What if your neighbors were considered an “extended family”? New multi-housing development aims to make it a reality in Houston’s East End

A long-awaited cohousing development is finally coming to fruition as a group of Houstonians break ground in what is described as the first cohousing development in Texas.

CoHousing Houston begins construction Friday on a 33-unit residential community on a 1.5-acre property at 114 Delmar in the East End. Residents are expected to move in by 2023, according to the group’s website.

The group describes the project as the state’s first development designed around cohabitation, a communal lifestyle involving a collection of private homes grouped around shared spaces intentionally intended to foster community.

While various forms of shared housing and co-living arrangements already exist in the state, the group says its development will be differentiated by its intentional use of shared spaces – such as communal kitchens and community gardens – as well as regular group meals and activities to bring neighbors together. A 4,200 square foot gathering place, called the Common House, will serve as a venue to host meals and other activities.

Residents can share the cost of daily expenses such as transportation, groceries, and internet usage. The community can also act as a form of extended family whose members offer each other to look after each other’s children or to lead each other.

For the East End development, residents will have their own private homes, kitchens and living areas in addition to common areas.

The project lasted five years, said Kelli Soika of CoHousing Houston, but the coronavirus pandemic sparked interest in the development as some people struggled with the social isolation of quarantines and lockdowns.

“People come to us [planning] meetings and express that the past few years have been difficult because they simply do not have enough contacts outside of their homes or immediate family,” Soika said in a statement. “When offices and schools closed, many people found themselves missing daily encounters with other people,”

The cohabitation group has 25 participating households, including 37 adults and 9 children. Members hold a stake in the overall project in addition to owning their individual units.

The community’s 33 condominiums have shared walls with homes ranging from one to four bedrooms. Prices range between $300,000 and $800,000 per home, according to CoHousing Houston. Eight homes, ranging in size from 900 square feet to 1,100 square feet in the price range of $420,000 to $520,000, are still available.

With sustainability in mind, the design of the development includes a series underground wells that exchange heat with ground temperature to preheat water and cool air without water heaters or standard air conditioning, Soika said. In addition to a low-impact storm management design, the community also has space for solar power and electric vehicle chargers.

The group hired Troon Development to oversee the project, along with architectural designs from Boulder, Colorado-based Caddis PC and Houston-based English + Associates.

marissa.luck@chron.com, @marissaluck7

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