The Signal Tribune newspaper

Filed under Uncategorized

Developer, architect give tours of senior arts colony in anticipation of Signal Hill affordable-housing project

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Sean Belk/Signal Tribune (Above) Michael Bohn (third from left), principal of Long Beach-based architecture firm Studio One Eleven, gives a presentation on the Long Beach Senior Arts Colony during a public tour of the facilities in anticipation of an affordable-housing project in Signal Hill that the company is planning with developer Meta Housing Corporation. Also pictured are Christopher Maffris, (far left) vice president of Meta Housing, and Erika Stubstad, senior designer for Studio One Eleven.

Sean Belk/Signal Tribune
(Above) Michael Bohn (third from left), principal of Long Beach-based architecture firm Studio One Eleven, gives a presentation on the Long Beach Senior Arts Colony during a public tour of the facilities in anticipation of an affordable-housing project in Signal Hill that the company is planning with developer Meta Housing Corporation. Also pictured are Christopher Maffris, (far left) vice president of Meta Housing, and Erika Stubstad, senior designer for Studio One Eleven.

CORRECTION: The sentence that is in bold in the following story should have instead been written as thus: The Planning Commission will conduct a community meeting at 7pm on Tuesday, Jan. 13 for the purpose of soliciting public comments related to the plans for the project and in consideration of a future submittal to the City.

Sean Belk
-Signal Tribune-

While there are currently no vacancies left at a highly sought-after senior-housing development in downtown Long Beach, the developer and architect that built the complex are preparing for an affordable-housing project for all ages not far away in Signal Hill.

In anticipation of the new project, representatives with developer Meta Housing Corporation and Long Beach-based architecture firm Studio One Eleven gave two tours this week of their transit-oriented, 200-unit senior-housing project called the Long Beach Senior Arts Colony, completed nearly two years ago at the corner of Anaheim Street and Long Beach Boulevard.

The community tours were offered to give the public a view of the kind of architecture and environment that is expected for the Signal Hill project that calls for a 72-unit affordable-housing complex for general occupancy at Gundry Avenue and Hill Street.

Next week, at its Jan. 13 meeting, the Signal Hill Planning Commission is expected to vote on a site plan and design review for the project.

During one of the tours on Tuesday, Jan. 6, two Long Beach residents attended in addition to Signal Hill Planning Commissioner Jane Fallon, Assistant Planner Colleen Doan and Economic Development Manager Elise McCaleb.

A rendering by Long Beach-based architecture firm Studio One Eleven shows the preliminary design of a 72-unit affordable-housing project proposed on a 1.61-acre site at Hill Street and Gundry Avenue in Signal Hill.

A rendering by Long Beach-based architecture firm Studio One Eleven shows the preliminary design of a 72-unit affordable-housing project proposed on a 1.61-acre site at Hill Street and Gundry Avenue in Signal Hill.

Though the project in Signal Hill is being proposed as a residential complex primarily geared toward low-income families rather than senior citizens, Michael Bohn, principal of Studio One Eleven, said he anticipates that the project will incorporate a similar style of architecture that would “enhance” the community.

“We’re very dedicated to enhancing communities through architecture, design and landscape,” Bohn said at the tour. “We’re excited to be working in Signal Hill.”

Situated conveniently near Metro Blue Line light-rail stations and bus stops, the senior-housing complex, geared toward the Baby Boomer generation with a population of low-income residents age 55 and up, was built in two phases and includes six floors.

The facilities incorporate art studios and galleries, and walls with lighting for senior-citizen residents to display their artwork. The complex also has rooms for fitness activities, yoga and billiards. One of the floors has an open-air environment, with a spa, a dog park, community gardens and a community center, which includes a stage for performances.
Christopher Maffris, vice president of Meta Housing, said various programs, which are managed by the nonprofit firm EngAGE, offer residents a way to connect with one another to make them feel as though they are part of a community. He said there are still more than 100 people on a waiting list for occupancy.

“People love it, and the community loves it,” Maffris said. “The old senior-housing paradigm was shuffle board and just aging without the engagement. This really is a continuation of life, a continuation of how to learn and grow. Because of all the activities, everyone is kind of connected. People cross over to different classes so everyone knows each other, and I think it’s just a better environment.”

Maffris said the focus of the complex is to incorporate the local community as much as possible, whether through neighborhood meetings or art-gallery showings.

Sean Belk/Signal Tribune A community center with a stage for performances is located on an open-air-environment floor of the Long Beach Senior Arts Colony located at the southwest corner of Anaheim Street and Long Beach Boulevard in downtown Long Beach.

Sean Belk/Signal Tribune

A community center with a stage for performances is located on an open-air-environment floor of the Long Beach Senior Arts Colony located at the southwest corner of Anaheim Street and Long Beach Boulevard in downtown Long Beach.

“Our goal is to not build a project that’s standalone but [to build] something that’s integrated with the neighborhood and everything else that’s going on in the city,” he said.

For the Signal Hill residential project, Bohn said the plan is to create a “village-like feel” with a quarter of the complex dedicated to open space for landscaping and community gardens. Maffris added that programs for the affordable-housing project would be more “family-oriented” and include educational classes for children.

Additionally, Bohn said the location of the affordable-housing development is ideal for residential use since there are plenty of public amenities, including City Hall, the library, schools and the community center, within a short walking distance.

“We think it’s a great location,” he said. “It’s really walkable. You can walk to parks and to schools. Most academics can’t agree on much, but they all agree that people will walk five minutes to go somewhere instead of getting in their car.”

After being in limbo for years, the Signal Hill project moved forward last July when the City Council, acting as the Signal Hill Housing Authority, selected Meta Housing and Studio One Eleven to take on the project after a request-for-qualifications process.

The project has been in the works for more than six years and calls for building 72 units on a 1.61-acre property at 1500 E. Hill St. and 2170 Gundry Ave. Although a metal Quonset hut had taken up one of the sites, city officials confirmed that it has been since been demolished.

Sean Belk/Signal Tribune Residents of the Long Beach Senior Arts Colony paint canvases in an art studio.

Sean Belk/Signal Tribune

Residents of the Long Beach Senior Arts Colony paint canvases in an art studio.

While the State of California took away nearly $2.6 million allocated for the project after abolishing redevelopment, Maffris noted that the City is providing the developer with the land and some relief on development-impact fees that would be used as leverage in competing for tax credits from the State to finance the project.

He said, if the tax credits are obtained, the developer would be able to start construction in December 2015 and complete the project in 2017.

“We’re excited about doing something as impactful as this in the city of Signal Hill,” Maffris said. “We want to impress everybody. We really work for the city and community. That’s how we do business: to do something that everybody is proud of is how we survive.”

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Serving Bixby Knolls, California Heights, Los Cerritos, Wrigley and Signal Hill
Developer, architect give tours of senior arts colony in anticipation of Signal Hill affordable-housing project