Inside the South Waterfront’s Innovative (and Luxe) Senior-Living High-Rise

A day in the life of Mirabella, complete with a morning Zumba class, a 7,000-volume library, Mandarin classes, and an evening choral performance.

By Alisha Gorder July 15, 2014 Published in the Health Annual: Summer 2014 issue of Portland Monthly

The view from Ron and Muriel Mendonca’s living room is spectacular. Large windows frame Mount Hood, and the Willamette winds 11 stories below. Step out on the patio, and St. Helens peeks out to the northeast.

Vistas like this are the rule at Mirabella, the South Waterfront high-rise luxury retirement community opened in late 2010. The 30-story, LEED Platinum–certified tower is home to 350 generally well-heeled seniors like the Mendoncas. (Entry fee is $309,000, with monthly dues starting at $3,772.) Aside from a stunning setting, Mirabella offers comprehensive long-term programs, on-site rehab—not to mention an ambitious slate of activities that would daunt even a much younger set.  

A potential day in the life of a Mirabellan: 


When it’s nice out, resident Beverley Healy, 78, gets her blood pumping with a walk around the South Waterfront. She and three fellow residents follow a three-mile loop beginning with a climb up 132 stairs and ending along the waterfront. During winter months, Healy switches to the treadmill and joins other fitness-inclined residents in the gym. Senior-friendly exercise equipment uses air-resistance technology, which reduces strain on joints and connective tissues and promotes a safer workout. Mirabella also offers a wide range of group fitness programs, including chair fitness, tai chi, Zumba, and mat Pilates, as well as aqua aerobics in the 50-by-20-foot indoor pool


Midday makes the perfect time to sit down with a book in the 7,000-volume library, entirely resident-donated and resident-organized. On-site classes range from Mandarin to oil and still-life painting to needlework. Resident Bob Ivey, 86, teaches woodworking on an individual basis on his own equipment, donated to Mirabella after he and his wife moved to the retirement community from their Lake Oswego home.


Social hour begins at 5 pm and goes until 7:30 or 8 pm. Residents can take advantage of drink specials or enjoy a bottle of wine, uncorked free of charge, with friends. No reservations required to dine at the Aria West buffet on the 24th floor, and movies are shown several times a week in Willamette Hall, Mirabella’s auditorium, where outside acts like the Portland State University Choir also perform. The room is large; resident interest is larger. “Willamette Hall needs to be doubled in size,” Muriel Mendonca says.

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