HOUSING award-winners: Gold for Noho
The NoHo Senior Arts Colony in North Hollywood, Calif. won top honours as U.S. developers of 50-plus housing were honoured for their leading edge developments
When it comes to creating the best housing for people aged 50-plus, it’s not about the “house” – it’s about living life to its fullest.
That may sound idealistic, but an impressive group of American homebuilders have found a way to make those concepts a reality; they were recognized at the National Association of Home Builders 50-Plus Housing Awards in Las Vegas in February.
Top honours were won by NoHo Senior Arts Colony, in North Hollywood, Calif. This new infill development is a rental community for residents aged 62 and up, with 126 one- and two-bedroom apartments, 20 per cent for low-income residents. Market rate rents run from $1,400 to $2,300 a month.
But the apartments are not the key features – the community's social spaces include art and sculpture studios, art exhibit space, a 76-seat performing arts theatre shared with local professional theatre groups, rehearsal spaces, a creative-writing and read-aloud library, a computer-media arts centre and a yoga/meditation room.
John M. Huskey is CEO of Meta Housing Corporation, which built the NoHo Senior Arts Colony. He says at NoHo, everything learned about building homes for older adults has come together.
“This is the latest generation of our seniors’ projects, where we recognize that just building a quality building doesn’t necessarily make life as nice for the seniors as it could be,” he says.
Residents need “engagement,” and that concept has evolved through the developments Meta has built. Early on, they discovered the improvement in health and happiness that resulted from introducing “lifelong learning.” Today, Meta communities including NoHo offer classes on a community-college level. Then, through the coincidence of a Meta community being located beside a school for difficult students, the developers discovered the mutually positive impact of involving seniors with students. A senior jazz musician developed a drumming circle with students; a community garden further engaged the residents and the students.
And today, Huskey says, as they retain learning and community interaction in their newer developments, they have learned that involvement in the arts is the most successful way to build healthy communities, and to involve the “marginally engaged” on a voluntary basis. At the NoHo community, well over half of the residents are people who have been involved in the arts, but all residents are welcome to participate – and do.
Meta partners with a not-for-profit organization, EngAGE, to provide the programs to promote active engagement and independent living, and provide seniors with a purpose.
NoHo’s NAHB award was just the tip of the innovative iceberg. Overall, there were 35 Gold award winners, 24 Silver award winners and three entries honoured with for innovation.
Robert Karen, chair of NAHB's 50-Plus Housing Council, said, "Today's 50-plus home buyers and renters are looking for homes and communities that are much more innovative, and incorporate features and amenities that fit their lifestyle."
Another award recipient was Alta Verde Coral Mountain in La Quinta, Calif., which received a Gold award in the Best For-Sale Community (Up to 200 Homes) and an innovation award. Alta Verde’s are elementally modern, built at an economical cost per square foot. The Alta Verde awards entry stated, “We have transformed the production industry, raising it to the level witnessed only in custom, multi-million-dollar architectural homes. With resounding market success, this activity ratifies our idea that a new demographic exists, and they seek something far more innovative than what has been done so in the past.”
The award winners cover the spectrum of the boomer market, from the gated 55-plus Del Webb at Rancho Mission Viejo, the first senior single-family detached home community to be built in Orange County, California in over 10 years, to Moorings Park in Naples, Fla., which won a Gold award for Best 50-plus Continuing Care Retirement Community for creating three residential lifestyle apartment buildings and a center for healthy living that now form a small "town square.”
The complete list of winners is at www.nahb.org/50PlusAwardWinners.