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We are a group of local folks working to create a new housing alternative in Iowa City. We are building a 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. The next one is currently springing to life right here in Iowa City!

Some background

We started meeting in 2009 to explore alternatives to traditional housing arrangements. We all share an interest in living in a community that reflects our values. We want a living arrangement that will allow us to reap the benefits of community life and still retain 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  

Our community 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 a "common house" with a large kitchen and dining area where we can cook together and share meals several times a week. The common house includes two guest rooms as well as meeting spaces, a cozy living room, a playroom for kids, a laundry, and an activity room with workout equipment and space for projects.

Where we are in the process 

Our community, which we've christened Prairie Hill, is currently under construction. Two-thirds of our homes have been sold. We're 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.

You can watch the building progress on our Facebook page.

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.

See the site plan

Together with the architect, the engineer, and Iowa City staff, we have developed a site plan which shows the configuration of the homes as well as the placement of the common house, parking, orchards, and community gardens. See the site plans (PDF format).

Our building plans

Our architect, John Shaw, has designed a spectacular common house which includes a large dining room and kitchen, shared work spaces, and four studio apartments.

He has also designed individual homes which will nestle into our hillside. Homes will vary in size from 645-1600 square feet. There will be a combination of two-story duplex units, attached one-level townhomes, and what we're calling "stacked flats." The stacked flats are fourplexes with two units on the upper level, and two on the lower level.

See the elevations and floorplans.

Moving in

Twelve households are currently living in Prairie Hill—two in the stacked flats at the top of the hill, four in the apartments on the second floor of the common house, two in the duplexes, and four in the townhouses. Other folks will be moving in very soon. So things are happening quickly, but we still have room for you. It's not too late to have a say in the design of your dream dwelling spot.

Interested? Come join us!

If this sounds interesting to you, we would love to have you join us to learn more. 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.