In the hills of Santa Rosa's Fountaingrove neighborhood, the public this weekend can get an early glimpse at the nation's first gay and lesbian retirement community with continuing care.
Most of the Fountaingrove Lodge project won't be built for 18 months. But on Saturday and Sunday, visitors can look through a completed model unit or take a tour of the oak-covered slope where the main, three-story building will feature a day spa, movie theater and wine cellar.
The project, by the developers of the nearby Varenna senior community, won City Council approval in 2010 after five years of controversy over environmental impacts. Neighborhood opposition greatly diminished after the project was scaled back.
The nation has relatively few facilities specifically for seniors in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community.
What makes Fountaingrove different is that it will be the first such facility in the U.S. that also is licensed as a continuing care retirement community. As such, it will have a care center for residents suffering Alzheimer's or dementia.
Bill and Cindy Gallaher, the project developers, longtime local builders and the principals of Oakmont Senior Living, said gays and lesbians will find the facility an appealing place to live.
Fountaingrove Lodge will provide support from staff and neighbors, Cindy Gallaher said. It will be a place "where you don't have to explain yourself, where you're really comfortable and relaxed."
The project, at 4200 Thomas Lake Harris Dr., will include 64 residential units in the main building and six residential bungalows. The site will feature 12 units for employees and a 22-unit care center for residents suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia.
Features will include a swimming pool, fitness center, dining rooms and cocktail lounge. Residents will receive maid service, chauffeured transportation and concierge service.
Entrance fees will range from $295,000 to $925,500, with monthly fees ranging from $2,425 to $6,125. Units range in size from 830 to 2,001 square feet.
Entrance fees are fully refundable for most residents who move or die, said Molly Gallaher, senior marketing director. Some residents can choose instead to receive back 50 percent of entrance fees in return for lower monthly fees.
Already 42 people have provided $1,000 deposits to be placed on a waiting list. On Monday, prospective tenants will be able to put down 10-percent, refundable deposits in order to reserve a specific unit.
Mark Supper, executive director for Gay & Lesbian Elder Housing in Los Angeles, called the development of Fountaingrove Lodge "wonderful news."
Supper, whose group develops affordable housing, said the nation needs a variety of housing types "where people can be open as to who they are."
Support also came from Joy Silver, CEO for the company that operates RainbowVision Santa Fe, which became the nation's first assisted living community for senior gays and lesbians.
"It's all important that these communities exist because our population needs to have the options that everyone else have," she said. That includes "a chance to share our experiences."