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Ravens’ Roost Cohousing Wins Unanimous Approval from Anchorage Planning and Zoning Commission

On January 7, 2013, Ravens’ Roost Cohousing received approval to develop a Planned Unit Development of 35 homes on 6.3 acres off of Abbott Road, east of Lake Otis Parkway.

Cohousing, a concept originating in Denmark in the 1970s, attempts to revive old-fashioned neighborliness.  Future residents participate in the design, which encourages interaction between neighbors while also preserving privacy.  There are now 125 cohousing neighborhoods in the U.S., with about as many being planned or developed.

Cohousing neighborhoods typically cluster 20-35 privately-owned homes around shared open space and amenities. Legally, they are similar to condo associations, except that buyers share an intention to get to know one another, and all households participate in decision-making. 

Central to cohousing is a Common House, which usually includes a large kitchen and dining area for optional, shared dinners 2-3 times per week; a kids’ play room; living room with library; guest rooms; recreational / game room; and a laundry room.  Parking is on the periphery of the site, leaving most of the neighborhood to be landscaped in a park-like, kid-friendly manner.

The general idea is for each household to own less private stuff, and to share both material things and a sense of convivial neighborliness.  Not every house needs its own lawnmower, snow blower, workshop, tools, play rooms, toys, guest rooms, garden, etc.  But each cohousing home does have its own full kitchen, laundry hook-ups, and other basic features of a normal home.

Ravens’ Roost Cohousing will be Anchorage’s first cohousing neighborhood.  Designers anticipate that residents will experience a high level of privacy in their individual homes and a moderate level in their back yards.  In addition, residents will experience as much old-fashioned community as they want, just outside their front doors.

“People have never lived such isolated lives as they do in the U.S. today,” said member Mary Miner, citing the rising number of one-person households.  And for Alaskans, family often lives far away. “Our electronic gadgets are no substitute for face-to-face interaction.  Ravens’ Roost will have a high level of social vitality, making life more interesting, vibrant, and fun.”

“It will be a great place to raise kids and grow old,” said associate member Joe Meehan.

Ravens’ Roost will be super energy-efficient.  All homes and the Common House will also enjoy southern exposure, with ten homes opening onto a covered atrium.  Interior finishes will be as toxin-free as possible.

Rough price estimates for one- to four-bedroom homes range from $225,000 to $479,000. 

“Anchorage is maturing as a city and it’s nice to see our town willing to try new approaches to our housing and lifestyle needs,” said Tim Potter, senior planner with DOWL HKM.

Ravens’ Roost still has room for more members.  They will host an Open House on Wed, April 17, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Middle Way Café, where they will show a three-dimensional model of the site plan, interior layouts for homes and the Common House, and architectural renderings.  They also offer monthly potluck socials, and public talks around town.  See www. ravensroostcoho.org, or call 866-602-3569 for more information.

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