[senior communities] were all straight. And, when it [Fountaingrove Lodge] was this quality it was even more appealing.”
“Life is going to be like a resort. It’s not my dad’s old people’s home,” chimed in Gielow, who is 78, a retired winemaker, and in 1957 founded K101 Radio in San Francisco.
Built on the flank of the oak-studded hills overlooking downtown Santa Rosa, Fountaingrove Lodge features 64 one and two bedroom apartments in a three-story main building and six one or two-bedroom bungalows.
Amenities include everything from an art studio, a fitness center, wine cave, and private bank branch to a main dining room with a glamorous deck, a heated pool, both community and kitchen gardens, and walking trails.
At the grand opening held November 20, Cindy Gallagher, who developed Fountaingrove Lodge with her husband, Bill Gallagher, took a quiet moment to confess that she would be happy when the evening was over. The couple owns and operates several senior communities in California, Washington state, and Nevada under the company name Oakmont Senior Living.
Some 500 people had responded to the open house invitations and the building was abuzz with well-dressed couples and singles, media reps, local dignitaries, and helpful staff members. Parking was valet only and there were several wine bars and hors d’oeuvres stations set up to receive the guests.
“We’re really excited to finally have it happen,” Cindy Gallagher said. “It took many years, but the city was very supportive of the concept. That never was a problem.”
The couple purchased the 9.8-acre property in 2005, and spent the next eight years designing and building it, and squiring it through a sometimes-thorny approval process.
In the early years some residents at an adjacent development objected to the project, saying it was too large and not appropriate for the setting. But, some Fountaingrove Lodge supporters suggested that the neighbors’ real objection was that it was an LGBT community.
By last Friday, two days after the big party, the community was quiet, the air smelled of compost from the freshly dug garden beds, workers were unloading boxes from a couple of huge moving trucks provided by Fountaingrove to its new residents, and kitchen staff was preparing to serve the community’s first dinner. About a dozen residents were moving in that day and more were scheduled for Monday, including Sharp and Gielow.
Living at Fountaingrove Lodge requires a refundable entrance fee of $189,500 to $925,500 and a monthly charge of $3,395 to $6,125. A second person sharing a unit pays a smaller monthly fee only. The money includes maid service, meal tickets, and most services except private medical.
In-home support and medical services are available for an extra charge and there is also a 22-unit “memory” facility on the property called the Terraces. Residents in the active living units are allowed to have up to two pets and a dog park is available for their use. There is also employee housing on the property
According to the Gallaghers, the community is already 65 percent reserved.