The Cedars going on 25 years

Published 8:30 am Friday, November 5, 2010

Darrel Fahr, owner of the Cedars of Austin, is this year celebrating 25 years in business. Fahr purchased the property, located across the street from Mill Pond, with a vision to create a dignified residential living unit for senior citizens. — Trisha Marczak/

Twenty-five years ago, Darrel Fahr made a decision to change the face of senior living in Austin.

Having owned numerous apartment buildings, Fahr was no stranger to the ins-and-outs of residential complex management, but his initial step into the world of assistance living provided him with a new challenge.

Judging by his 25 years of success, Fahr was ahead of his game.

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In recent years, comfortable senior living in apartment settings has become somewhat standard for the aging population — Fahr himself owns a number of senior living apartment complexes similar to The Cedars throughout the Midwest. But that wasn’t the case at the time Fahr introduced The Cedars to Austin.

With turmoil surrounding the P-9 strike against Hormel, Fahr worked to introduce a new concept to people who were dealing with changes that, for many, were seen as negative.

Despite the obstacles, The Cedars was running at full capacity within two and a half years of its creation — a surprisingly good time line, according to Fahr.

He said his draw to the industry was created out of his opinion that the elderly should be treated with respect and dignity.

“I thought I could have some fun and give something back,” he said.

The building that currently houses The Cedars of Austin was purchased by Fahr when it was a hotel, originally The Red Car Inn, initially built by the City of Austin. Since his purchase, he’s transformed the facility into a housing unit that includes 137 rooms and caters to even more.

The Cedars provides housing for those who wish to live independently, and those who require a little bit more care.

Essentially, those who do wish for more service are able to sign up for it. Those who don’t need assistance have an obligation to take part in any type of medical assistance.

“These people live with a lot of dignity,” he said. “That’s what we strove for, and that’s what we accomplished.”

On a regular basis, residents of The Cedars enjoy meals in a spacious dining room, a bus that takes them to places throughout town and a lively schedule of events, both in and out of the building.

And they’re able to stay in one place for years, rather than having to shuffle between assisted living centers and nursing homes.

In the end, Fahr said that’s what he was hoping to accomplish.

A celebration of The Cedars 25th anniversary is taking place with a scavenger hunt throughout town. The person who finds the key, planted somewhere in the city by Fahr’s wife, Naomi, will receive a prize of $2,500. Clues for the hidden key can be found daily in the Austin Daily Herald print edition.