Slide show set Feb. 15 on Arts Cohousing Nevada City | TheUnion.com

Slide show set Feb. 15 on Arts Cohousing Nevada City

Keri Brenner
Staff Writer

Organizers of a proposed arts cohousing village in Nevada City have set a date next month for artists, writers, musicians and other creative types to get more information on the project and make a commitment.

"Time is running out," said organizer Franceska Alexander, of The Alexander Gallery in Nevada City. "We need to see who is going to step up and do this."

A slide show presentation, which is open to the public, will be 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 15, at the Nevada City Veterans Memorial Building, 415 N. Pine St., Nevada City.

Cost is $10. Architect Charles Durrett, who is helping to organize the project, will show slides of cohousing communities and explain the benefits.

"This is really an idea whose time has come," said Alexander, a painter as well as the gallery operator. "It's really a beautiful marriage of being an artist-in-residence and living in community right here in Nevada City."

An earlier organizational meeting on Jan. 13 drew about 50 people, but Alexander said she is still seeking a core committed group of between four to six people to get it started. She said the people who want to do the project will need to sign up in time for a two-day "Get it Built" workshop to be offered in March.

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"I love the model," she said. "I want to be able to do my art while also living in community, but I'm in too much overload in my own life to be carrying it on my own."

Alexander and Durrett are in escrow on a 2.2-acre site at Highway 49 and Cement Hill Road. The deadline to close escrow is the end of April, but a committed group is needed before that time, Durrett said.

"We need to know if we have a project," Durrett said. "We can't wait until then."

Durrett, who designed Nevada County's other two successful cohousing projects in Nevada City and Grass Valley and who lives in Nevada City Cohousing, said the arts concept can be adapted in various ways and adjusted for cost.

Initial plans call for a 17-unit complex, some with studios, and a common building that has a common studio and meeting room.

"If I had to guess, I would say one-third (of the units) would have the studios in the houses, one third no studios and the other third would be using the common studio," Durrett said. "Of course, my guesses are not always accurate."

He said the per-unit cost is flexible.

"If you really want to get in, we'll find a way to make it work within your budget," he said.

Attendees at the Jan. 13 meeting included locals as well as people from Colorado, Santa Cruz and Carmel. At least one person from the Cement Hill Neighborhood Association attended, but that group is not taking any position on the project as of yet, said association Treasurer Susan Wiesner.

"It's too premature," she said.

Durrett and Alexander spoke to the association members at a meeting on Jan. 5.

"In my view, there couldn't be a better potential neighbor than an artist cohousing project," Durrett said.

To move ahead, the project would need the city of Nevada City to grant a zoning change from R1 to R2, as well as a building permit. Alexander said city officials "love the concept of arts cohousing," but have declined to comment so far on that particular location, she said.

Some of the attendees at the Jan. 13 meeting were concerned about noise from Highway 49, but Durrett and Alexander said the noise factor can be mitigated through certain building materials and the design of the project.

Alexander said other sites might be possible, but assembling a committed group is the first priority.

One of the benefits she sees is in freeing up the artists-in-residence to do their work, not being distracted by property maintenance and other duties of running a household. The residents would share obligations such as landscaping or maintaining the common area.

"Cohousing is an awesome way to share the mundane," Alexander said. "As a creator, as a maker, it gives you ample time to do what you want to do."

Cohousing also offers the possibility of collaboration on celebrations, such as hosting a daily morning meditation and dance class in the common building, as took place recently for 10 days in locations throughout Nevada City, she said.

"It's the best of all worlds," Alexander said. "It's a good match."

To see more information on Arts Cohousing Nevada City, visit its Facebook page. A page is also set up for the event on Feb. 15.

For more information on cohousing, see http://www.cohousing.org.

To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email kbrenner@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

know & go

Who: Arts Cohousing Nevada City

What: Slide show presentation

Where: Veterans Memorial Building Nevada City, 415 N. Pine St.

When: 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 15. Cost $10.

More info: See Facebook eventpage for Arts Cohousing Nevada City slide show presentation

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