As a gay man without children, I sometimes wonder what life will be like for me in my twilight years. And based on my recent conversations with other men, it’s clear I’m not the only one pondering life in the not-so-distant future.
It’s enough of an issue that groups have formed to address it over the years, including SAGE, a prominently established organization in the US devoted to enhancing the lives of LGBTQIA+ mid-life and seniors. SAGE is a nationwide group founded in 1978 with its headquarters in New York City, providing LGBTQIA+ persons and their carers resources, support services, and consumer information.
SAGE is a particularly welcomed organization for those who may not have families or immediate family living nearby, which in both cases, can lead to feelings of isolation, lack of social support, and a disconnect from any real sense of community.
Recognizing this dynamic, a unique residential project —Gallo 64, has emerged to introduce a vibrant new inclusive living community that welcomes everyone but is particularly excited to welcome mature members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
The brainchild of handsome silver daddy and luxury furniture designer Lew Gallo, his namesake Gallo 64 is located on the Pacific border of Mexico and California in Pescadero.
I was immediately intrigued when Lew told me about this new development. I already knew Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, had become a gay-friendly destination over the years. Lew shared that even though Pescadero is more inland, it’s just a 5-minute drive to the beach. It also has the potential to attract a large segment of the gay population, though with less of a party-nightlife agenda than Puerto Vallarta.
We sat down for an interview recently to discuss Gallo 64 in more detail and its mission to be a safe, thriving environment for gays of a certain age and their allies. Lew explained, “Our vision is to create a vibrant, supportive, and close-knit community where like-minded individuals can come together, form lasting friendships, and build a strong social support system.”
The property is nestled within picturesque orchards and surrounded by serene farmland. It’s designed to defy the norms of traditional living with modern coastal Mexican design single-story homes constructed of rammed earth, cement, and metal-cased glass doors, creating a seamless blend of beauty and durability. It’s approachable and gorgeous without pretension.
Read my interview with Lew Gallo to learn more about this new luxury property with an LGBTQIA+ purpose:
CA: First, I must share that you are an incredible home decor and furniture designer who collaborated to make beautiful collections for major brands and clients over the years. What inspired you to become a designer in the home furnishings category?
LG: Thanks for the kind words. I owned a hair salon in SF in the 90s (Lew Gallo Salon), and I would bring photos of furniture I built to show my clients. I wasn’t trying to sell them. I was just proud of my work and wanted to share it. One client had me build a coffee table for his living room. That living room ended up being on the cover of Metropolitan Home, and my coffee table was front and center. That’s when I realized I had a future in Furniture design.
CA: So, regarding your current real estate project Gallo 64, let’s begin with a geography lesson for our audience – me included. Some people are confused because of its proximity to California; where is Baja? Is it actually in Mexico or California? And is Los Cabos a city within Baja? Help a brutha understand.
LG: Lol, That’s a good question. Yes, it can be a bit confusing. California was part of Mexico at one time, and Baja California is directly below it on the other side of the border. There are two states on the peninsula, Baja and Baja Sur. Gallo 64 and Cabo are in Baja Sur. Baja means ‘below’ in Spanish, and most people know of Cabo San Lucas (Cabo), but there is also San Jose del Cabo. The two cities are in the municipality of Los Cabos, Mexico. Gallo 64 is in Pescadero, 1 hour north of Cabo on the Pacific side.
CA: Over the years, Puerto Vallarta has become known not only as a hot spot for LGBTQ tourism but also as a destination for gay retirees. So how is Cabo different, and why should gay retirees consider it an alternative to PV?
LG: Puerta Vallarta is amazing. I used to go there often when I was younger. Cabo doesn’t have the same gay scene, but there is much opportunity here. I picture it becoming more of a grown-up version of Puerta Vallarta. Less about partying and the club scene and more about getting away, relaxing, enjoying great restaurants and resorts, and owning a beautiful home. It is also a very safe place. The weather is near perfect from Nov- May. June – October is still more relaxed and less humid than places like PV and PS.
CA: Do you feel there is the same level of acceptance for the LGBTQIA+ community in Baja as in Puerta Vallarta?
