Defining Homes Fall 2012: Retiring minds want to know

Posted on 05 Oct 2012 at 2:15am

The conveniences of retirement living are possible even in the Gayborhood

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Retirement communities can offer gay couples the conveniences of a hotel with the independence of single family living.

By Jose Ralat Maldonado

Defining-Homes-Cover-FALL-2012As former club kids age well past maturity, eventually thoughts amble away from nights at Sue Ellen’s or the Hidden Door, a chic meal at Monica’s Nueva Cocina or rustic bistro fare at Parigi, and toward a carefree spell at home — perhaps even a quiet one with likeminded contemporaries who enjoy peace and quiet more than see-and-be-seen.

Some move to Florida. But that’s so hetero.

A retirement community might sound the same, but increasingly, gay seniors are turning that way. And looking for queer-friendly accommodations.

Nestled in the Gayborhood between Turtle Creek and the Park Cities, the gated retirement community ParkGate Dallas offers the kind of stylish setting LGBT seniors can appreciate.

“We value the energy and variety a mix of people from all walks of life bring to our neighborhood,” says Chris Smith, ParkGate’s marketing director and senior living counselor regarding its Oak Lawn location. “Our residents are single men and women, couples and [same-sex] partners.”

Retirement communities target seniors by offering access to amenities that permit independence but also give the occasional assist, especially for those living alone, or who wish to limit driving or even noise. (Don’t expect teenagers roaming the courtyard at 3 a.m. in a senior facility.)

So, for instance, ParkGate houses an on-site hair salon/barbershop. If you’d rather not cheat on your regular stylist but don’t care to drive yourself, one of the staff drivers can zip you over in the refined comfort of a Lexus. The staff can, in fact, take residents almost anywhere they need to go — an autumn afternoon at the Nasher Sculpture Center, an evening excursion to the Winspear or grocery shopping at Whole Foods.

After a trip to the market, you can whip up an old favorite like rabbit paella with a versatile tempranillo in the facility’s kitchen and have the staff take care of the sticky brown bits. Residents who would rather leave the culinary calisthenics to the professionals can get chef David Jackson or his staff to prepare selections from weekly menus in a white tablecloth, restaurant-style setting.

“We’re not formal,” Smith insists, though recent selections on the menu have included blueberry pancakes and eggs Benedict, for that snazzy brunch feel.

ParkGate certainly offers individual residents freedom to go their own way. It also offers seniors group excursions to Dallas’ chic shopping meccas, including NorthPark Center (and not just for mall walking). Community activities like Wii Bowling (don’t knock it till you try it) and twice-weekly happy hour with complimentary wine keep everyone swinging. Try a hand at blackjack. But definitely, try the vino.

The 46 apartments — one of which, centenarian “super-ager” Lea, a former concert pianist for the San Francisco Ballet, has loaded with a six-foot grand piano—are available in 14 designs, from studios to two-bedroom, two-bath pads upwards of 1,000 square feet. Many of the apartments have panoramic views of downtown. Each unit is offered weekly housekeeping, trash pickup outside the door and laundry.

Gay guys especially still appreciate access to a gym, and can maintain a chiseled look with the help of weekly exercise classes in the on-site fitness center. Or you can sweat it out in the dry sauna or make a splash in the pool.

With living this good and with dear friends as neighbors, jetting away for a week on Fire Island seems like a downright chore.

OK, maybe you don’t need to give up all your old habits just because you’re getting older.

ParkGate Dallas, 2801 Wycliff Ave. Parkgatedallas.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 5, 2012.

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