OCEAN AVE — The Community & Cultural Services Department held an open house over the weekend to test out a variety of classes geared toward adults at the building that once housed a popular senior center.
For the next three months, the former Senior Recreation Center at 1450 Ocean Ave. will transform into a hands-on community cultural center with classes ranging from salsa and writing to bookbinding and jam-making.
It’s part of an effort to find a new use for the building that caters to all Santa Monica adults now that senior programs have been consolidated at the Ken Edwards Center on Fourth Street, said Jessica Cusick, cultural affairs manager with City Hall.
The loss of the site as a senior center ruffled some feathers, primarily because of the fantastic view of the Pacific Ocean, and officials hope that the new use and classes will bring more people to the spot, including its former patrons.
“I think [it’s] this whole concept of having a place where we can connect with, experience and enhance our own creativity,” Cusick said. “Many of our seniors are still dropping in, and some of them are enjoying learning new things.”
Cultural Affairs, Human Services and Community Recreation divisions joined forces to invite local artists and teachers to fill the center’s docket with craft workshops.
The center, which officials refer to as “1450” for lack of another name, opened its doors on Saturday for an open house to introduce people to some of the new offerings, and to the concept of the building as a welcoming place for adults of all ages.
Angharad Caceres, former owner of the Urban Craft Center, taught a drop-in knitting class as part of the open house. She’s also signed up for a variety of other crafting workshops at the center, some of which she used to teach at the craft store before it closed down last summer.
Although she’s lived and worked in Santa Monica for years, she’d never been to the 1450 Ocean Ave. site — she even got lost trying to find it on Saturday.
“I’ve seen the building for the last 10 years and it never occurred to me what it was,” Caceres said. “As it grows, it could really become a cultural hot spot.”
Right now, transforming the center is about experimentation with classes to see what works for the community.
It will also require a big push to get the word out about the changes there. Caceres’ first class was canceled, ostensibly because of a lack of attendance, and even the Saturday open house wasn’t widely attended.
Others without the same flexibility might feel a little more heartburn about the unsteady schedule, but Caceres is happy to get in on the ground floor and watch the program grow, possibly with historical offerings, design classes or any number of other options.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity,” Caceres said. “I hope people come because it’s a great chance to get access to the kinds of classes they’re getting on board. I think it’s going to be a great vibe in there.”
Those interested in checking out the roster of classes can do so at the center’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/1450Ocean.