John Knox Village launches a $90 million update

06/03/2014 5:06 PM

06/05/2014 1:33 PM

John Knox Village is overhauling its senior community in Lee’s Summit, planning to invest $90 million in housing improvements through 2017, with more work expected to follow.

The continuing care retirement development is home to more than 1,500 residents at its 450-acre campus off U.S. 50 and Chipman Road. John Knox opened in 1970, and much of the new construction is to replace or upgrade older buildings.

“We see a need to stay current and modern,” said Dan Rexroth, CEO and president of John Knox Village, which was named after the 16th century Scottish founder of the Presbyterian Church but is non-denominational. “We also see baby boomers turning 75 in the year 2020, people in their 70s whom we’ve targeted. There will be huge numbers of people in that category.”

Researchers estimate there will be 300,000 people over the age of 65 living in the Kansas City area by 2020.

When the Rev. Kenneth Berg opened the retirement community, its approach to continuing care for seniors was relatively new. In recent years, however, there’s been a boom in senior housing development to accommodate the aging population.

Rexroth said today’s seniors live much more active lives and expect larger quarters.

“They like to stay connected in relationships, they like to volunteer and they like to stay healthy in mind, body and spirit,” he said. “That’s critical to people’s health throughout their life.

“Seniors also have changed in term of their expectations and living arrangements. They’re interested in larger units, although the recession caused a pause. We’re targeting the middle market, good-sized units, but for people interested in preserving their assets.”

The redevelopment plan includes completing several projects and the redevelopment of the Courtyard Apartments, a plan that will require the demolition and replacement of two buildings.

The Courtyard Commons also will be upgraded with a new casual restaurant, an expanded library and computer cafe, a modern salon, the relocation of staff offices and improved parking.

A 112-apartment development called the Meadows is planned for the heart of the campus. It will offer views of the golf course, fishing lake and Westminster Meadows. The apartments will range in size from 760 to 1,350 square feet and will have a mix of one- and two-bedroom floor plans.

“It’s really about the mission; it’s not about the buildings,” Rexroth said.

He added that eventually John Knox Village expects to rebuild its entire campus. Since most of the work involves replacing or renovating existing residences, the overall number of units is not expected to increase significantly.

“This is modest, incremental growth,” Rexroth said. “A lot is replacement product, generally larger in size.”

To reach Kevin Collison, call 816-234-4289 or send email to kcollison@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at kckansascity.

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