LG: I have lived in SF, Phoenix, Raleigh, and Dallas, and I feel the most safe here in San Jose del Cabo. I organize gay events and have been pleasantly surprised at the number of local businesses asking to participate. We have a great Pride celebration here. It is heartwarming to see how many families participate —baby strollers and all.
CA: You are a founding partner in FINN real estate group; what role does FINN play in bringing the vision of this new community in Mexico to life?
LG: We founded FINN to create a smaller, more intimate agency. With the rise in activity in the real estate market, so many agencies are growing in size. It’s not the number of homes we sell; it’s all about creating relationships and giving our buyers/sellers the best possible service. We are small and agile and can work fast as a team to make things happen.
CA: Like many new business projects, you had a few setbacks during the Covid onslaught that slowed things down. What stage of the project are you in now?
LG: The covid shutdowns defiantly slowed things down for Gallo 64, but the massive surge in the real estate market did a number on us. The local government has been unable to keep up with all the zoning and permits. Things are finally starting to get back to normal. We are set to break ground this fall.
CA: One of the things you shared in our early conversations that intrigued me was the mission of building a community for vibrant aging members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Speak a bit more about that, please.
LG: Well, first, let me clarify. The vision for Gallo 64 is to create a thriving community for gay men to move to while we are still young (especially young at heart), living whole lives and building solid friendships that carry us into our retirement. So the idea was not to create Gallo 64 as a retirement community but a community that will sustain its residents through all their phases in life.
But regarding retirement, as you mentioned, Palm Springs and Puerta Vallarta are both hot spots, and I love both places. But neither place checked all my boxes for retirement. Palm Springs has gotten expensive, and California, in general, is pricey. Baja Sur has very low property tax (.1%) and good affordable medical. Housekeepers, gardens, pool service, and in-home care are affordable here. Plus, it doesn’t get so hot, and we are surrounded by a cool ocean. Puerta Vallarta is less expensive to live in than Pescadero, but it tends to be hotter and more humid, and they have a higher crime rate.
CA: You have partners in Gallo 64, and it’s quite an ambitious project. When you presented your ideas to your potential partners, I wondered whether convincing them of your vision was hard or if they got it right away.
LG:I have two partners, Alex Mendez (builder) and Paulina Zepeda (architect). I am a big fan of their work together and would bring potential buyers to their homes for sale. This started a friendship, and one day, over coffee, I mentioned my idea of developing a gay vacation, live, retire community, and they said, “Let’s do it.” No “talking them into it” was needed. It’s been a fantastic partnership and the beginning of many future projects together.
CA: The name of the development is Gallo 64; Is there any added pressure to be successful with this project as it’s bearing your last name? And what does the “64” represent?
LG: We had a hard time coming up with the name. There are so many cheesy names of communities here, and we wanted to set ourselves apart from what is already here. This is a modern concept with modern architecture. We needed a name that represented that. Gallo 64 is my dream, and I will live there, so we felt putting my last name on it would show how personal it is to me. 64 is the road marker you turn off for Pescadero. Our thought is to develop other Gallo communities in other parts of Mexico, and they will be Gallo with the number for the road marker for that town.
CA: Tell me about El Pescadero, which, I believe, means “The fisherman” in Spanish. Where is it located, and why did you decide upon it as the location for Gallo 64?
LG: Pescadero is one hour north of Cabo and 20 minutes south of Todos Santos. It is part of the Tropic of Cancer. If you are flying over Baja Sur in a plane, you can easily spot it because it is a green spot surrounded by dessert. A large percentage of the basil sold in the US, as well as cherry tomatoes, peppers, and green beans, are grown there. Most of it is organically grown.
Very few places in the world offer lush green, fertile farmland and white sand beaches. Our residents will have access to harvest their organic produce and be just minutes from miles of beach. If you’re looking for a place to retire, live, or even enjoy for vacation, Gallo 64 is the perfect destination. We invite everyone to join us in the vision to create a brighter future surrounded by a caring and inclusive community.
CA: Thank you so much Lew. This has been great learning about Gallo 64, your passion for the project, and your mission for the LGBTQIA+ community. How can people learn more about it or how to tour the property?