Sierra Club Article


Cohousing – a type of intentional community made up of private homes supplemented by shared facilities – has been rising in popularity throughout the U.S. With its emphasis on sustainability and green design, it was only natural and inevitable that the concept make its way to Gainesville. It’s been tried here before, but now it appears as though cohousing is an idea whose time has come.

Gainesville Cohousing is in the process of purchasing 4.75 wooded acres within walking distance of the Thornebrook Shopping Center. Plans call for the construction of 24 individually-owned homes, as well as a communal pool and a common house for socializing, shared meals and celebrations. The physical design of the community will enhance opportunities for interaction and cooperation among neighbors; car parking will be restricted to a designated area, encouraging the use of foot paths.

According to Gainesville Cohousing spokesman Brooks Nelson, the community will have immense appeal to environmentally-minded owners: “”Our goal is to offer efficient appliances, passive and active solar, geothermal heat pumps, insulation, airflow via cupolas, water conservation, rain collection, cisterns, grey water re-use, composting toilets, low footprint, gardening, native landscaping and xeriscaping.”

Gainesville Cohousing is intended to be intergenerational in nature, inviting families of all ages to live in the community. The community will be planned, owned and managed by the residents –- who also share activities which may include cooking, dining, child care, gardening, and governance of the community. Common facilities may include a kitchen, dining room, laundry, child care areas, offices, Internet access, guest rooms, and recreational features. Besides sustainability, a key design element will be affordability. House will range in size from 800-1700 square feet.

Future resident Chuck Broward sums up the Gainesville Cohousing philosophy succinctly: “We strive to balance our needs for privacy and companionship, sharing our skills and resources while respecting each others’ property.”