With a contemporary urban design and emphasis on affordability, the Long Beach Senior Artist Colony housing development will break ground later this year in an innovative project catering to the young and creative at heart.

    The Senior Artist Colony is a two-phase, multi-million-dollar affordable senior rental housing project at 1235 Long Beach Blvd. near the city’s Metro Blue Line. Los Angeles-based developer Meta Housing Corporation and Long Beach architectural firm Studio OneEleven have partnered to bring the project to shovel-ready status in spite of a troubled economy.

    Tuesday evening, City Council conducted the project’s Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) public hearing and approved the issuance of approximately $29 million in revenue bonds from the California Statewide Community Development Authority to partially pay for the development.

    Michael Bohn, principal at Studio OneEleven, said another major piece of funding for the project, a $26 million Proposition 1C (The Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund Act of 2006) grant from the California State Department of Housing and Community Development, recently was secured. The transit-oriented development and infill infrastructure grants are highly competitive, Bohn added.

    “This project makes sense for Long Beach,” Bohn said. “It’s encouraging greater intensity and mix of uses along station lines… The Blue Line runs on Long Beach Boulevard, and Anaheim Street is one of the most heavily used bus routes in the city… Seniors can hop on the Blue Line and attend events downtown or go to Los Angeles.”

    Many senior housing projects focus on fitness and active living, but Bohn said the Senior Artist Colony is unique because it encourages those 55 years old and older to have a strong mind as well. And no, past artistic experience is not a prerequisite.

    “The building will be very contemporary and it’s meant for an active group,” Bohn said. “Many will still be working, and the access to transit will mean an easier way to get to work. There’s not much senior housing in that area. The type of lifestyle promoted in the project, the proposed amenities and the character of the building is unprecedented in Long Beach.”

    Meta Housing Corporation broke ground on its first Senior Artist Colony in July 2003 at 240 E. Verdugo Ave. in Burbank; it opened its doors in June 2005. Meant to attract entertainment industry retirees, the development offered creative art studios, a business center and library, game room, art display galleries, beauty salon, fitness center and classes and a performance theater with a stage and piano.

    Kasey Burke, Meta Housing Corporation senior vice president, said the Long Beach Colony will be comparable in size to Burbank’s project, with 200 units planned in Phase I, but amenities will be augmented.

    “We’ve been working on the project for quite a while,” Burke said. “We purchased the land (at Long Beach Boulevard and Anaheim Street) in multiple parcels around three years ago. Ever since, we’ve been working with the city and the (Redevelopment Agency).”

    Phase I of the project will be located close to Anaheim Street and Locust Avenue. In that phase’s two buildings, a stand-alone theater that can seat 75 people, artist space for sculpting and painting, an art gallery for displaying residents’ pieces, a fitness facility and game room, dog park, community gardens, computer room and technology center, spa, outdoor seating areas and bicycle facilities will serve the 200 rental units.

    “A minimum of 68 units will be designated as affordable housing with rent levels at 30% to 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI),” Burke said. “The first phase will be 100% senior residential rentals … Phase II will have commercial space on the ground level and a mixed general affordable occupancy.”

    Burke estimated that Phase I would require 20 months to complete and would open for occupancy in the fall of 2012. To date, Phase II has no planned start of construction. The buildings still located on the Colony’s 3-acre site will be demolished as construction progresses, Burke said.

    Bohn said each building will have green spaces and courtyards that will encourage intermingling among generations. Phase II of the project will have mixed-income units that appeal to professionals, couples and families. The building’s design and construction materials will follow Long Beach’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified equivalent standards.

    For more information, visit www.metahousing.com.


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