Bozeman Cohousing

Bozeman Cohousing on Wagon Wheel Road in south Bozeman. Construction on the development, which is still under city review, is planned to begin this fall.

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A group of people ranging from young families to retirees plan to break ground this fall on a “co-housing” development in south Bozeman.

Bozeman Cohousing plans to build over 40 units, ranging from studios to three-bedroom homes on a little more than five acres off of Wagon Wheel Road.

The group formed in 2019 and has spent the time since gathering members, developing site plans and working with Bozeman to get a new type of residential building added to the city code.

They’ve also learned how to work as a community.

Marci Young, who is on the marketing team, said the group’s members include people with a range of expertise and skills that have come in handy, including architects.

“It’s like a potluck that went right instead of a potluck that ended up with all dessert,” Young said.

With site plans under city review, the group is getting close to breaking ground on Bozeman’s first co-housing development.

Erik Bonnett, an architect for the project who also plans to live there, said the group is hoping to start construction this fall. Construction is expected to take a year to 18 months, Bonnett said.

The concept, Bonnett said, is to build smaller homes — ranging in size from 576 square feet to 1,458 square feet — with shared common spaces.

There are several different types of units, Bonnett said, including some that are one level, intended for older residents.

Prices for the homes range from the mid-$200,000s to the mid-$500,000s.

In addition to the homes, the $18 million development will include common spaces like a shared garage shop, bike storage, a larger dining room and a covered, greenhouse-like atrium space for use in the winter for activities.

Bonnett, who has worked on cohousing developments in the past, said the goal is for the physical structures to foster a community feeling.

“By co-locating these things it provides this non-forced, organic way for these social interactions to happen,” Bonnett said. “I think sometimes people think co-housing is going to be like getting in a circle and singing Kumbaya, but it’s much more than that.”

Other common spaces include guest rooms and playroom for children.

The group is also planning to power the development with onsite solar panels, Bonnet said, and building energy efficiency into the designs.

About 80% of the units are already reserved, said Mark Owkes, a founder of the group. The group is composed of young couples and families, single people and people who are looking for place where they can grow older.

The diverse age range was important for future co-housing resident Katie Gilbertson, who got involved with the group after she and her husband began looking for a home to buy last year.

The couple wanted something that felt similar to their current condo, where they can easily hang out with their neighbors.

Gilbertson said they also look forward to their daughter growing up around other children.

“She’s an only child and we don’t have family here, so it gives her connection,” Gilbertson said.

Future resident Annie Johnson had similar reasons for joining the group.

Johnson, who is retired and has been downsizing since her husband died a few years ago, said she was looking for a place that felt similar to her small-town upbringing, where neighbors naturally supported each other.

She was also concerned she could become more isolated as she grew older.

“The idea of being in the neighborhood essentially with families and kids of all ages and other adults of all ages is really appealing,” Johnson said. “Diversity of age, I think it’s a really healthy type of community.”

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Nora Shelly can be reached at nshelly@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2607.

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