Grass Valley’s Wolf Creek senior cohousing project almost complete | TheUnion.com

Back to: Local News

Grass Valley’s Wolf Creek senior cohousing project almost complete

For the residents of Wolf Creek Lodge, amassing their neighbors came before building the neighborhood itself.

"We're not buying real estate, we're buying a way of life," said Dick Shannon, an owner of one of the 23 residences that have already been spoken for at the 30-unit cohousing facility in south Grass Valley.

Cohousing is an intentional community of private residences that share common areas.

There are hundreds of them across the country, but when Wolf Creek opens Oct. 6, it will be one of only a handful of senior cohousing communities nationwide, said Kathryn McCamant, the developer and project manager.

In addition to one- and two-bedroom condo-like homes for singles and couples, which cost between $190,000 to nearly $500,000, there is a 4,000-square-foot common area for community gatherings, cooperative activities and guest accommodations.

The facility has a master kitchen for nightly group dinners, office space, sitting areas, gardens, a place for gaming and even a hot tub.

"You get your own space like any other place, but then there is all this common space," McCamant said.

Shannon has waited half a dozen years for his new home to be ready, and he's been involved the whole time.

"The thing about this community, what's unique, is the buyers are co-developers," McCamant said. "That way, it is a custom neighborhood, rather than a custom home."

Some of the owners, like Shannon, have been involved since 2006, recruiting residents to help outline the layout of the facility, and the types of common areas and private spaces, McCamant said. Construction on the $11.2 million facility was supposed to begin in 2008, but that year the economy took a nose dive and developments nationwide ground to a halt.

McCamant credits committed owners like Shannon, who paid around 20 percent of the cost of his cohousing unit up front to keep the project moving.

"This project would have died several times if not for the buyers who hung in there together," McCamant said.

But Shannon and his neighbors credit McCamant and architect Chuck Durrett for not abandoning the project.

"One of the things that kept us involved is (McCamant's) tenacity," Shannon said. "The group stuck together through thick and thin."

In doing so, the residents are already a community, even though their soon-to-be homes are not quite finished. Eagerly awaiting the day they can move in, the half-dozen owners

The Union spoke to Tuesday all mentioned the sense of community as their motivation for coming from places as far away as Los Angeles and Virginia to Wolf Creek Lodge.

Even though Wolf Creek offers owners a comfortable and communal lifestyle, what surrounds the facility is itself an attribute.

The cohousing compound is a mere block away from Pine Creek Shopping Center, which has a grocery store, salons, restaurants, a gym and an assortment of other shopping options.

It also overlooks Wolf Creek, which gives residents a scenic pine forest view and access to hiking trails.

And then there's the Nevada City Theater, the Yuba River and skiing 45 minutes away at Sugar Bowl Ski Resort, the owners said.

"That combination is almost impossible to find," McCamant said. "This is the (cohousing) property I've been looking for for 20 years."

McCamant & Durrett Architects designed the building to be more than 60 percent more energy-efficient than current California code, which garnered a California State 2011 Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award for Sustainable Communities.

With everything the community could need within walking distance, Wolf Creek Lodge provide seniors the assurance of future independence, should any of them ever lose the ability to drive, said Claire Manhart, who moved from San Francisco for her unit.

"I think about how my parents spent the last third of their lives," said Bob Miller, also an owner. "There is a tendency for people to become isolated as they get older. But that won't happen here."

With community and independence assured, the Shannons, Millers and Manhart are looking forward to moving in over the next couple of months.

"This is about living, not waiting to die," said Bob's wife, Claire Miller,

For more information on Wolf Creek Lodge, visit http://www.wolfcreeklodge.org or call (530) 478-1970.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email crosacker@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4236.