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Retirement home for gays and lesbians debuts in Fountaingrove

  • Fredrick Alexander and Steve McCullagh put up a sign for tours at Fountaingrove Lodge, a LGBT development. June 15, 2011.

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.

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