Village Hearth Cohousing
Five years ago, Pat McAulay and her wife, Margaret Roesch, dreamed of a place where LGBTQ adults could grow older with the support of those who could understand their life’s journey.
Today, their dream has become a reality as the first LGBTQ senior cohousing community in the U.S. nears completion just outside of Durham, North Carolina.
Village Hearth Cohousing is a new 28-unit development for LGBTQ, friends and allies ages 55 years and older. NCB provided a $5.65 million construction loan for the project in June 2019.
“We’re so grateful to have had NCB believe in us,” said co-founder McAulay. “We’re honored to be the first cohousing community they’ve financed. We’re especially thrilled that our LGBTQ-focused community fits NCB’s mission of cooperation and inclusion.”
McAulay credits NCB and a team of experts for guiding her, Roesch and other early believers through Village Hearth’s process. Those specialists include Kathryn McCamant, president of CoHousing Solutions, which provides development consulting services to help create sustainable neighborhoods; and Charles Durrett of McCamant and Durrett Architects, a firm that’s designed over 50 cohousing communities in the U.S.
“Without them, we likely would not have been successful,” McAulay said.
Born from a Danish concept, cohousing is an intentional community designed to reflect the close-knit neighborhoods of the past. Village Hearth founders and experts worked hand in hand to adapt the concept to a senior community featuring accessibility and “neighborly companionship while affording as much privacy as one desires,” said McAulay.
Formed in 2015, Village Hearth Cohousing broke ground in October 2019. Its seven quads each hold four, single-story cottages, clustered on one end of a 15-acre scenic woodland. The cottages, sized from 650 to 1,150 square feet, all have a large front porch and small private backyard. Village Hearth’s environmentally friendly structures, smaller-sized dwellings, smart design and shared walls will reduce energy costs.
The cottages surround a 2,600-square-foot common house. That shared space includes a large dining and meeting room, a gourmet kitchen, an office, laundry facilities, and rooms for arts, crafts and exercise. Village Hearth also features ample gardens, walking trails and a workshop.
By the time Village Hearth held its open house in February 2020, only four units remained unsold. Once the estimated 40 member-residents are in place, they’ll oversee ongoing operations through their homeowners association.
“Having the opportunity to provide the necessary capital for the construction of Village Hearth has been exciting for NCB,” said Ann Fedorchak, the bank’s director of cooperative and community development. “This cohousing community truly embodies the cooperative principles and social values we are committed to live by.”