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Co-housing option growing in NM


The duplex homes at Acequia Jardin are clustered around a common walkway. Six of the eight homes have solar systems. (COURTESY MARIANNE DICKINSON)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Co-housing, a type of living arrangement that combines all the privacy and amenities of a private home with some shared spaces, is slowly gaining ground in New Mexico.

Neither a single-family subdivision nor a condominium project, a co-housing development already is in place in Albuquerque and a  group of investors hopes to break ground soon on one in Placitas.

Acequia Jardin, located on a one-acre parcel at 2334 Rio Grande NW next to the La Montañita Co-op, will join with dozens of co-housing communities around the country April 30 to welcome visitors and prospective buyers and to spotlight the housing arrangement.

The proposed development in Sandoval County, called Placitas Sage Co-housing, will also be part of the national event.

It is expected that one home will be for sale at Acequia, with another two hitting the market soon, said Marianne Dickinson, who was part of the original group of homebuyers that built and occupied the 10 duplex-style homes in 2013.

“They are few and far between,” said Dickinson of the unique housing choice. Besides Acequia, there are co-housing options in Taos, Santa Fe and, perhaps Placitas, if the current group of 10 investors can get the OK from Sandoval County planning and zoning authorities.

Acequia Jardin has a gardening area irrigated by a traditional acequia and water collected from the carport roofs, fruit trees, a community activity room, a guest casita, and outdoor gathering spaces.

“The combination of all of this has created a lively community of helpful and caring neighbors,” said Dickinson.

She said they can be challenging projects “in terms of the development and legal aspects.” It can also be hard to find homeowners, architects, builders and funders with the skill level to execute the infill development, which Dickinson called a “pocket neighborhood.”

“We are built out,” Dickinson said of Acequia Jardin, adding the community tried to acquire an adjacent lot but that would have required a complicated easement. Most of the homeowners are Baby Boomers; just a few have mortgages since most traded down from larger homes and paid cash.

Each homeowner has a property tax bill as well as a $75 monthly assessment to meet common expenses. The homeowners have had several special assessments to add some upgrades, such as a drip irrigation system.

In Albuquerque, an updated comprehensive plan includes language that would allow for more co-housing-type developments,  said Dickinson. Not only do they offer more efficient use of land and resources, but they also offer more affordable homes, owner equity and community-based management.

The new 18 “casitas in Placitas” will be built on six acres on Forest Lane, said Jim Maduena, project builder. It will be a senior-focused community for current Placitas residents — and others — who want to age in place. Home prices will range from about $200,000 to $350,000.