Sat09202014

Mountain View on the Move

Community builders: MV cohousing project emphasizes socializing


Photo By: Rendering COURTESY OF MOUNTAIN VIEW COHOUSING COMMUNITY
Photo Rendering Courtesy Of Mountain View Cohousing Community

A rendering of the Mountain View Cohousing Community’s plans for a 19-unit condominium complex, above, highlights the addition of fruit and shade trees.

Construction is under way on the Mountain View Cohousing Community’s 19-unit condominium project at 445 Calderon Ave.

Few of the project’s future residents are more excited about it than Susan Burwen, founding member of the cohousing group.

“At long last, our dream of cohousing is becoming a reality,” she said at last month’s groundbreaking.

The Cohousing Community’s construction partner, Barry Swenson Builder, estimated that construction would take 15 months, with residents moving in as early as summer 2014.

The complex is the first cohousing community built from the ground up in Silicon Valley.

Burwen and her husband, David, are longtime Mountain View residents who initiated the idea. The cohousing concept, introduced in the 1980s, affords members the privacy of their own homes as well as the benefits of shared resources and neighbors with diverse interests. The project design features open space and trees.

“There’s underground parking so that we could have as much open space as possible,” she said.

The Burwens were inspired to promote the cohousing effort because Susan had experienced a similar living situation earlier in life and loved it. Cohousing offers an opportunity for older residents to live among friends instead of facing social isolation, she added.

“In cohousing, you have an emphasis on community,” she said. “It’s designed so that you’re likely to run into your neighbors when you go to get your mail.”

Among the common areas is a 6,000- square-foot community center, which includes fitness and media rooms.

According to Kent Gerber, senior project manager at Barry Swenson Builder, the new community is a first for the area.

“It’s an incredibly unique project, and (we are) honored to be part of something so meaningful to the city of Mountain View and the Peninsula,” he said.

Members of the Mountain View Cohousing Community purchased the land four years ago and engaged cohousing architect Chuck Durrett to design the project. The property will feature an organic garden, a number of new fruit and shade trees and an underground garage.

The city of Mountain View unanimously approved the project in 2011, and the Greenbelt Alliance endorsed its environmentally sustainable amenities.

Among its green advantages is its location. The close proximity to downtown and the Stevens Creek Trail should encourage residents to walk.

The historical Bakotich farmhouse previously located on the property, one of the oldest surviving structures in Mountain View, is set for restoration and will be retained on the site. The small house, built by Charles and Emma Abbott circa 1885, will become the project’s “front door” when relocated to a prominent position near the street.

Although the Burwens jumpstarted the project, several other prospective residents joined in the effort. Burwen said residents collaborated with the architect to design the layout.

“It was very much a group effort,” she said. “We already feel like a community.”

For more information, visit www.mountainviewcohousing.org.

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