A `Cohousing' Group in Process

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

`I WANTED to be around children more,'' is the reason Robert Bresnahan, a management consultant in Seattle, gives for wanting to live in a cohousing development. Married, with a son from a previous marriage who lives nearby, he and others in Seattle were inspired by the book ``Cohousing, A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves.'' After attending a workshop by the authors, he says, ``I put out a letter saying, `I want to get going on this right now and plan to move in in 2 years.' Fifteen households responded.'' That whittled down to eight households, composed of white professionals in their 30s to 50s. Two are singles, the rest families. They are working with a developer who's helping them with the mechanics of acquiring property and arranging financing.

They are considering sites right outside the northern city limits of Seattle. ``The area is very attractive physically, and we think we can preserve our piece of that and may have some influence on the way the rest is developed as well,'' Mr. Bresnahan says. ``The planning organizations have been surprisingly supportive.''

The group's plan of putting 30 units (from studios to smallish three-bedroom units) on two acres may strike some as a bit squeezed. But Bresnahan seems unfazed. ``We'll stack up multilevel houses next to each other, using the layout of Trudeslund [a community discussed in ``Cohousing''].'' The other two acres they'll leave open for trails, fields, and children's activities. And, he adds, in a booming Seattle real estate market, it will be cheaper.

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While there was an initial shakedown period in the beginning during which some members left because they wanted to live right in the city, the process, he says, has been quite easy. ``There will probably be problems down the road, but my sense is that it won't be overwhelmingly difficult.''

Paul Fishberg, founder of the Seattle Cohousing Group, and member of a core group looking for property, says, ``Community groups have been very supportive. They say they'd rather see us than a big developer building a bunch of houses and driveways.''

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