On July 15, a group of full-time Truckee residents gathered to celebrate the purchase of a unique 7.9-acre industrial redevelopment property on West River Street and the future site of their cohousing neighborhood, a community designed and financed by local residents.
The Truckee Cohousing group, comprised of approximately 20 member families, has been meeting regularly since mid 2017 and recently formed as Truckee River Commons, LLC.
Julia and Lorenzo Worster, both teachers in Truckee schools, sparked the most recent effort to establish cohousing in Truckee after experiencing a brief residency at Nevada City Cohousing. “Living in a tight-knit community with multiple generations made it easier and more joyful to raise two young children while balancing two careers,” said Julia.
Even with two full-time salaries in the local school district the Worsters found it difficult to finance and compete for local housing. Creating cohousing with small homes and shared neighborhood resources seemed to be a path towards living more sustainably and becoming homeowners in Truckee’s competitive, high-priced housing market.
The cohousing group has leveraged the resources of the recently formed the Mountain Housing Council of Tahoe Truckee, a project of the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, by using the research and definitions provided by the Mountain Housing Council to establish the goal of developing one third of the neighborhood to qualify as achievable local housing for Truckee residents earning up to 170 percent of the area median income (AMI). “Our goal is to provide a great place to live for families who work in Truckee,” said Swenja Ziegler, the affordability team lead.
“Additionally, the Mountain Housing Council has introduced the project to investors which is exceptionally helpful,” project lead Jan Holan said.
“Cohousing is a fantastic model for our region and we hope to see more locally-sourced solutions like this in the future,” said Stacy Caldwell, CEO of Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation. “This project delivers in so many ways: units for achievable local housing, centrally located housing, and improved river access. We’re thrilled to welcome this innovative solution of community-focused housing to our region.”
Cohousing is an international model based on the idea of creating an intentional community of private homes designed by its future residents. Fully equipped dwellings complete with all the expected amenities surround a shared common house and green space. The common house with its large kitchen and dining area, creates an excellent place to gather for shared meals and special events. It serves as the community “living room,” with clustered mailboxes, laundry facilities, and play spaces for kids and grownups.
Many cohousing neighborhoods are designed to keep cars to the periphery, which promotes friendly exchanges with neighbors and creates safe, car-free spaces for children to play. Truckee Cohousing’s site team conducted an exhaustive search of all the potential sites within walking distance of downtown Truckee to lower the impact and use of cars. “Other site considerations included excellent sun exposure for energy efficiency and accessibility to trails and nature. Being able to jump in the Truckee River was a bonus,” said John Stanec, site team member and physician at Tahoe Forest Hospital.
The working title of the development is Truckee River Village. In addition to the cohousing neighborhood, the group’s vision includes creating a public plaza, park and trail, and replacing the non-conforming industrial uses with housing above ground floor commercial. The plan is aligned with the Town of Truckee’s Downtown River Revitalization Plan adopted in 2005.
Holan is collaborating with local businesses and entrepreneurs to further develop the vision of the future commercial uses. Some examples of uses considered are a riverfront cafe, collaborative health and wellness center, coworking space, adventure center, and child care. “Our goal is to develop commercial uses to support the new neighborhood that locals and visitors can enjoy while minimizing the need to get in the car,” Holan said.
Prior to closing on the property last Thursday, the cohousing group has been engaged in impromptu work parties to clean up the site. The group has hauled off three large dumpsters and about 100 yards of junk and trash off of the site. “It’s one of the benefits of having a group of engaged citizens investing in the property,” Holan said. Additionally, with the help of the Town of Truckee, dozens of abandoned cars have been taken off the property in recent months.
Regular site tours and meetings are being held for potential homebuyers and investors to find out more about cohousing and plans to make our river a more accessible feature of our town. Info: truckeecohousing.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org