Resort-style LGBTQ retirement community ushers in Palm Springs

Rainbow-colored helmets and shovels lined a 9-acre lot along East Tahquitz Canyon Way in Palm Springs on Friday morning, hours before the city’s Pride celebration. The groundbreaking ceremony was for Living Out Palm Springs, a planned retirement community for LGBTQ+ seniors dubbed a “first of its kind.”

The project, which was planned as a 105-room condo complex, was delayed about two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is now being built as a 122-unit, three-story apartment complex. It should be ready to move in by mid-2023.

Living in Palm Springs is the long-term dream of part-time Palm Springs resident and Los Angeles developer Loren Ostrow. Ostrow wanted to create a community where LGBTQ seniors can grow old in an open and supportive environment with their peers.

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“I wanted to provide a space where people could be comfortable with who they are as they age,” Ostrow, 70, told the Desert Sun earlier this week.

He just needed to find the right place.

That place was Palm Springs.

“This is the most LGBTQ-friendly place in America,” Ostrow said Friday, the San Jacinto Mountains behind him. “I’ve been talking about it for a very, very long time,” no less than 25 years ago, he added.

“Society still isn’t on the hump when it comes to accepting us, so I wanted to create a place where that wasn’t an issue for our people,” Ostrow said.

The development is near Arenas Road, the Center and DAP Health, all of which serve the area’s LGBTQ population.

“We are at the heart of the gay community,” Ostrow said.

Palm Springs Mayor Christy Holstege said the city is grateful that the developers, Ostrow and Paul Alanis, both of KOAR International LLC, chose the city as their flagship community.

The developers hope to replicate the project, or at least have similar ones across the country in places with large LGBTQ populations.

“What an exciting opportunity for our community,” Holstege said, noting Palm Springs’ reputation as one of the most gay cities in the United States. “We are going to become more and more gay with projects like this,” she added jovially.

She was greeted with laughter and applause.

Palm Springs Christy Holstege speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for Living Out Palm Springs, an active adult retirement community for LGBTQ seniors, Friday, November 5, 2021.

What will Living Out Palm Springs be like?

Living Out Palm Springs will have a variety of amenities – ranging from a putting green to massage rooms – and an on-site pet salon, pet daycare and boarding service. A dog park with areas for small and large dogs will be adjacent to the pet services building.

Rent prices should be in line with similar upscale independent living communities like Segovia in Palm Desert, Ostrow said.

Luxury apartments specifically for LGBTQ seniors currently do not exist in the local market, according to Holstege.

Stonewall Gardens in Palm Springs, a 24-unit seniors’ residence, is designed to meet the needs of LGBTQ seniors, but “assisted living” is different from “independent living.”

Living Out Palm Springs will not have nurses on staff, but residents will be able to age in place, bringing in their own caregivers if needed.

“My understanding is that most people would prefer to have their home help in today’s world,” Ostrow said.

Other on-site amenities inside will include:

  • movie theater
  • card room
  • game room
  • gym
  • restaurant and bar
  • community hall

Walking paths will be found on the west side of the three-pronged windmill-shaped building, while the north side of the property will feature a swimming pool and hot tub, an event lawn with a barbecue area, the practice green, a field petanque and a community. garden.

“It’s going to be quite an expansive set of gear,” Ostrow said.

And there will be plenty of opportunities to socialize. The lawn may even be open to the public for community events or fundraisers, Ostrow said.

“Especially in the COVID pandemic, we have seen data on isolation, especially among the LGBTQ population and projects like this really address this vital issue that we face,” Holstege said at the groundbreaking. .

Combat loneliness and isolation through community

Many LGBTQ seniors or near-seniors don’t have children, so they may have different calculations to make when deciding where to retire. Some, Ostrow said, may not even have a relationship with their family of origin, which exacerbates their need for a chosen community.

While older adults are already at greater risk of loneliness and social isolation, the aging experience of the LGBTQ population is even lonelier, he said.

According to a recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, people who identify as LGBTQ are less likely to live with a partner than non-LGBTQ people. According to the report, only 37% said they were parents of children over the age of 18.

“When we first came out two years ago, we had a tremendous reaction all over the country,” Ostrow said.

For the most part, he said, this demographic is not looking to commit to single-family homes, preferring an integrated community where it’s easy to be social, but also safe to be yourself. This will appeal to residents already in the area as well as those looking to retire to Palm Springs, Ostrow said.

Ostrow imagines most residents will be full-time. Although the area is known for its seasonal appeal, Ostrow said more and more people are staying year-round, especially as they get older.

Developer Loren Ostrow at the groundbreaking ceremony for Living Out Palm Springs, an active adult retirement community for LGBTQ seniors, Friday, November 5, 2021.

“There have been conversations about what kind of community will people stay away because of the health risk.” Ostrow said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic and its related restrictions. “I think people will seek it out more because now that the health risk is going down, they realize what a lack of community looks like and they don’t want that.”

Back to the project:

February 2018:LGBT-friendly retreat resort launched for Palm Springs, perhaps the chain’s flagship

June 2019:LGBTQ-Friendly Palm Springs Retreat Resort Gets Closer to Reality

October 2019:A new resort-style retirement community in Palm Springs will cater to LGBTQ seniors

Maria Sestito covers aging issues in the Coachella Valley. She is also a member of the Report for America body. Follow her on Twitter @RiaSestito, on Instagram @RiaSestito_Reporter or email her at [email protected]

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