Ben GodarThe midday heat didn’t reduce the...

Ben Godar

The midday heat didn’t reduce the crowd or the enthusiasm at the

groundbreaking for the Burbank Senior Artists Colony.

City officials, developers and members of the community gathered


Wednesday for the ceremonial start of construction on the project, a

141-unit housing complex featuring a theater, studio space and other

arts-related amenities for seniors.

David Connell, an actor who hopes to live at the facility when it


is completed, said the Artists Colony will be a great community


“It would be a wonderful feeling to roll out of bed, take a few

steps and reach a theater space,” he said.

Connell was one of the seniors who demonstrated his talents at the

ceremony. Playing a Charlie Chaplin-type character, Connell and

others filmed a silent movie called “The Groundbreaking.” Al Jacobs,

a former member of the Coasters, provided music.


The nonprofit group More Than Housing for Seniors will provide

various activities and services for residents. John Huskey, president

of developer Meta Housing Corporation, said those activities will be

an important part of the Artists Colony.

“It’s what you do in addition to housing that makes the difference

between people having just a place to stay and a place to live and

thrive,” Huskey said.

In addition to its arts programming, 41 of the units at the


development will be dedicated to moderate and low-income seniors.

Workers have begun leveling the ground at the corner of San Fernando

Boulevard and Verdugo Avenue, where the Artists Colony will be

located, and a Meta Housing official said they hope the facility will

be ready to open by spring 2004.

The project received a $3.25-million subsidy from the city’s

Redevelopment Agency in 2000. At Thursday’s groundbreaking, City

Manager Mary Alvord said by replacing old, blighted buildings, the

Artists Colony typifies what redevelopment can do.

“The Senior Artists Colony is the gateway to downtown Burbank,”

she said.