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Iowa City Cohousing was started by a group of local folks working to create a new housing alternative in Iowa City. We are building a new neighborhood based on the "cohousing" model which started in Denmark and has now spread worldwide. There are hundreds of cohousing communities in the U.S, Canada, Australia, Sweden, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, Austria and elsewhere. We've christened ours Prairie Hill. It's is the first cohousing community in Iowa.

Some background

We started meeting in 2009 to explore alternatives to traditional housing arrangements. We all shared an interest in living in a community that reflected our values. We wanted a living arrangement that would allow us to reap the benefits of community life while still retaining our privacy.

After a lot of reading and discussion, field trips, and consultation, we found the Danish cohousing model incorporated just about everything we were looking for:

  • A multi-generational community
  • Social and economic diversity
  • Community and privacy
  • Green buildings with a small carbon footprint
  • Jointly-owned common spaces with shared resources
  • Emphasis on alternative transportation

Our plan  

Prairie Hill will include 36 eco-friendly residences clustered around a shared pedestrian-only green space within a short walk of community gardens and orchards. Each household has a private kitchen as well as access to shared facilities in the nearby "common house" which features a large kitchen and dining area where we can cook together and share a weekly community meal. The common house also includes four studio apartments and two guest rooms as well as a cozy living room, a playroom for kids, a laundry, and an activity room with workout equipment and space for projects.

Common house

Common house, lower entrance

Where to find us

Prairie Hill is situated on 7.8 acres of land on Miller Avenue, just south of Benton Hill Park on the west side of the river. We're just a mile and a half from downtown Iowa City and within walking/biking distance to campus. We're close to a grocery store, restaurants, and city and university bus stops. Our street address is 140 Prairie Hill Lane, Iowa City.

Where we are in the process 

In addition to the common house shown above, our architect, John Shaw, has also designed individual homes which nestle into our hillside. Homes vary in size from 515- to 1290-square feet. There are one- and two-story duplexes, one-level townhomes, and what we are calling "stacked flats." The stacked flats are fourplexes with two units on the upper level, and two on the lower level.

Prairie Hill site plan
Elevations and floorplans

Our first residents moved into their new homes in March of 2018. Sixteen households are now living at Prairie Hill. Three-quarters of our homes have been sold or spoken for. All duplexes, townhomes, and studio apartments in the common house have been sold.

Four more stacked flat buildings are planned—these will bring us to our goal of 36 units. So, there is still room for you!

Interested? Come join us!

If cohousing sounds interesting to you, we would love to have you come for a visit. We are seeking people who share our enthusiasm for sustainable multi-generational community living. Here's a link to information on how to get involved.

Watch the building progress on our Facebook page.

Stacked flat

Stacked flat at the top of the hill

View from top of hill showing stacked flat and other buildings.

View from our hilltop community garden looking down toward Miller Avenue. The red building in the foreground is one of the stacked flats. The building with the bright red roof further down the hill is the common house.