Cohabitation Saturday talking point

PORT TOWNSEND — About 5 miles from the city center, a particular type of residential development is envisioned: Newt Crossing, where eight houses and a common house are part of the plan.

The 17-acre wooded parcel, off Sand Road and not far from Blue Sky Drive, could be Port Townsend’s next cohabitation village. It is also the subject of a presentation by internationally renowned cohabitation architect Charles Durrett at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Quimper Grange, 1219 Corona St.

Admission to the two-hour program is free.

As for the concept of cohabitation – private homes and lots of common space – “most people talk about it before they come to the table,” Durett said in an interview from his office in Nevada City, Calif.

In his presentation, the architect involved in more than 50 North American cohousing communities will discuss how Newt Crossing could take shape.

It would be a place where about 16 residents would share meals, gardening, babysitting, elder care, carpooling and other activities, he noted.

Durrett was part of the construction of Quimper Village, a senior living cohousing community completed in Port Townsend in 2017. The condominium complex was created by 28 households, he said, “and what they did was phenomenal.”

Newt Crossing is likely to appeal to young families and seniors, Durrett predicted. It’s typical for condo owners to invest about 20% of their home’s value before moving in, something like a down payment, he added. Although he did not calculate the costs for Newt Crossing, he estimated that 20% could be between $60,000 and $80,000.

He hopes people interested in cohabitation — but who lack that kind of cash — will keep an open mind.

“The most important thing,” Durrett said, is “the immense amount of creativity needed to make it work. Sometimes people find the kind of down payment apprehensive. But when eight households come together, hire the right mortgage brokers and hire the [creative people] they need,” he said, he has seen them “succeed in performing miracles, again and again.

“The thing I love most about planning cohousing communities is that people get to know and care about each other,” Durrett said as the project progresses.

Those attending his presentation at the Grange de Quimper and wishing to view the Newt Crossing property will be invited for a walk on the grounds at 11 a.m. on Sunday. Instructions will be provided at Saturday’s conference.

The property now has two houses and a large garage on it, according to newtcrossing.orgthe potential community’s website.

Jonathan Boughton and Eva Holm write that they purchased the property in the late 1990s, “with the firm intention of creating a community of sustainability where families could raise their children and grow old together. Raising two boys and sharing the land with a variety of friends kept them busy,” they write, “but the organizational structure to create a legal sharing community was never present.

Now the owners are working with Durrett and his consulting firm, the Cohousing Company (cohousingco.com). In addition to its website, Newt Crossing has a Facebook page and a voicemail phone number, 360-328-1192.

“These new types of neighborhoods where people have begun to consciously create a high-level community are essential if we are to begin mitigating global warming,” Durrett wrote in Saturday’s program announcement.

“Come and learn what it’s like to imagine and co-create such a neighborhood.”

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Jefferson County Senior Reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]



Jessica C. Bell