Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Press Release: Groundbreaking Set for Prairie Hill, Iowa's First Cohousing Community

Iowa City Cohousing (ICCH) will break ground Sunday, Nov. 13, at 3:00 p.m., for Prairie Hill Cohousing Community, a sustainable neighborhood, located off Miller Avenue between West Benton Street and Highway 1. Supporters and other interested persons are invited to bring a shovel and join in the celebration. The actual 'ground breaking' will occur at 3:30.

The community of 36 sustainably built attached homes and a common house for shared meals and activities is being developed on an eight-acre site within walking and biking distance of the University of Iowa and downtown Iowa City. The members of ICCH are the developers of the $8 million project, and they will be first residents of what will be an economically and socially diverse, multigenerational community.

Iowa City Cohousing is committed to providing some workforce housing for income-qualified applicants. The project has been awarded grants for down payment assistance and tax credits to build affordable homes.

Cohousing is a form of neighborhood development established in Denmark in the 1970's and imported to the U.S. in the 1990's. Residents own small private homes and share common facilities, resources and management of their community. There are over 150 established cohousing communities in the U.S. and more than 100 more in some stage of development. Prairie Hill will be the first cohousing community in Iowa.

Cohousing developments are designed to foster neighborliness and friendly interdependence and to balance community and privacy. Owner-occupied homes in Prairie Hill will cluster around the central common house where residents will pick up mail, do laundry and share several meals a week. Guest rooms and spaces for group activities in the common house permit members to live comfortably in smaller spaces.

Homes will range from 515-square foot studio apartments in the common house to 1600-square foot two-story duplexes with up to four bedrooms. Units will be built in clusters of two-story duplexes, four flats in two-story buildings, and single-level townhouses. About half the homes have been sold.

Prairie Hill will be an eco-community planned according to permaculture principles of sustainability. Half of the 8-acre site will be preserved for gardens and orchards to grow produce for use in the community kitchen. Super-insulated, all-electric green homes will be surrounded by individual kitchen gardens.

The development has been carefully planned to provide opportunities for solar installations, manage stormwater on site and meet requirements for LEED certification. Some residents will choose options to make their home near net zero.

To develop the plans, Iowa City Cohousing has worked with Iowa City architects John F. Shaw and Martha Norbeck of C-wise Design and Consulting, and civil engineers of HBK Engineering. The general contractor is APEX Construction Co. Great Western Bank will finance construction.

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