Community Groundbreaking Brings Senior Cohousing Concept to Northern Calif.

The age old concept of co-housing is making waves in the senior housing sector through the groundbreaking of a Bay Area community in Oakland that will serve as the first of its kind. 

Phoenix Commons is under way as a 41-unit community that will be structured as a cooperative lifestyle community for senior living, the company says. That means shared services and amenities based on certain common principals including activity and sustainability. 

Unlike a community where management makes all of the decisions, the concept is based on input from its residents who decide—as a group—how spaces and resources should be used for the good of the community. 

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“Phoenix Commons is an innovative, collaborative and environmentally sustainable senior community where, together, residents will have control over their own futures,” said Lauren Zimmerman-Cook, chief financial officer for project lead Elder Village Development. “This is more than just a building – it truly is a community where people can come together to create the kind of lives in retirement that they’ve always dreamed of.”

The waterfront property will include 7,000 square feet of communal living space and additional spaces that can be used as the community chooses—a principal on which cohousing is based. For example, they might opt for an art studio, or a theater, or a playroom for grandchildren—all possibilities for adapting the space.

The collaboration among residents involves their participation in both the design and operation of the community, setting it apart from a traditional senior living community or apartment building. Residents each live in their own private homes within the community, but the emphasis is on shared space and shared input when it comes to choosing the amenities and services the resident population wants and needs. 

Cohousing, while not new as a concept, has been touted by several groups and articles recently as a senior housing solution that offers more flexibility than a traditional senior living community, but also the benefits of a shared living organization. 

By the count of Charles Durrett and Bernice Gonzalez of McCamant & Durrett Architects, there are roughly 20 senior cohousing communities currently in the U.S.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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