Imagine being able to walk out of your private home and right into the center of your community. Neighbors have just started an exercise class in the shared courtyard while the neighborhood children play tag as they get ready to head off to school together. You walk over to a shared community space to help process fresh vegetables grown on the community farm.
This is part of the vision of cohousing communities, one of which will be a part of the Westside Neighborhood of Longmont in the coming year or two.
The Bohn Farm Cohousing Community, or BFCC, will be located at 1313 Spruce, the site of the Bohn Family Farm. It will include community supported agriculture as well as a new public park on the east side of the property.
Peter Spaulding is the developer behind the project. He says his role in the project is not that of a traditional developer but more of a guide who helps the community of farmers and artists navigate the development process. As he explains, “cohousing is not like a commune or a co-op, it is a very democratic product because we are not coming at it with a philosophy or idealism behind it.”
Cohousing is a type of planned community that aims to meet the privacy needs of individuals and families along with the social needs of a strong community. This is done by combining privately-owned homes with community-owned common spaces. The cohousing model has been increasing in popularity since it was established in the U.S. in the 1980s. Economic, social, and environmental factors have driven this growth.
As we struggle with issues of sustainability, new models of environmentally friendly living could play a vital role in reducing our impact on the environment and preserving it for future generations. By eliminating the need for large, privately-owned homes, cohousing reduces the environmental footprint of development.
BFCC plans incorporate sustainable practices into the development itself. For example, concrete will be used for much of the building material in order to reduce the amount of timber needed. Additionally, the agricultural practices of the farm will create a carbon sink that they hope will make the community carbon neutral within seven to ten years of completion.
Increased Quality of Life
Cohousing promotes a social lifestyle that is important for increased quality of life. Social sciences studies find that people who get more social interaction and are more socially integrated into their community live longer, healthier, and happier lives.
Unfortunately, social connectedness is on the decline in America. A recent survey conducted by Cigna found that nearly half of American respondents reported feeling lonely most of the time. Only 53 percent of people reported having meaningful in-person interactions daily. People with more frequent, in-person interactions tend to have a lower loneliness score.
The layout of BFCC is designed to encourage daily social interactions. This is done by arranging the private homes around the common buildings so that members of the community interact while going about their day to day routines. There will also be monthly community-wide dinners and events to further encourage social connections.
While the price of units at BFCC will be comparable to other homes in the neighborhood, Spaulding notes that they will include nearly 8,000 square feet of shared amenities. He says that this means that the price per square foot will be very competitive with privately owned single-family homes. He also explained that community members will be able to reduce daily costs by relying on support from other community members.
He shared an example of a cohousing community stepping up to take care of a neighbor after an accident. This neighbor needed assistance while recovering and the neighbors were able to provide that assistance. Instead of having to hire someone to take care of food and transportation to and from appointments, his friends in the neighborhood were all involved in his recovery.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for housing, diversity of housing stock provides more choices for community members. BFCC will be the first cohousing development added to the City of Longmont’s housing inventory.
Currently, the project is responding to comments from city planners. After the commenting phase is complete, permitting will begin and could take an additional year. Construction is expected to begin near the end of 2019 or the beginning of 2020.
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