A Rolls-Royce Retirement Community


America’s senior citizens number more than 30 million, the largest segment of the nation’s population, and more are enjoying their longer lives in robust health, both physical and fiscal.

To serve the housing needs of the top tier of this group, Ross Cortese, one of the pioneers in senior housing, is opening a luxury apartment complex today next to his Leisure World Laguna Hills.

The $30-million Rossmoor Regency, a retirement community of 192 apartments, is designed to match expensive hotels in decor, if not price. It is also envisioned as the forerunner of a national network of deluxe rental facilities offering retirees amenities comparable to resort hotels.

(Negotiations are under way to acquire the next site in the West Hollywood area but a spokesman for the Cortese organization would not specify the location.)

At the Regency, a prominently parked Rolls-Royce symbolizes the luxury of the project and is available by reservation for residents’ special needs. But all the basics are there, too.


A resident paying $1,750 a month gets two meals a day and Sunday brunch, has available a 24-hour intercom system, shuttle bus transportation to stores, banks, churches, hair salons and barber shops and other locations.

All utilities are paid and household maintenance, services of a managing director and her staff and a dietitian, weekly maid and linen service are provided. Personal telephone is not covered.

For a larger unit, two bedrooms and two baths, the rate is $2,400 a month. The monthly charge for a second person aged 55 or older in the apartment is $375.

The Regency is nearing the halfway mark through its pre-leasing program for the 192 apartments, according to executive director Maxie Helser. More than 1,500 inquiries were received last year during construction.

Its 82 renters include a dozen couples, while widows outnumber widowers. Ages range mostly in the 70-80 group; the eldest is 99, looking forward to celebrating her 100th birthday. Most are Southlanders but there are some from Florida and other states.

The Regency has 166 one-bedroom, one-bath units with 667 to 720 square feet and 26 two-bedroom, two-bath units with 987 to 1,064 square feet. Each unit’s French door opens onto an oversized patio or balcony.

The units have thermal, tinted glass and individually controlled central heat and air conditioning. Carpeting and draperies are included. Kitchenettes provide a self-defrosting refrigerator and freezer, a microwave oven, two-burner cook-top, disposal and sink and ample storage space. Baths have fiberglass tub and shower with grab bar.

Each unit has emergency call capability from bedroom and bath. The intercom provides contact between the unit and the communicaton center and security is maintained by patrolling guards.

Included in the monthly rental is an individual, long-term care guaranteed renewable insurance policy, covering skilled nursing, convalescent and home health care.

Cortese, 71, whose senior housing concept was in the vanguard of the movement when he opened Rossmoor Leisure World in 1961 in Seal Beach, can claim that more than 45,000 people now make their home in a Rossmoor community.

Describing his new project, he said, “The key words are luxury and rental. As our market has aged, they (seniors and retirees) have maintained their health and have achieved a degree of financial security.”

200-Seat Dining Room

“At the Regency, most have added to their financial security by investing the proceeds from the sale of their home, which has enabled them to enhance their life style, dispense with household chores and build an estate for their heirs.”

Other facilities at the Regency include an airy, 200-seat dining room designed in a garden motif, with its window opening out to a landscaped courtyard, a library with a marble fireplace, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and comfortable study and sitting areas; a beauty salon, notion shop and card room.

The 235,000-square-foot structure, with a Mediterranean motif of stucco exterior and tile roof, is located on a 5 1/2-acre site at 24441 Calle Sonora.

The heavily landscaped parking area leads to a 2,000-square-foot entry with travertine marble floor, a lounge and conversation areas.

Outdoor Center

The cheery entry, using teal blue, peach and mauve coloring, also has a 14-foot crystal chandelier, 10-foot windows, marble fireplace and seasonal flowers in planter boxes.

A 2,500-square-foot courtyard pavilion provides seating for 100 and will serve as an activity center for fashion shows, plays, concerts, lectures, movie and video viewing. A tropical theme is used throughout the 56,000 square feet of exterior landscaping.

The Regency also has four elevators, 11 laundry areas, trash and laundry chutes for maid service and a centralized mail room.

Firms involved in the Regency’s planning and construction included Charles L. Terry of Terry Architects, Irvine; Jim Pekarske, of Forsum/Summers & Partners, Inc., Dana Point, landscape architects; Jung Designs, Oakland, interior design, and Millie & Severson, Los Alamitos, general contractor.

Thus far, very few problems have popped up in the shiny, new surroundings of Rossmoor Regency. One tenant’s attempt to have the Rolls-Royce wheel him over to McDonald’s doesn’t really count as a serious matter--just a good try.