Gail Bailey is 68, but speaks with the enthusiasm and energy of a 20-year-old. Like a freshman just starting art college, she can't wait to write, paint, sculpt and explore all the opportunities available to her and other residents at the new $42 million NoHo Senior Arts Colony on Magnolia Boulevard in the NoHo Arts District, which opened in early 2013.
Bailey in many ways represents the "you're never too old" spirit of the community.
"I'v’e been all over looking at senior facilities," Bailey told Patch. "And there are some good ones, but they are for old people. And there are a lot of people like me, who look like me and act like me and we’re old, but we’re not old."
Bailey said she ran an art gallery for six years in Minneapolis after getting divorced, then moved to San Francisco and went to film school at the University of California, San Francisco—when she was in her 50s.
"It was something I wanted to do," she said with a shrug and a smile.
She said she spent 12 years working on documentaries and feature films in the Bay area and moved to Los Angeles and the NoHo Senior Arts Colony because she wants to break into the film and TV writing business—at the age of 68.
And she's already hooked up with a writing partner and is working hard on writing and producing a webseries she said will be called "60-something."
"My kids were like, 'Oh my god your’re going to live in an old folks building!' But now they’ve seen it and they’ve changed their minds," she laughed.
EngAGE is a nonprofit organization that runs the colony's art programs. EngAGE's founder and executive director Tim Carpenter told Patch in a 2011 profile that he wanted to help create affordable senior apartment communities that are “vibrant centers of learning, wellness and creativity”—not sad places to wait out the inevitable.
“It used to be that people would retire at 65,” Carpenter said. “These days people can live into their 90s and beyond. So what to do with all that time matters now more than ever. We started with that idea.”
EngAGE offers residents an array of artistic opportunities, including paining, sculpting, writing, and acting. The North Hollywood-based Road Theatre Company has a second location at the complex and plans to put on shows for the public and to teach classes to the residents.
"It’s a unique retirement community for people who are involved in the arts or have an interest in the arts," said Jody Webber, the building's property manager. "As we find it’s two different kind of things. People who are active in the arts seem to be drawn to the community, or it’s people that have been busy doing other things but they would like the opportunity to try something, like maybe to audition for the chorus or audition for the stage, and this gives them a safe environment and they can feel safe attending a class. It’s a social environment, so they can try all of those things."
Ground was broken on the project in January of 2011. See video highlights of the ceremony: Aging Hipsters to Have Their Own Home in NoHo
The Road Theatre Company's opening show at the colony is a musical called The Baby Project, and runs for a limited four-week engagement, starting Feb. 22.
The $42 million colony has multiple investors, with the Community Redevelopment Agency contributing $7 million, according to its website, along with $25.2 million in tax-exempt bonds from the California Statewide Communities Development Authority, $2 million in tax credits and $3.4 million in developer equity and deferred fees.