Ross W. Cortese, who introduced the Leisure World retirement housing concept in Seal Beach in 1960, has broken ground on a new $30-million luxury community for senior citizens in Laguna Hills, adjacent to the 1,400-acre Leisure World.
The new Rossmoor Regency at 24441 Calle Sonora, targeted for completion by early 1988, is the first in a planned nationwide network of luxury rental communities designed to serve the affluent, ambulatory elderly.
Cortese's newest congregate care concept for retirees combines the best of private apartment living with deluxe resort hotel amenities, according to Tom Kendall, managing director of Rossmoor Regency and vice president of Regency chain developments.
Designed in a low-rise Mediterranean motif by Terry Architects of Irvine, the three-story structure will include 192 units and a spacious interior courtyard with tropically themed landscaping.
Focal point of the courtyard will be a 2,500-square-foot hexagonally-shaped pavilion that will serve as an entertainment area for plays, movies, concerts, lectures and fashion shows.
A travertine marble floor entry in the main building opens into a large lobby with crystal chandeliers, 10-foot windows, marble fireplace and grand piano. Adjoining this common area is a 6,300-square-foot dining room in the tradition of world-class resort hotels, which will provide residents with two meals daily and brunch on Sundays.
On-site conveniences will include a library, with floor-to-ceiling stacks and fireplace, overlooking a landscaped inner court, a beauty salon and notions shop.
Floor plans will offer one-bedroom, one-bath units with 608 to 671 square feet or two-bedroom, two-bath units with 926 to 1,002 square feet. Rentals for single occupancy will range from $1,850 to $2,450 a month, with an additional $425 to $450 for double occupancy, and will provide security, utilities, household maintenance and linen service, two meals a day and brunch on Sundays, some educational and recreational activities, free bus tours and complimentary shuttle service to nearby Saddleback Community Hospital, medical centers, shops and restaurants.
Surrounding the 235,000-square-foot community will be about 56,000 square feet of tropical plantings, trees, pathways, gardens and outdoor seating designed by Forsum/Summers & Partners.
Both the physical design of Rossmoor Regency's apartments and its services are based on 25 years of experience in various sectors of Cortese's Rossmoor organization, both in developing and managing for the special needs of the affluent elderly.
"Housing for the elderly is a highly specialized business," Kendall said, noting that more than 45,000 older people reside in Rossmoor Leisure World communities today.
When Cortese set out to build his first Leisure World, he discovered that no comparable facility existed, Kendall said. "Housing needs for this growing population segment are still relatively unmet according to our research. This is reflected in the age of the 23,000 people who live in the Leisure World Laguna Hills today; the average age today has increased from 70 two decades ago, to the current average of 76 years of age."
More recently, Kendall added, family surveys have shown that a growing number of older persons favor renting to home ownership upon retirement. "We have also consulted with marketing specialists and gerontology experts to determine what features retired people desire the most in their life style and surroundings," he said.
Kendall listed as priorities security, recreation and educational facilities, convenient transportation, accessibility to nearby shopping and pleasant surroundings, all of which, the executive said, have been incorporated into the Leisure World and Rossmoor Regency communities.
Under the Rossmoor organization, Cortese's companies have built 25,663 units in Leisure Worlds, spanning 19 communities in seven states, including single-family units and high-rise condominiums, he noted.
Kendall reported that Regency communities are also planned for Silver Springs, Md., and Honolulu, Hawaii. And, like the Laguna Hills project, other sites will emphasize proximity to the services required by the elderly.