Curtain Rises on NoHo Senior Arts Colony in North Hollywood

The newly developed, $32 million NoHo Senior Arts Colony opens this month, the first in the multifamily housing industry’s history to incorporate a professional theater within a seniors rental housing property.

North Hollywood, Calif.—The newly developed, $32 million NoHo Senior Arts Colony opens this month, the first in the multifamily housing industry’s history to incorporate a professional theater within a seniors rental housing property.

The 204,039-square-foot senior apartment community, which was developed by Los Angeles-based Meta Housing Corporation, will cater to artists and their interests. In addition to its theater, it will offer visual arts and film editing studios, free educational arts classes and an environment promoting the arts.

The community, fittingly located in North Hollywood, will feature 126 apartments, and offer a mix of one- and two-bedroom floor plans.

Meta Housing Corporation is collaborating with EngAGE, a non-profit organization providing an integrated program of arts and wellness classes, taught by college-level professionals, at no cost to residents. It is also partnering with The Road Theatre Company, a 21-year-old non-profit corporation that produces theater under the Actor’s Equity Association 99-Seat Plan.

Residents of NoHo Senior Arts Colony will not only be able to take advantage of opportunities to grow their artistic abilities, but will relish the chance to live in a community filled with like-minded, arts-minded neighbors and friends.

A number of hurdles had to be surmounted to make this development a reality. Among them were challenges involving financing, time management and semantics. “Cost was the first challenge,” John Huskey, CEO of Meta Housing Corporation, tells MHN. “It cost a lot of money to do this. We had to come up with different kinds of creative financing, and were very fortunate to find them.

“The second [challenge] was it took us a while to realize that working with another element, a professional theater group, would add time to every decision-making process. The third thing, and I don’t think we’ve solved it yet, is we haven’t come up with a full vocabulary to describe it.”

The idea of incorporating a theater in a senior housing community is the result of lessons learned over years of working on senior-oriented developments, he adds. “This is our fourth generation of senior projects, and in each case, we have found out more about what is most effective, and advanced that,” he says. “We’ve tried to provide much more than the housing for the past 20 years.”

North Hollywood was the logical place for such an endeavor, he adds. The Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency was exceptionally active in trying to re-energize the North Hollywood arts district. Stakeholders in the area asked, “What do we have that other communities don’t?” The answer, Huskey says, was a tradition of small, community-based theaters.

Add the dynamism that came with the addition of Orange Line and Red Line public transit service to or near the district, and North Hollywood became the idea spot for a senior housing community incorporating a professional theater.

“It’s a logical extension of the idea that this is a part of Los Angeles that’s made theater and performing arts a major part of its tradition,” Huskey says. “And that doesn’t stop at the age when people retire. For the community, we’re bringing people with theater expertise together to achieve a kind of critical mass.

“For the residents themselves, they can expect to enjoy significant increases in their longevity, happiness and health, due to being able to participate in creativity, theater and the arts.”