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Co-housing development considered for Glen Osborne

| Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Sewickley Valley is home to a myriad of housing options — from an urban feel in Sewickley, to housing developments in Bell Acres and estates in Sewickley Heights.

Soon, the area could be home to another option in residential living — co-housing.

Residents who live in a co-housing development participate in the day-to-day operations and often share many amenities, said Doug Cooper, chairman of the Glen Osborne Woods membership committee.

His group is seeking to build a co-housing community of about 22 to 24 units in a wooded area along Glen Mitchell Road, not far from its intersection with Beaver Road.

Engineers are conducting feasibility studies of the site, said Cooper, who lives in Friendship.

“We think we can make this work at this site,” he said.

The development could consist of one-, two- or three-bedroom houses for multigenerational families — an important component to a co-housing community, said Cooper, 66.

“In today's world where families are so split off, it gives children growing up in these communities … a chance to grow up with older people who care about them and care about their well-being,” he said.

Co-housing developments offer communal areas and invite residents to become social, helping to make decisions impacting the entire group, Cooper said.

While each unit has its own bathrooms, living and dining rooms and a kitchen, community spaces could offer areas for group meals, gardening, entertaining, guest rooms and a workshop, among other amenities.

While Cooper couldn't provide firm costs, he estimated a family could pay between $250,000 for a smaller unit and $400,000 for a larger one.

Initial investor costs could rise from $5,000 to $10,000 as construction nears, he said.

Being part of a co-housing living environment isn't for everyone, Cooper said.

“People who take part in these communities have to be willing to give to the common good,” he said.

“You're buying your house, but you're also buying a share of the land, plus the common house.

“Lots of people say, ‘It's interesting, but it's not for me.'”

Despite the closeness with neighbors and shared amenities, Cooper said, not everybody in a co-housing environment is going to get along.

“You really are invested in knowing your neighbors,” he said. “But it doesn't mean everybody is going to be your friend. The point is that you get what you hope to get.”

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408

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