New $20M senior living center opens in northwest Lawrence; new report shows the gap between younger and older voters

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

CedarHurst of Lawrence, 4550 Bauer Farm Drive, is pictured on April 24, 2024.

A new $20 million project has opened in northwest Lawrence — and it features all-day dining. Now, that’s a buffet I would like to see.

Actually, the project is not some mega-eatery, but rather is a new 76-room assisted living and memory care facility just northwest of Sixth and Folks Road.

Cedarhurst of Lawrence opened earlier this week at 4550 Bauer Farm Drive. If you are having a hard time picturing the location, it is basically next door to Theatre Lawrence, or a bit south and east of Free State High.

We first reported on the project in late 2021, and the development has been one of the larger construction projects in the city over the last year. Despite the amount of time that has passed since it was first proposed, it largely is the same project. It features 53 assisted living units — which are the type of unit where residents still have many of the features of independent living, but also have housekeeping and medical staff in the building to provide assistance. The development also includes 22 memory care units, which are supported by additional medical staff who have a specialty in providing care for people who may be experiencing dementia or other such conditions.

But what about that all-day dining? That’s a big selling point of the St. Louis-area company that operates Cedarhurst and other similar facilities across the region. It is not quite like cruise ship dining where you wander up to a buffet that is always stocked. (Wander is one description for how I do it. Transported via forklift with a “wide load” sign attached is another.) Instead, Cedarhurst’s dining program is structured more like a restaurant that is open all hours of the morning, day and evening.

That’s a bit different from some other facilities, where dining is more cafeteria-style with residents eating at a certain time each day and the menu is largely confined to one or two entrees.

“We just want to make sure they have the freedom to choose what they want to eat, and they can have it when they want,” Ryan Davis, a spokesman for Cedarhurst, said.

He said dining service includes table service by wait staff, regular restaurant-style menus and, as a bonus, the dining facility serves breakfast all day.

photo by: Submitted

A gathering area at Cedarhurst of Lawrence is shown.

Davis said other features of the Lawrence facility include a movie theater for residents and a number of outdoor courtyards. The facility also operates an activities program for residents that frequently adds or changes program offerings based on the activity suggestions the staff receives from residents through quarterly surveys.

The facility was developed and is operated by Clayton, Missouri-based The Dover Companies. Its Cedarhurst division operates about 60 senior living communities, with most in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. But the company has been pretty active in Kansas of late. It now has locations in Topeka, Salina and is opening one in Wichita.

Davis said the company was attracted to Lawrence because demographics show strong growth in the city’s senior population, driven in part by KU alumni coming back to retire in a community that they had fond memories of when they were younger.


In other news, I thought this new report from the Census Bureau paired well with news of a new senior living community. The Census report looks at voting trends, and, historically, one of the favorite activities of seniors has been voting.

This latest report confirms that contention, while also showing that — despite a fair amount of activism by the younger generation — the fervor hasn’t sparked an uptick in voting by the 18-to-29 age group.

The U.S. Census Bureau this week released its report detailing voting patterns for the 2022 November midterm elections, which featured races for all seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, along with some U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races in some states.

Specifically, the Census Bureau looked at how well voting totals matched up to overall population. For example, people 65 and older make up nearly 24% of the voting age population in America. But, people in that age group accounted for a little more than 30% of all voters. In Census parlance, that means the 65 and older population is overrepresented by about 6 percentage points among the voting public.

The 18 to 29 age group, on the other hand, makes up nearly 20% of the voting-age population, but accounted for just less than 12% of actual voters. In Census terms, that means they were underrepresented by about 8 percentage points.

The Census Bureau noted that the 8-point gap was higher than the roughly 7-point gap that occurred during the 2018 midterm elections. In other words, the young generation seemingly was less enthusiastic about voting in 2022 than in 2018. However, it also is important to note that 2018 was a high-water mark of sorts. The Census Bureau has been producing this voting trends report since the 1960s, and that 7-point gap in 2018 was the smallest such gap on record. The 2022 gap is the second smallest gap; thus there is some sign that the activism of the younger generation is having some positive impact on their likelihood to vote.

Here are some other findings from the Census report, which was produced through the Census’ survey program rather than through actual voter roll data:

• People age 30 to 44 were underrepresented by 2.5 percentage points.

• People 45 to 64 were overrepresented by 3.7 points.

• White voters were overrepresented by 6.9 points.

• Black voters were underrepresented by 1.6 points.

• Asian voters were underrepresented by 1.2 points.

• Hispanic voters were underrepresented by 3.7 points.

• Married voters were overrepresented by 9.2 points.

• Never married voters were underrepresented by 9 points.

The report did provide one piece of data broken down via state. The chart below shows the gap for 18- to 29-year-old voters. The orange dot shows the percentage that 18- to 29-year-olds represent in terms of the voting-age population. The blue dot shows the percentage of 18- to 29-year-olds in terms of the population that actually voted. In a statistically perfect world, the blue dot would be in the same spot as the orange dot.

photo by: Census Bureau

This chart shows voting patterns of 18- to 29-year-olds by state.

One takeaway from the chart is that you will notice that in no state are 18- to 29-year-olds overrepresented in terms of the total voting population. Young people everywhere are less enthusiastic about voting than other age groups. Wisconsin, Washington, D.C., and Oregon have some of the smaller gaps. South Dakota and Nebraska have some of the biggest gaps.

Another takeaway is that Kansas has a gap that is about average. About 21% of the voting-age population in the state is 18 to 29 years old. That age group made up about 12.5% of actual voters. That 8.5-percentage-point gap was in line with the approximately 8-point national gap.

The last thing I’ll point out actually isn’t related to voting. The chart, though, does a good job of showing which states have a lot of 18- to 29-year-olds versus very few. I think many folks would be surprised to see that Kansas has more 18- to 29-year-olds than most states. You hear about brain drain and shrinking rural communities, and you assume that age group would be relatively small. The chart shows, however, that Kansas has the 15th highest percentage of 18- to 29-year-olds of all the states.

Perhaps that can qualify as your fun Friday fact (if you are having a particularly slow Friday.)


Welcome to the new Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.