DURHAM, N.C. — Village Hearth Cohousing held their groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 29 for its new cohousing community with about 50 guests, organizers shared.

The project received unanimous recommendation from the city’s planning commission, and approval from the Durham City Council plus the required rezoning and annexation for the community in 2017.

The ceremony took place at the cohousing site, 1000 Infinity Rd., where future residents broke ground on the site of the development. Durham Mayor Pro Tempore, Jillian Johnson, offered a greeting and congratulations on behalf of the city.

Village Hearth Cohousing groundbreaking participants

Featured speakers included city officials, professionals involved in the project, as well as community members.

After the groundbreaking, which included a dedication of the land, attendees gathered for refreshments.

Village Hearth is located 20-minutes from downtown Durham. When completed it will become a “lively and supportive 55+ community of gays, lesbians, straight friends, and allies.

Village Hearth Cohousing co-founder Pat McAulay (right) and Margaret Roesch speak to attendees during the groundbreaking celebration.

Co-founder Pat McAulay said, “It took many of us a lot of time to come out; many LGBTs wind up going back into the closet to safely get the care they need as they age. We want to be able to live comfortably, without having to hide any aspect of ourselves.” Village Hearth is the first LGBTQ-focused ages 55 plus cohousing community in the U.S.

Village Hearth has attracted future residents from across North Carolina and from several other states including California, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, Maine, Kentucky and Texas.

It’s all smiles during the Village Hearth Cohousing groundbreaking ceremony.

Gary Ross-Reynolds, from Asheville, N.C., shared, “My partner Steve and I joined because we were impressed by the people we will be living among, the prospect of aging in place (…the fact that we are pretty isolated here in Asheville), and by the efficiency of the Village Hearth meetings. We were pleased that the architectural team and consultant hired for this project are nationally recognized for their cohousing expertise.”

The project represents a culmination of more than three years of planning. Village Hearth hired Katie McCamant, CoHousing Solutions and Chuck Durrett, McCamant & Durrett Architects. Other partners shepherding the project include Louis Goetz, Park City Developments; Dan Jewell, Coulter Jewell Thames; and Kim Vrana, Resolute Building Company.

The group will build 28 accessible, single-story, attached, environmentally-friendly homes, clustered on one end of 15 wooded acres, creating a pedestrian-friendly village for residents. Floor plans include one- and two-bedroom homes, ranging from 650 to 1,150 square feet, each with a fully equipped kitchen, living, and dining area in a vaulted ceiling great room. The development also includes a centrally-located clubhouse and other shared amenities. Construction is expected to begin in November with an anticipated move-in date in late 2019. Twenty-four of the 28 homes are already spoken for.

info: villagehearthcohousing.com. cohousing.org.

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.