After months of site preparation, a long-delayed gay and lesbian retirement project is starting to take shape in Fountaingrove.

Construction is well under way on the main building of the 109-unit Fountaingrove Lodge, which is expected to open by the end of next year.

In recent weeks, as many as 140 workers per day have been swarming over the 9.8-acre site between Thomas Lake Harris Drive and the Fountaingrove golf course.

"We're really pleased about how things are going," said Bill Mabry, a partner in Oakmont Senior Living, which is building the facility and also constructed the nearby Varenna senior community.

Site preparation, road and foundation work was tough because the site is rocky and so many trees are being preserved on the property, said Dave Hunter, project manager.

Indeed, the Craftsman-style cottages under construction and the southern end of the project are built so close to the existing oak trees that limbs are nearly touching the roofs.

There have been some complaints by neighbors concerned about the dust from the earth moving and workers' trucks being parked on the street, but those have largely been resolved.

Kyra Janssen lives in the development just to the north of the site and was a strong opponent of the project. She felt it was far too large for the site, even in its scaled-back version. She also felt the "quasi-commercial institution" shouldn't have been allowed between two residential areas.

The project includes not only high-end housing for gay, lesbian and transgender residents, but also a long-term care facility and worker housing.

Despite her concerns, Janssen says she's enthralled with the construction process, which she can see from her home.

"It's absolutely fascinating. It's creating a whole metropolis," Janssen said. "They have things coming and going all the time."

The impact on neighbors will be lessened once the shell of the main building is complete and work can move indoors, Mabry said.

"I think people are starting to understand that the faster we can build it, the faster we'll be gone," Mabry said.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or OnTwitter @citybeater.