Retirement options just got a lot more creative for California residents.  

Last fall, Los Angeles, Calif. based Meta Housing Corporation completed work on the Cotton’s Point Senior Apartments in San Clemente, Calif. The $32.4 million development offers affordable living to seniors in the Orange County area.   

“This is a unique project because it’s been built in a community that is not your typical location for affordable housing,” says Tim Soule, senior project manager at Meta Housing. “It’s an example of a balanced community development in which affordable housing is developed within areas of higher income.”

The development is income-restricted and open to adults 62 and older, and Soule says the demand for affordable senior housing in California markets is high. The 76 units at Cotton’s Point leased up almost immediately after opening, with wait-lists of 800-1,200 hopeful tenants before construction was completed. Soule says this is the case for all of its senior housing developments in a wide range of California neighborhoods.

The development was designed to mirror the city’s Spanish colonial architecture and offers stunning ocean views. Though it stands next to the freeway, the traffic noise is blocked out by a glass wall that runs along the property, so residents can still spend time enjoying the view from the outdoor terrace or playing golf in the weekly competitions on the putting green. Residents also enjoy access to a number of other amenities, like computer rooms, a fitness center, and recreation spaces.

“Active seniors also like to be at a development that is in close proximity to the community’s amenities,” says Soule. Cotton’s Point is situated less than a mile from both the state park and public golf course.

“We develop a market rate product that we provide to eligible seniors at an affordable rent,” says Soule.

The 76 units range from $485-$835 for one bedroom apartments
and $581-$1,003 for two bedrooms. 
The 76 units range from $485-$835 for one bedroom apartments and $581-$1,003 for two bedrooms. 

But perhaps the most important feature would be what Soule calls Cotton’s Point’s “soft” amenities. Partnering with EngAGE, a non-profit organization and residence services provider based in Burbank, Calif., Meta focuses on providing a fit and active lifestyle and creative opportunities to retirees at Cotton’s Point.

“They have created programs to encourage active aging, including a semester system where you have college-like courses in the arts, in singing, or in performance,” says Soule. “They have culminating events at the end of each session or semesters to celebrate the achievement of the seniors who participate in the programs.”

The organization hosts creative classes in art and painting, theater, language, and talk radio, just to name a few. The Cotton’s Point residents celebrate the end of their EngAGE exercise programs—which include anything from yoga and tai chi to water aerobics and dance—with a yearly senior Olympic competition.

In addition to incorporating EngAGE programs within active adult communities, a unique aspect of the Meta portfolio is the inclusion of numerous senior artist colonies. These developments are specifically designed for creative exploration and community engagement through artistic expression.

“What we try to do is leverage folks’ interest in the arts,” Soule says. “We think it's folks who may not have had the time during a busy professional career to get involved in the arts, but now that they’re retired they are more likely to discover or pursue an interest that they didn’t have time for. This can open up a whole new chapter in seniors’ lives.”

The Cotton’s Point development not only caters to the social and financial desires of active adults, but the health needs of seniors as well. Roughly one-third of the units—27 of the 76—are set aside for older adults with a chronic health condition or mental illness.

“The theory is they provide these folks with the services they need to thrive independently,” says Soule. All the Cotton’s Point special needs units are filled, a success in not only Soule’s opinion but that of the city as well.

“The Cotton’s Point project was the site of a blighted, vacant burned out restaurant, and was a magnet for crime, vagrants, and the homeless,” Soule says. “Now years later, it is the home of the formerly homeless and many other very happy satisfied residents in a safe, affordable, and attractive home.”