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Co-housing group seeks property

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By Vicky Gits

A group interested in building a co-housing community for 20 to 40 individual homeowners is close to making an offer on 14 acres somewhere in Evergreen, at a location that could be served by the Evergreen Metro water system. The group is working on a feasibility study but is not ready to divulge the location, said Ginger Juhl, a spokesperson for Stillpoint Mountain Village. The group held an informational meeting on Aug. 12 at the Evergreen Fire/Rescue headquarters in an attempt to spread the word and gather more members. Co-housing is a neighborhood living arrangement in which residents have private living spaces but share common facilities such as open space, courtyards, playgrounds and meeting houses. Members are committed to living together in a supportive community, generally with a wide spectrum of ages. Juhl, who is 54 and lives in Castle Rock, was looking for a situation that encouraged neighborhood interaction. “I had a garage sale, and I met a woman and started talking to her,” Juhl said. She seemed like the kind of person whom Juhl would like to have as a neighbor. “I found out she lived three doors down from me and had for 15 years.” “I moved into a suburban home for the Cherry Creek schools. Now my son is going off to college. I always wanted to move out of suburbia to somewhere else,” said Juhl, who does marketing out of her home for technology companies and serves as a spokeswoman. She discovered Stillpoint at www.cohousing.org while searching online for co-housing opportunities. She discovered that one of the most popular co-housing developments is Harmony Village in Golden. “But nobody ever leaves. Only two people have left in 10 years,” she said. Co-housing residents tout diverse communities composed of several generations in which residents support each other to meet the demands of child care and elder care. There are 17 existing or planned co-housing communities in Colorado. Stillpoint Mountain Village is finishing a feasibility study and, if everything goes well, aims to form a limited liability company and have a community in place in a couple of years. Going through the planning and zoning process is expected to take at least nine months. The group aims to offer housing prices in the range of $250,000 to $350,000. There likely will be some townhomes and some stand-alone homes, Juhl said. In a co-housing community, members have private homes and share elaborate common facilities. Everyone who participates in the project is expected to share in the responsibilities. Organizers would not divulge the exact location of the property in question. They looked at but ruled out the Evergreen Conference Center, which has been for sale for six months. Composed of individuals from Denver, Golden and Evergreen, Stillpoint has been meeting for a couple of years for two hours at a time about once a week. Catherine Scott, 67, who lives on Bear Mountain, got interested in co-housing when she was living in Pennsylvania. She visited a couple of places and liked the ambience. “You could feel that they were happy places.” “Our dream is to have a greenhouse where we grow as many of our fruits and vegetables as possible. There will be a large playground ee . We would like to reclaim our gray water, although there is water.” Scott knows it will be a long road to reality. “It requires great patience. One of our group said in an e-mail, ‘I continue to be amazed by the talent in our little group.’ That’s what makes it work.” For more information, visit www.stillpointmountainvillage.com.