Prospective residents of Splendido, the $80 million upscale retirement community in Oro Valley, have begun making payments of from $18,000 to $67,000 to convert their initial $1,000 deposits for resident eligibility into charter member status.

More than 200 people had initially signed up to become residents, but by converting their priority ranking to charter member status with payments representing 10 percent of the cost of a home, prospective tenants will be able to pick out one of 22 floor plans being offered, lock in the price of their home at the lowest point and apply for residency, said Bruce Rosenblatt, senior director of sales and marketing for Splendido.

Construction of the 240 independent residences, including terrace homes and villas on the 27-acre site, is scheduled to start in 2005, but hinges on being 70 percent resold. The process of converting to charter member status has just begin. The development, a joint venture of The Plaza Companies in Phoenix and Mather LifeWays, is scheduled to open in 2006.

"This is a very exciting time for us and our future residents," Rosenblatt said in a news release. "This is when people can really start envisioning their home and lifestyle in this exceptional community. Our ability to begin converting priority deposits to charter reservations is directly related to the exceptional response we've had to this project since its announcement just eight short months ago."

The continuing care community for residents 55 and over is expected to include 60 semi-detached villas ranging in size from 1,700 to 2,900 square feet and 200 terrace apartments ranging from 825 to 1,900 square feet in a three-story main building.

Residents will pay an entrance fee of $135,000 to $315,000 that allows them to remain in the community for the rest of their lives and entitles them to 100 days of assisted or skilled care in the development's on-site skilled nursing facility.

Ninety percent of the entrance fee will be refunded to residents if they leave, and to their estate in case of death, as a means of attracting tenants and creating value for them.

Additional monthly fees of $1,530

to $2,950 would cover the cost of providing 30 meals a month, weekly housekeeping, maintenance as needed, transportation, utilities and the use of such amenities as indoor

and outdoor swimming pools, a spa and fitness center, 18-hole putting course, the assisted living complex and an on-site nursing home.

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