First cohousing neighborhood in the state readies for first resi - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

First cohousing neighborhood in the state readies for first residents

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A unique neighborhood, and the first-of-its-kind in the state, is nearing completion for its first residents.

Prairie Hill in Iowa City is being built by a group known as Iowa City Cohousing. It will be the first cohousing community of its kind in the city and state. The idea comes from a model started in Denmark.  Plans for Prairie Hill first began back in 2009 and, in a few weeks, it will welcome its first residents.

It operates somewhat like condominiums but with a much larger emphasis on creating a community. It features 36 living units that are built around one communal building.  At Prairie Hill, it's called the "common house."

The common house comes with a large-size kitchen and dining area, where residents will be able to cook together and share meals throughout the week. It'll also have a playroom for kids.

"It's an intentional community. We're here because we want to live with other people. We'll also have the privacy of our own units, our own houses, but we'll also be able to be with everybody when we want to," Craig Mosher said. Mosher is one of the residents preparing to move in.

Part of being in the community is sharing tools and facilities. There will be community gardens, orchards, and a tool shed.

Donna Rupp, of Iowa City, was busy laying tile in her one-bedroom unit that she'll soon move into. For her, it's not only about downsizing but, moreso, having the community aspect.

"In this place, my neighbors are my friends.They're people who I depend on, and who depend on me," Rupp said.

Rupp, Mosher, and Marcia Shaffer will all be neighbors under one fourplex that is nearing completion.

"Each day, we come see what the workers have done," Shaffer said.

Shaffer said one of the biggest draws the complex had for her was that it's eco-friendly. All buildings are electrical, built to gold LEED certification, and use solar panels.

In total, 12 buildings will make up the eight acres of land that Prairie Hill is being built on. The homes were built close to each other intentionally.

"We could have spread them out more, but the idea is let's have people closer together," Rupp said.

The housing units are able to stay on the smaller scale because guest rooms will be available in the common house for when friends and family visit.

"Houses have gotten so large because everybody has extra bedrooms for occasional guests. If we can put those bedrooms in the common house, then I can have one bedroom unit and be perfectly happy," Mosher said.

Families of all sizes are welcome at Prairie Hill. Shaffer, who is retired, said they want it to be a community that can rely on each other, and that means helping out with childcare for the younger families.

"It's going to be a wonderful place for children," Mosher said. "They'll be a lot of babysitters available," Rupp added.

Units at Prairie Hill are still available. Iowa City Cohousing offers information meetings twice a month so people can learn more about the alternative living. More information can be found on their website here.

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