Capital Hill Urban CoHousing: An Asset to the Community

capitol hill cohousing

The Capitol Hill Urban CoHousing project is in the heart of Capitol Hill, one of the Seattle’s most densely populated neighborhoods. So what distinguishes the Capitol Hill Urban CoHousing project from just another apartment building on Capitol Hill? The cohousing concept incorporates participatory process, neighborhood design, common facilities, resident management, non-hierarchical structure and decision-making and has no shared community economy. The project is currently being constructed on a 4,500sf lot that has nine homes, community space, and ground-related commercial space. The design is aiming to achieve near Passivhaus standards with long-term energy and water savings and the physical design encourages social contact and individual space, including a year round urban farm on the rooftop. The units will be rented on a long-term rental model at market rates of $2,500 – $3,000 with a membership rate of $30,000 and monthly dues of $40. Cohousing is a great model especially for dense neighborhoods however my question is how can the average middle-income family afford such high living costs? The cohousing concept should be reviewed so similar developments are inclusive of different incomes instead of fixed exclusive high prices. A more sustainable cohousing model might have four units dedicated to low-income families, four units for middle income families, and one penthouse that would help subsidize the low income units. If Seattle developers do not address low and middle-income family housing, the city will be at risk of turning into San Francisco – where the entire workforce has to commute into the city. As Seattle grows, we need affordable housing and neighborhood initiatives like the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict project that help address community equity, culture and identity. To this point, it is imperative that we design dense living spaces and maybe even cohousing for families of all incomes.

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