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overture chape hill 55 active adult apartment

Corbinton in Chapel Hill Magazine

Isabel and Efrain Piñeiro adore their +55 Community

By Marie Muir

(Photography by Beth Mann)

Soft morning light and the savory smell of fried plantains fill the air. Across the Kitchen island, an open-concept, spacious floor plan unites the dining and living rooms. Sunday brunch in Hillsborough’s Corbinton Commons neighborhood is a weekly tradition for Isabel “Izzy” Piñeiro, 75, and Efrain “Frank” Piñeiro, 78. 

Izzy and Frank, originally from Puerto Rico, moved to Durham from Long Island, New York, in 1985 when Frank got a job with Dialight in Roxboro. After living in Durham and Rougemont for more than a decade, the couple moved in 2001 to Hillsborough, where Izzy worked for a printing company and as nanny. In 2016, an incident at their townhome caused Izzy and Frank to reevaluate their living situation. 

“I fell down,” Izzy says. “When I missed the step, I thought I was going to break my hip. That’s when we started looking for a place that was flat, with fewer steps.”

Izzy started seeing signs for Corbinton, an active adult community. She was sold on the location alone. “I like Hillsborough, and this area is quiet, tranquil and peaceful,” Izzy says. “Everything is more convenient –we [have] easy access to stores, hospitals and the highway.”

The couple moved into their Corbinton home in 2017 and feel more at ease since downsizing. 

“I like the floor because it’s the most convenient, and my master bedroom is downstairs,” Izzy says. “The kitchen is open concept, and I like that because I can see everything that’s happening in the living room and outside. It’s roomy, I got more cabinet space, and I love where my washing machine is –convenience is the best thing about this place. This is one of the best houses I’ve lived in in my life because everything is downstairs and convenient. [For] anyone who’s getting older, living on one floor is the best.”

Before the Coronavirus outbreak, Izzy and Frank could expect any number of visitors –from their two kids and five grandkids, who are between the ages of 16 and 26 and live close by, to neighbors who stop by for Puerto Rican cooking classes or coffee. Every week, several women gather at the front of the neighborhoods to take socially distanced walks into town.

“I love walking in the mornings,” Izzy says. “We start at the front of the neighborhood and then we walk together –we have three trails, two that go into town and one that goes in a circle around the neighborhood. If we walk into town, we have coffee from Cup A Joe. It’s about three miles there and back.”

In addition to scenic walks, Izzy and her friends take part in hobbies like the traditional Chinese tile game mahjong, bookclub, potlucks, listening to music, knitting, gardening and fireside chats in the communal outdoor patio area. Corbinton’s indoor community is currently under construction. It’s that social aspect that makes Corbinton feel like home to the Piñeiros. 

“People were kind in our old neighborhoods, but Corbinton is more of a community,” Izzy says. “Everyone is very friendly –if you need groceries, people will offer to pick them up for you.”

Until it’s safe to venture farther than their tight-knit town again, the couple is thankful for social distancing activities and downtime at home with Mango, their 23-year-old cockatiel, and 11-year-old teacup Yorkshire terrier, Highway.  

Chapel Hill Magazine | Welcome to the Neighborhood | Pages 84-86