Mixed Use and Affordable Senior Housing
Owner: Meta Housing Corporation, Los Angeles, CA
Architects: Studio One Eleven, Long Beach, CA
Contractor: Cobalt Construction, Simi Valley, CA
The affordable housing units at a senior housing complex in Long Beach, CA, are part of a mixed-use project, with future market rate housing for multiple generations planned in a 12-story tower right next to the senior living facilities. Considered a transit- oriented development, the 200 units of affordable housing are located adjacent to light rail and bus stops. An attractive, urban design aesthetic was important for this project. But so too was the cost.
The project was originally designed as a single development, with rental and for sale residential, and above ground level retail space, according to Studio One Eleven principal Michael Bohn. But the economic downturn combined with declining residential and commercial markets led to the redesign of the community into a two-phase project. “Working in tandem with the City of Long Beach and the developer Meta Housing Corporation, we reprogrammed the project, introducing the first phase affordable senior residential units into two interconnected developments known as the Senior Arts Colony and Annex,” Bohn said, whose award-winning firm has been repeatedly recognized for this outstanding project.
Cost Savings and Community
“The challenge was to reduce construction costs,” Bohn said. With such close proximity to public transportation, eliminating underground parking and keeping on-site parking to a minimum would not create a hardship, and helped keep costs down. So, too did the architectural design, which takes its cue from the beach nearby. Colorfully painted siding, large balconies with French doors, and a tower reminiscent of a lifeguard station all bow to the seaside reference. The goal of Bohn’s team was to design buildings of varying character within the larger development. Building heights are maximized along Long Beach Boulevard and Anaheim Street on the bustling urban edges, while the building volumes step down to meet and relate to existing residential neighborhoods.
Some of the biggest cost savings come from creatively specifying less expensive materials that collectively produce a stunning design. The Senior Arts Colony and Annex residential buildings appear to be anything but affordable. Studio One Eleven used concrete block and painted and pre-stained cement board on the exterior to emulate the appearance, scale and texture of wood at a reduced cost. Maintenance costs were also of prime importance. “The ground floor has exposed burnished block for durability with anti-graffiti protection sealer. If the block were to be ‘tagged’ it can be removed within five minutes by applying solution with a spray bottle and lightly brushed. The solution is then neutralized with water,” Bohn says
Interior and exterior materials are used to create a warm, inviting environment. The unit interiors are designed to reflect higher-end market rate housing. Inside, wood ceilings and cabinets are complemented by exposed burnished concrete block, drywall and porcelain floor tiles.
The architects created housing that is affordable to senior citizens on limited incomes, along with a plan for 12 stories of market rate units on the same site, without any visual schism between the groups’ residences. Instead, Studio One Eleven brings the groups together through social interactions and activities in art studios, a 99-seat theatre, community room, library, art gallery, computer lab, billiard room, community garden, spa, barbecue areas, a dog park, and yoga and fitness facilities. This project brings new meaning to the term “senior living.”
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