Prairie Village’s Claridge Court celebrates 20 years

Roe Taliaferro, flanked by former Kansas City, Mo., mayor Kay Barnes (left) and Prairie Village Mayor Laura Wassmer, now lives in the senior living community he approved as mayor in the mid-1990s.
Roe Taliaferro, flanked by former Kansas City, Mo., mayor Kay Barnes (left) and Prairie Village Mayor Laura Wassmer, now lives in the senior living community he approved as mayor in the mid-1990s.

When Monroe Taliaferro was mayor of Prairie Village in the early 1990s, one of the biggest issues facing the city council was what to do with a proposal to bring a 241,000 square foot senior living community to the vacant lot at the corner of Somerset Drive and Mission Road.

The problem, Taliaferro recalled, was that the proposed Claridge Court development would be a not-for-profit entity, meaning the city was being asked to sign off on a development on prime real estate that would bring in no revenue for the city.

“We’d have this whole acreage devoted to a not for profit and we’d get no tax,” he said.

But with a bit of negotiation, Taliaferro and the council were able to work out an arrangement with the development’s owners to pay the city a tax similar to what they would have been assessed had they been a for-profit.

Twenty years later, Taliaferro couldn’t be more glad that the governing body came to terms. He and his wife Helen have lived in the retirement community, which celebrated 20 years in operation at a big ceremony in their outdoor courtyard last week, for six years.

“I had a thought that if we ever needed to be someplace like this, this would be a good place,” Taliaferro said of his thoughts on the facility back in the mid-1990s. We had lived in Prairie Village since 1962. We wanted to stay.”

The building was fist approved for occupancy in January 1995, but, says current executive director Rob Salierno, management decided to hold a 20th anniversary celebration in the spring in hopes of having great weather for out-of-town guests to enjoy.

In addition to remarks by Salierno and Taliaferro, the ceremony included speeches by current Prairie Village Mayor Laura Wassmer and former Kansas City, Mo., mayor Kay Barnes.