Wake Cohousing (beginnings)
Two of our founding members, Craig and Stan, have shared an interest in cohousing for a number of years. In 2019, Craig invited members of his church to an informational meeting where Wake Cohousing was born. A few people were immediately interested, a few liked the idea but liked their current home more and few weren’t interested. Over the next 2 years the group met, a few joined, a few dropped out and the group searched in vain for property near downtown Raleigh.
As the group’s commitment grew an LLC was formed, members were asked for a financial commitment of $2500 and we expanded our search area. Still unable to find land and seeing the price and competition for land exponentially escalate in 2021, we disbanded the LLC and started looking for an alternative way to live in community.
As a total surprise to all of us, within a month of disbanding the LLC we stumbled on Acorn Creek, 19 acres of beautifully wooded land with 2 houses in March 2021. Acorn Creek is surrounded by Wendell Falls, a huge new subdivision. The Wendell Falls developer tried to buy Acorn Creek but the owner refused, not wanting his property to become a sprawling subdivision.
It appeared Acorn Creek could support about 12 homes (including the 2 already there). This was less than the 20-30 the group originally envisioned. 12 units wasn’t enough to support a common house, nor was there room for one. (But Craig & Brenda’s home is wonderfully suited for many of the functions normally sought in a common house, so many/most of our community gatherings will be held there.) However, the property met all our other needs – it was beautiful, included a pond and despite the growing sprawl in every direction, it feels secluded. It is buffered on all sides by electric and sewer easements or creeks and wetlands. The proximity to development provides access to the utilities we need to subdivide the property and support 12 homes. It also means we will have the convenience of a supermarket, restaurants and other stores within walking distance (about a mile).
With our LLC disbanded and a need to act immediately Craig and Brenda took the plunge, selling their Raleigh home and buying Acorn Creek, moving there in late May 2021. Over the past year we have engaged an engineering firm (to design the subdivision), the Town of Wendell (to annex and file the subdivision and Raleigh/Wake County (for water and sewer hook up). With no LLC and wanting to move as quickly as possible (real estate development is the opposite of fast) Craig & Brenda also stepped up to front the costs associated with filing the subdivision.
Are there any age or other restrictions?
All ages and household arrangements are welcome. Currently the group consists of households are in their mid-50’s to late-60’s and is made up of couples and singles.
What’s the property like?
The property is 19 acres including a pond. Most of the area is currently wooded but there will be some clearing to allow for construction. About 15 acres will remain undeveloped because of easements and other wetland restrictions. The site is adjacent to a school and a large and growing community (Wendell Falls) but there are buffers between our site and both. The site is easy access to Raleigh (~20 minutes). There are plans for a large new county park near the site and a satellite campus of Wake Medical Center is in the works. In December 2021 a Publix opened just a 3-minute drive away as well as Treelight Square, a small shopping area that will open early 2023.
There will be trails, gardens, green space for the community but not a dedicated common house per se. The existing house on the property is ideally suited to accommodate community meals, events, celebrations, etc. It will also serve as the home of one of our members.
We are fortunate to have a retired city planner in our group to engage with the engineering firm and planning departments. It’s taken a year of negotiation with town staff but our subdivision application is ready. On June 20, 2022, we went before the Planning Board and received a unanimous recommendation for approval to the Town Commissioners in Wendell. The public hearing at the Commissioners’ level for the rezoning and subdivision approval took place on August 22, 2022. They approved the rezoning request. We are now in the process of review of construction plans submittals to the Town of Wendell and Wake County for the subdivision roads and utilities. It is anticipated that work on this infrastructure would commence in roughly 4 months, and take approximately 6 months to complete. At that point lots would be recorded and home construction on those individual lots could commence. We expect that most members will be moving into their respective homes in the spring of 2024. Our timeline helps better explain past & future milestones.
An HOA is needed to own and maintain the common property. Buying a home site will require becoming a member of the HOA and agreeing to the associated covenants. The HOA document, covenants and bylaws are being drafted and reviewed by a lawyer. They will be available before the sale of home sites.
Roads, Utilities and Home Sites
As noted above, once the preliminary plan is approved by the Town Commissioners (8/22) we begin the process of review and approval of construction plans for roads and utilities. This is anticipated to take 4-6 months. We then anticipate about 6-8 months of construction to get to build-ready sites. At that point roads will be drivable, utilities in place and home sites ready for construction.
Since we no longer have an LLC, Craig & Brenda own the property and we want to develop the property quickly with minimal bureaucracy. Craig has offered to act as the developer. In order to fund the development once the subdivision is filled, Craig & Brenda will sell lots to members. The sales contract will include a commitment to complete construction and deliver build-ready lots.
The “lot cost” for each property ranges from $3k to $18k. The major “lot” expense for the members of Acorn Creek Community will be 1/10th of the total development costs (now estimated to be ~$1.5 million.) This estimate includes a 30% construction contingency.
|Type of lot||Lot Cost||Approx. Share of Development costs||Total|
We have worked hard with our engineering firm to anticipate and estimate construction costs plus a generous buffer for contingencies. If construction costs are lower than budgeted the excess funds will be transferred to the HOA. If construction costs exceed the budget the HOA will be required to reimburse the developer (Craig) for any additional costs. This would entail a mandatory capital contribution to the HOA by members (i.e. anyone purchasing a lot).
What will be ongoing costs after construction?
The community will share the costs of upkeep of the roads, pond, and other systems. With preliminary information, we expect monthly HOA dues of ~$50/month.
Buying a home site
October 2022 update. 2 lots – #2 (discount) and #8 (premium) are currently available.
Once the subdivision is filed home sites will be available for purchase. At this time Craig & Brenda (as the developers) will schedule closings.The proceeds of these sales will be used to cover the costs of construction. As mentioned above the sales contract will cover the purchase of a build-ready lot and the completion of roads, utilities and all improvements to the common area such as drainage and lighting. The sales contract will offer two purchase options – payment in full or installments. Members wanting to take out a building loan may desire to pay the full amount at the time of purchase. Others may prefer 3 installments spread over the first half of 2023.