CDS Community Development Strategies
- Resident members jointly make all the planning decisions and manage the community
- The neighborhood site plan is designed to encourage a sense of community
- Common facilities are supplemental to individually designed homes
- There is no community hierarchy, no shared economy and profit making is not the purpose
Presently, most senior cohousing communities are self-formed. Anyone interested can start by gathering a group of senior friends, explaining the concept and finding out those who are both interested and well suited for this life style. Once a core group is formed and dedicated to moving forward, there are experienced consultants who specialize in holding “get it done” workshops to educate and guide the entire development process. Workshops are held in different parts of the country and thoroughly cover everything from initial planning strategies, timelines for each step, site selection considerations, architectural design ideas and financing options.
The key for the core group is to learn how to work together in planning, recruiting additional members, and following through on all the steps in an organized manner. Bonds formed among members during the development stages are carried on into the all-important living together period that follows. Depending on the expertise of group members outside help will probably be needed in securing the land, designing the homes and site amenities, obtaining approvals, raising the money, and implementing the development process.
The acreage requirements will vary depending on densities but a site large enough to accommodate 30 to 35 homes appears to be ideal. Most projects feature all new housing with a limited number of floor plans for construction efficiencies but offer elevation options that provide design diversity. Katy McCamant of Cohousing Solutions and Chuck Durrett of Durrett Architecture have held workshops and worked together to help design and build over fifty socially vibrant and environmentally sustainable cohousing communities throughout the U.S. and Canada. A good way to learn more about the subject would be to read The Senior Cohousing Handbook, 2nd Edition: A Community Approach to Independent Living. The following slideshow from Kraus Fitch Architects also provides some additional insight.
About the Author: Kent Dussair founded CDS in 1971 for the purpose of providing professional market and economic research and consulting services. With over 50 years of professional experience, Kent continues to help CDS implement and evaluate effective qualitative research.