Greetings from the Chicks. Hard to believe that we have less than a week left in our journey. With twelve interviews behind us; our heads, heart and laptop are full of images, videos and notes. We share our initial impressions while they are still fresh and plan on putting the material together in a more comprehensive fashion at a later time.
Silver Sage is located just across the street from Wild Sage in the hip Holiday neighborhood but feels like a completely different world. It is comprised of ten market rate homes and six affordable units, again a stipulation put forth by the City of Boulder to encourage economic diversity. Please bear in mind that what is considered affordable in Boulder is very different than other places.
We sat down in the media room/library of the Common House with Annie Russell, an elegant mature woman who is both a resident and instrumental community facilitator in the cohousing movement. She has worked closely with Jim Leach, the developer behind Silver Sage who also lives there with his wife.
The level of design, detail and elegance of Silver Sage was very apparent and attracted an older 55 plus, affluent and sophisticated group. Although they don’t market themselves as a “senior” community, it is what is called a “naturally occurring retirement community.” Most of the owners are mature adults who have finished their parenting and working years and prefer to live with others in a similar phase of life.
Annie initially lived in Wild Sage with her son, but as their lives shifted she happily moved to this more tranquil setting. There were no children’s toys scattered about and the landscaping was impeccable. However, the cost to maintain the community grounds and amenities was higher because the elders chose to outsource much of that work to others. That is fine for more affluent communities such as this but is proving to be a challenge for others.
After the interview, Annie took us around the complex and introduced us to a group of six adults sitting in a spacious and tastefully decorated living room having conversation. Several of the residents volunteered to show us their homes including Arthur Okner, a longstanding cohousing advocate. The layout was very well thought through and he carefully pointed out some of the design features to us. Arthur quickly shared some of his views of cohousing that included how important it was to focus on building social capital as it was to design details.
We then went to see Annie’s place. There was no discernable difference in quality between the market rate homes and the affordable units other than size. Annie’s home, a mere 900 s.f. was tastefully done–a comfortable and lovely environment.
The Common House is over 5,000 s.f. and looks out over the lovely interior courtyard gardens. We can see the appeal of spending your “silver years,” in a place such as this but it does come with a higher price tag.