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New venture into communal living on Eighth Avenue

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Greenwood Heights just got a bit more community-minded.

The quiet, leafy neighborhood is slated to be a new home for a unique “cohousing” endeavor where residents own their own units, but share common areas and have meals together in a green, sustainable environment.

Brooklyn Cohousing founder Alex Marshall said that their new home in a converted mattress factory on Eighth Avenue and 19th Street will be the first true cohousing endeavor in the city.

His group, currently comprising 15 families, made headlines last year when they tried to purchase the former St. Michael’s Church in Fort Greene.

The deal for the church fell through when the cost of the purchase kept rising.

They purchased their new home, first reported by www.brownstowner.com, in March.

“We’re happy to have found a great new home,” said Marshall, who explained that his group has always seen the factory as a secondary option. “We love the neighborhood. This is going to be a great home for us.”

While smaller than the Fort Greene property, the mattress factory will be converted into 30 units of housing as well as a common area, guest rooms, kids room, music room, lounge, workshop and other amenities that the residents -- many of whom have a self-professed “creative and cultural bend” -- will be sharing.

But while there’s a whole lot of sharing going on, Marshal explained that Brooklyn Cohousing is not a commune.

“We will each own our own apartment, so there will be privacy,” he said. “We won’t be sharing everything.”

“Essentially it’s a more neighborly way to live,” he explained. “People living there will have the expectation of interacting more with their neighbors. We’ll have some meals together and leave our doors open.”

The first cohousing development was created in Denmark but replicated throughout Europe and the United States. Marshall first hatched his cohousing idea after reading about a similar project.

“I like having more neighbors,” he explained.

Construction is expected to begin in September, but its amicable, open spirit may already be built-in.

Community Board 7 members recall that the factory was rezoned last year after a down-right friendly, transparent exchange with the former owner of the building where apparently everyone went home happy.

While they aren’t legally bound to address CB7 unless they want to change the zoning further, Aaron Brashear, a board member and cofounder of the Concerned Citizens of Greenwood Heights, hopes that they make an appearance and explain to them what cohousing is all about.

“There’s a knee-jerk reaction that this is a hippie thing, but all they’re doing is setting up a supportive community in a single building,” Brashear said. “It’s something you don’t normally see in New York City or this country and to me it mimics the type of neighborhood I would like to see in this area.”

To learn more about Brooklyn Cohousing, one can go to their website at www.brooklyncohousing.org.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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