Oahu's first co-housing initiative


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How great would it be to be able to choose your neighbors and work with the developer of your condo ... before it's even built? That's the concept behind Oahu's first co-housing initiative, happening right now for a condo planned on Pumehana St.

Co-housing is a concept that's common on the Mainland—instead of developers creating a project under their own vision and then dictating what buyers can have, the buyers get together first and have the developer create their dream community.

"They tend to design these residences so we're forced to see our neighbors," says Deborah Zysman, who is part of the Honolulu Housing Hui LLC. "Nowadays, people's neighborhoods are such that you have your own space, go into your own little shell and never interact. This will have shared common areas: a kids' playroom, a music room, a shared dining area for parties, some families will have meals a couple times a week together ... it's up to the community."

Zysman joined the group about a year ago, although it had already been established in late 2008 by a group of UH faculty families in Manoa. The hui began a search for affordable housing that could replicate the sense of community they had found in faculty housing and preserve the lifestyle from convenience to the University.

The hui had a meeting just last night to go over plans with the developer—G.C. Pacific Inc.—and are in both a recruitment and design phase. Interested buyers can attend the meetings to inquire about the project, and the group discusses the logistics (such as square footage and prices) of the condo. Since there is an element of ensuring a safe community, new buyers need to receive a consensus from the group—much like a co-op.

"There's about eight families that bought in so far, and we're planning to have 24 units. If you're joining in this early phase, you can make your choices, and from there the prices will firm up," says Zysman. "The plan is to start building next summer and move in by early 2013."

Prices for this condo are estimated to start in the $400,000 range for a 750-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit, up to the $600,000 range for a 1,200-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom unit. All units are planned to have two parking stalls.

If you'd like to learn more about this co-housing project, visit www.honoluluhousinghui.org or contact Evan Anderson at evan@honoluluhousinghui.org. The next meeting will not be until January 2012.

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