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Friday, March 1: Groundbreaking Ceremony, 4:00 PM

Unique Residential Complex Will Be Completed Early 2014

Santa Cruz, California Coinciding with “First Friday” festivities in downtown Santa Cruz, Walnut Commons Cohousing will host a groundbreaking ceremony with local officials and project engineers beginning 4 p.m. March 1 at the corner of Walnut Avenue and Center Street.

The public is invited to attend. Literature and refreshments will be available. Walnut Commons members will be on hand to discuss the project and answer questions.

Held monthly, the First Friday Art Tour is a fixture of downtown Santa Cruz, featuring numerous exhibits, music and a celebratory atmosphere.

The Walnut Commons project has been cited as a leading-edge indicator for an economic turnaround in the housing market as well as the regional business climate.

“We’re thrilled to be downtown Santa Cruz’s first residential project since 2007,” said Peter Nurkse of Santa Cruz, an early member with his wife Francie. “We think Walnut Commons will contribute hugely to the overall vitality of downtown Santa Cruz, while also providing an urban centerpiece for the growing cohousing movement.”

Downtown residential living was a goal of Santa Cruz’s redevelopment efforts following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, noted Larry Pearson, local business leader and co-founder of Pacific Cookie Company.

“For the business community, it’s always nice to hear hammers hitting nails,” Pearson said. “For a community like Walnut Commons to locate here is validation of downtown as an attractive place to live, and Santa Cruz as a great place to be.”

The three-story, 19-unit condominium complex with underground parking will be built to green specifications and offer numerous amenities, including a 3,000-square-foot common area with a gourmet kitchen, dining room, entertainment center and recreational space. Six units between $400,000 and $600,000 are still available.

“Interest in this kind of housing is booming,” said Sandy Lansdale, marketing director. “We get inquiries virtually daily and expect to be sold out before the building is finished.”

The $8.7 million project recently received loan approval from Santa Cruz County Bank. Construction is expected to begin shortly, with completion and occupancy in early 2014.

The building was designed with input from residents by leading cohousing architects Charles Durrett of McCamant & Durrett Architects, Nevada City CA, and Bob Hightower of San Jose-based Barry Swenson Builder, which will head construction. Swenson also is about to begin construction of a cohousing project in Mountain View CA.

Leading the groundbreaking will be Dick and Diane Klein, who began planning a downtown cohousing project nine years ago. Klein, a retired Santa Cruz attorney and vintner, became interested in cohousing as a way to “downsize and live lighter on the planet.”

“For Dick and me, this is the fulfillment of a lifelong vision,” said Diane Klein. “We think Walnut Commons will be a vibrant contributor to Santa Cruz’s unique culture and lifestyle.”

Cohousing is a form of intentional community that operates by consensus and offers mutual support, caring and activities for its residents. Typical developments consist of individual homes or townhouses as well as a community house, and are built in suburban areas.

Walnut Commons is unique in offering a single, condo-style building and being situated squarely in an urban downtown.

“The phrase ‘Only in Santa Cruz’ comes to mind,” said Jeff Major, Santa Cruz-based project manager.

As well as a familiar, closely knit community, cohousing offers a smaller carbon footprint and more sustainable lifestyle. Walnut Commons is designed to show what life on a “smaller” planet can offer. It also has a philosophical emphasis on inclusiveness and diversity of culture, race and sexual identity.

“Research tells us that social ties are a primary factor in happiness,” said Cecile Andrews, Walnut Commons member and author of the forthcoming Living Room Revolution. “Cohousing is a growing movement around the world for creating caring and joyful community.”

Further information is available at WalnutCommons.org or by calling (831) 750-7115.

Walnut Commons can be reached at 831-854-7206.