Plans filed again for retiree-oriented project near Sixth and Queens Road

Courtesy: Grob Engineering/City of Lawrence

You hear how “aging in place” is a new trend, and I can attest that certainly was the case last weekend. The thermostat froze and the web of icicles on the Lazy Boy made it tough to get out of the chair. But there is a new development in the works for west Lawrence that is taking a more traditional approach to the aging in place trend.

We reported in September that plans had been filed for a small independent, senior-living facility at Sixth Street and Queens Road. Well, that project went before the Planning Commission in November and didn’t win immediate approval. Instead, planners and neighbors wanted to see a more specific set of plans. Those plans have now been filed with City Hall.

Lawrence businessman Robert Wilson has filed a preliminary development plan for 12 units of upscale duplexes to be built at 5275 W. Sixth Street, which is at the southeast corner of Sixth Street and Queens Road.

Wilson — who owns Lawrence’s Bridge Haven assisted living facility — said he’s designing the facility to accommodate people who want to age in place, or in other words, live in their homes as long as possible without having to go into an assisted living facility or nursing home.

That means Wilson is designing every duplex to have ADA-accessible bathrooms in every master bedroom, extra wide hallways and doors to accommodate wheelchairs and oversized 18-foot garages that allows for plenty of storage space for people who have accumulated a lifetime’s worth of treasures.

Wilson said he’s hopeful of winning city approval for the project. He said he’s just trying to follow through on a goal he’s heard from many leaders: Making Lawrence a destination for retirees.

“They have really been pushing that Lawrence is a good place to retire,” Wilson said. “There is something that draws people back to Lawrence. Lawrence is great for retirees with the theater, the restaurants and the basketball games. There has been good demand with a lot of baby boomers thinking about where they want to retire.”

But Wilson has stopped short of saying this new community will be exclusively for retirees. He said it will certainly be geared towards retirees — including a home owners association that has several rules geared toward that group — but he said the development also may be attractive to younger, childless couples who may be looking for some of the same amenities.

As for the design of the facility, Wilson and his engineers recently filed the preliminary development plan for the project. It calls for six buildings with two living units per building. All of the units will have at least two bedrooms and two baths, and will range is size from 1,400 to 2,000 square feet. Four of the units will have a basement that would allow for a third-bedroom. Wilson said he doesn’t yet have price points for the units, but said he intends them to be upscale.

The plans currently show a clubhouse at the center of the development, but Wilson said that part of the plan may change. The clubhouse may be scrapped and replaced with a large garden area.

If you are unfamiliar with the property, it currently has an old farmhouse and several outbuildings. Across the street is the new retirement community Village Cooperative. Wilson tentatively is calling his project Beckhaus Townhomes. He’s unsure when the project may get its final approvals. He said it is scheduled to be heard again by the Planning Commission in February.

Here’s a look at the plans that have been filed: