Developer Launches Senior Co-housing Community in $21 Million Project

In the quest to find a halfway point between a continuing care retirement community and single family senior living, a Northern California development is working to bridge the gap in its latest senior housing construction.

The $21 million project in the works by Alameda Elder Communities will feature 41 co-operative units for people ages 60 and over in what the development team calls a “cohousing” community. Based in Oakland, California, Phoenix commons is a collaborative housing effort that will allow residents to participate in the design of the community as it is built.

“This is something that is for sale,” says Victoria Community Development Director Victoria Stone. “People own their units and they own a share of the community space. They will be governming and creating and managing the culture themselves.”

The model offers an alternative to CCRC-style housing, which requires an upfront buy-in, sometimes refundable, and an additional monthly fee. Rather than set overhead costs, the community will allow residents to choose their own services and amenities, as a group.

“Rather than with a CCRC where the operator [controls] costs of employees and [services], you decide what you want and pay for what you want and need as a community,” Stone says. A basic monthly homeowners’ association fee covers insurance and reserves. Additional options such as exercise instruction and even caregiving services remain up to the residents and the group as a whole.

“They decide that jointly through group purchasing power,” Stone says. “It’s more financially sustainable and socially sustainable.”

The co-housing concept has gained attention in recent months, among other senior housing alternatives to traditional models of senior housing, such as home sharing. With 90% of people 65 and older reporting they wish to age in place, according to AARP, home sharing could be one viable way for people to do so.

Phoenix Commons offers units from 630 square feet to 1100 square feet, ranging in listed price from $350,000 to $650,000. The four-story building includes three stories of resident units with community spaces on each floor, comprising 7,000 square feet of common, shared space, including kitchen, dining and a guest unit that can be used to house guests or caregivers if the residents so choose.

The project is scheduled to break ground in 2013 with an estimated launch in 2015. Marketing the concept takes on a different mission, Stone says, with shared housing being a strong pillar.

“There’s a lot of talk about shared housing,” she says. “This is taking that concept to a bigger level. Here you’re sharing your community life with 60 people.”

Written by Elizabeth Ecker





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