence - we have the locations if they want to come to town.

David Holroyd 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Hobby Lobby,,,that bldg is old and tired...it was Montgomery Ward,JC Penney..knock it down and start over.... then they will have a smaller bldg thanks to DR McCullogh's dept of Proctology ,,,you see there will be trees and setbacks and all kinds foo foo...

Now Payless is closed, so is Pier One ,so is Applebees on 6th , so is Half Priced books care to add the the list...Mr.McCabe the expert on zoning, architecture and retail.?

Andy Craig 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Every time I see David and Richard commenting on the same article I always think of the two old guys in the balcony on the muppet show. And I mean this in a nice way.

David Holroyd 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Well, Andy I am happy to keep you amused but I am displeased with Richard because HE WON'T mow my grass...I guess I will have to get Ms Piggy to seduce him...

Maybe Ms. Piggy can get the roof fixed on the Mausoleum.....! YOU THINK that she , ms piggy, would seduce Commissoner Boley and get the info on how much HERE has taken in from the parking meters..Boley is awfully quiet.

you don't suppose some of the money go to him and he SEDUCED ms Piggy...they went to St Joe together to find Mr. Farmer....

Ms. Piggy, Mr. Boley and Mr. Farmer...a photo for the JW "friends and neighbors"...

what happened to that section..? down the drain...?

Let me tell you...that balcony is one mighty fine balcony as it was inspected by Dr., McCullough of the Proctology Department...I told Richard to not lean over too far...what with a Proctology Department inspecting...Tyson's has to get nuggets someplace :)

Kathleen Christian 9 months, 1 week ago

Lawrence needs to develop more Senior community for Low-income individuals. There are only 4 in this town. Two high-rise institutional apartments and 2 townhome like communties. The need to create larger units where a full size couch can actually fit in the livingroom and a chair and still be able to walk around it. Include a bathtub and bedrooms large enough to accommodate a full-size bed and dresser. They unit they have way too small. I don't know what the upcoming Seniors are going to do other than to move out of Lawrence to be able to afford to have a roof over their heads. Lawrence does not need more student housing.

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