Houston Chronicle 1/21/2022
New cohousing development aims to turn neighbors into ‘extended family’ in Houston’s East End
By Marissa Luck
A long-anticipated cohousing development is finally coming to fruition as a group of Houstonians break ground on what’s being described as the first cohousing development in Texas.
CoHousing Houston is starting construction Friday on a 33-unit residential community on a 1.5-acre property at 114 Delmar in the East End. Residents are expected to move in by 2023, according to the group’s website.
The group is describing the project as the state’s first development designed around cohousing, a communal living arrangement involving a collection of private homes grouped together around shared spaces that are intentionally meant to foster community.
While various forms of shared housing and co-living arrangements already exist in the state, the group says its development will be differentiated by its intentional use of shared spaces — such as communal kitchens and community gardens — plus regular group meals and activities to bring neighbors together. A 4,200 square-foot gathering place, called the Common House, will act as a venue for hosting meals and other activities.
Residents can share the cost of everyday living expenses such as transportation, groceries and internet usage. The community can also act as a form of extended family with members offering to provide one another childcare or give rides to one another.
For the East End development, residents will have their own private homes, kitchens and living spaces in addition to the communal areas.
The project has been five years in the making, said Kelli Soika of CoHousing Houston, but the coronavirus pandemic piqued interest in the development as some people struggled with the social isolation of quarantines and lockdowns.
“People come to our [planning] meetings and express that the last few years have been hard because they just don’t have enough contact outside of their homes or their immediate families,” Soika said in a statement. “When offices and schools closed, lots of people found themselves missing the everyday encounters with other people,”
The cohousing group has 25 households participating, including 37 adults and 9 children. Members hold an equity stake in the overall project in addition to owning their individual units.
The community’s 33 condominiums have shared walls with homes ranging from one to four bedrooms. Prices range between $300,000 to $800,000 per a home, according to CoHousing Houston. Eight homes, ranging in size from 900 square feet to 1,100 square feet in the $420,000-$520,000 price range, are still available.
With sustainability in mind, the development’s design includes a series underground wells that exchange heat with the ground temperature to pre-heat water and cool the air without a standard water heater or air conditioning, Soika said. Along with low-impact storm management design, the community also has space for solar energy and electric vehicle chargers.
The group has hired Troon Development to oversee the project, along with architecture designs by Boulder, Colorado-based Caddis PC and Houston-based English + Associates.