A nearly $20 million development designed for seniors is coming to southwest Topeka.
Executives from a St. Louis-based development firm, alongside city and county officials, broke ground Wednesday morning on a new senior-living community coming to 6732 S.W. 17th St., just west of the Topeka Menards.
The community, Cedarhurst of Topeka, is expected to consist of a 75,000-square-foot campus offering 57 assisted-living apartments for seniors and 27 memory-care units. It will also feature private patios, two interior courtyards, multiple restaurant-style dining options, a physical-therapy-and-wellness center, a movie theater and a full-service beauty and barber shop.
“We came across Topeka and realized there’s quite a bit of a growing senior population here,” said Nick Dwyer, development manager for St. Louis-based Dover Development. “We felt there was a shortage of quality senior housing in the area to serve the folks in Topeka and Shawnee County. So that’s what brought us here.”
Dwyer said Cedarhurst of Topeka, which is part of the Cedarhurst Senior Living network, will cost between $15 million and $20 million to build. He expects development of the property to bring more than 100 construction jobs to the area and another 50 full-time jobs once the facility opens.
“Hopefully, we’ll be finishing up construction next fall, fall of 2022,” Dwyer said. “We’ll probably start accepting reservations early next year.”
Topeka city manager Brent Trout said facilities like Cedarhurst are important for Topeka, especially when it comes to keeping older members of the community here in the area.
“We need these additional types of facilities in order to provide that support, and options, to individuals,” Trout said. “We want to keep them here in Topeka if they enjoy Topeka.”
Shawnee County Commissioner Bill Riphahn said he is looking forward to the facility’s completion.
“I think this fills a need, a gap we have not only in Topeka but probably across the country for housing for the seasoned veterans of our society,” he said. “And I like the area, too. … We’re really seeing a lot of expansion and movement in this area now, and this will be another nice facility to have here.”
Kansas, Shawnee Co. seeing growth in 65+ population
Debra Harmon Zehr, president and CEO of LeadingAge Kansas, which connects the state’s seniors with local and regional resources, said Kansas’ population of residents age 65 and older is expected to grow substantially over the next 10-15 years, before leveling off.
She pointed to data available through the Wichita State University Center for Economic Development and Business Research, which indicates Kansas’ 65+ population is expected to grow by more than 20% by 2025. Data for Shawnee County show similar growth, with the local 65+ population expected to increase by more than 18% by 2025.
Zehr said the last of the country’s “baby boomers” — those born between 1946 and 1964, in the post-World War II era — becoming members of that 65+ population is a big part of the increase.
“We’re kind of in the middle of that,” she said. “Half of them have already reached 65. The other half are getting ready to. So we’re seeing a shadow, or echo, of the baby boom in the need for services.”
And with that increased need for services, comes a greater need for people who are able to provide such support.
“The need for workers that can provide services for older people — that’s a huge issue,” Zehr said. “When it comes to serving the older population, it is extremely critical to the wellbeing of those people. And there are humongous challenges with the number of people who are available, willing, trained and competent to provide services.
“That’s a parallel story that impacts the ability of facilities like Cedarhurst. … Will they be able to attract and retain adequate staff?”
According to Dwyer, with Dover Development, Cedarhurst of Topeka is the company’s first ground-up development in Kansas. He said the business is looking to tackle similar projects in the near future in several other Kansas communities.
Cedarhurst Senior Living manages more than 50 senior-living communities across nine states in the South and Midwest.