As the area ponders two new developments on the edges of Capitol Hill, a one-of-a-kind project in the heart of the Hill moved forward last week with a few little scoops and a big milestone.
Capitol Hill Urban Cohousing, a communal development where each resident is an equal member of a company that owns the entire project, broke ground Friday night next to the old 12th Ave masonry building that will be demolished to make way for four stories of co-ownership, co-construction, and co-management.
“We’re going to live here for the rest of our lives,” architect Mike Mariano told CHS last winter. “We want this building to last forever.” Back then, the group hoped to break ground on the project by spring. But pulling together permits and plans for any development — let alone one so out of the ordinary in terms of finance and management — can be a massive challenge.
Resident-owners Mariano and wife Grace Kim run architectural firm (and frequent CHS contributor) Schemata Workshop which has temporarily relocated near the Seattle Center to make way for the demolition and construction. The project is Capitol Hill’s first co-owned building where each resident is an equal member of an LLC that owns the entire project. The building includes nine residential units and an “urban farm” and is designed to emphasize community, collaboration and eco-efficiency, the architects say:
The property is being developed around the Danish model of “cohousing”, a term that simply applies to the concept of future residents intentionally organizing and collectively building a community. This specific group began meeting in Spring 2010 with the interest in developing a highly sustainable, urban community in a central Capitol Hill location. The physical building is very similar to any other multi-family building, with the addition of extensive common areas that provide for opportunities to create a stronger sense of community within. This occurs through a regularly occurring “supper club”, shop space, laundry room, guest room, and outdoor common areas.
Developer Maria Barrientos joined the project to help the community through the financing process. In true share-economy fashion, financing for the project couldn’t have happened without some shared risk. Each resident was asked to contribute $30,000 as a down payment. Nearly half the financing was secured through investors from other cohousing communities.
You can learn more at capitolhillurbancohousing.org.