Co-housing project planned

River Place Intentional Community to feature 18 units

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— A private partnership is proposing to develop 18 co-housing units, including a half dozen live/work lofts, on the city's east side.

River Place Intentional Community has submitted pre-application documents with the City of Steamboat Springs Planning Department. Representatives and participants in the partnership are Rob Dick and Ellen Hoj, who lead the Regional Affordable Living Foundation. However, their involvement in River Place is independent of their role in RALF.

In addition to 12 single family homes and the six live/work lofts, the project is designed to include a "common house" that would include shared community space for storage, shared meals and recreation. Dick was involved in Steamboat's first co-housing project, Butcher Knife. River Place would be the second.

"We believe this to be one of the most innovative residential mixed-use projects in the recent past," Dick and Hoj wrote in a joint letter to city planning. "The community stands to gain from this partnership. While it is entirely a private sector development, it furthers many community goals."

In addition to Hoj and Dick, eight families and individuals are currently members of the partnership.

Plans for River Place deliberately include a variety of homes to encourage mixed use and a range of incomes. Some of the houses will be quite small in the neighborhood of 1,000 square feet. Others will range from 1,000 to 1,700 square feet.

The live/work lofts will be two stories and measure about 1,200 square feet. They are attached, except for an opening designed to preserve open space. Commercial activity would be limited to reduce impact on the neighborhood.

Architect Shelley Pastachak, a member of the community, is preparing tentative elevation drawings based on input from the community.

"This project is a bit different than most in that it is being designed for a number of certain individuals who live here now," Hoj and Dick wrote. "It is not speculative in nature. As such, decisions on the design are a group decision rather than a group of individual custom houses."

Pastachak said her goal is to create a grouping of buildings that make contextual sense on the city's edge.

"We're trying to avoid plopping an urban type of neighborhood on the edge of town, although in terms of density, it is more urban," Pastachak said. "I went out in the county and concentrated on looking at farms and ranches and how those buildings are grouped as a reference."

The design of the live/work lofts, where Pastachak hopes to make her own home/office, is a little more of a challenge than the single-family homes. She said she's endeavoring to give them a singular look that is both appropriate for the commercial uses, but appealing in a rural way.

The 2.73-acre site for River Place is on the west side of U.S. 40. Christian Heritage Church is to the south, Motel 8 is to the north. There are significant wetlands in the area.

Dick is one of the owners of the land, and is in the process of buying out his partner, Jon Peddie.

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