“We had one year of traveling under our belt before landing in Vancouver,” says Condon. “There, we stumbled upon a cohousing lecture given by Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett, the couple that brought the cohousing concept from Denmark to the U.S. They’ve written several books on the subject.”
Continuing on with their travels, Condon and Aulicino, now in their mid-60s, ended up visiting 15 cohousing communities in six different states, plus British Columbia.
“We emerged themselves in this newfound passion of ours,” says Condon. “Stefania would set up appointments with cohousing members. We visited a brand new, four-story, urban cohousing community in North Carolina, and were so impressed with what we saw, we knew this lifestyle was for us.”
No longer wanting to deal with cold winters, they made several trips to San Diego before they decided that the city had everything they wanted – except a cohousing community.
They moved to Point Loma in 2016 and with dogged determination, and backgrounds in civil engineering and investment banking, they got to work researching real estate land costs and going forward creating San Diego Urban CoHousing – San Diego’s only cohousing community.
“When starting a new community,” adds Aulicino, “you have to have the visionaries; at least one burning soul who is determined to make it happen. That person happens to be me.”
Condon and Aulicino are designing a 25-unit, self-managed, environmentally sustainable, adult community in the Point Loma area, close to bus lines, shopping and restaurants. Since they chose to be car-free, walkability and close bus lines are key factors.
Residents will have their own private condos and jointly own and maintain all common spaces, including a common house/kitchen where they can share meals several times a week.
“Stefania is a great networker and strategic thinker,” says Condon. “With a background as a Wall Street investment banker and financial advisor, she understands how to network, organize and educate.”
Realizing that creating a cohousing community in San Diego requires the necessary legwork, they’ve met with local developers, city planners, architects – even UC San Diego’s urban planning students who have adopted their project as a class assignment. The two have also given talks at the local venues, and continue to host monthly potlucks.
Says Aulicino: “Once we have enough paid members to reach $10,000, we can hire a consultant knowledgeable with cohousing development. From getting control of the piece of property to moving in can be about a two-year process, as long as the project keeps moving forward.”
They estimate that pricing will start at $360,000 for a one-bedroom condo, current with the San Diego market rate.
“The most challenging part of this project is building a community,” says Condon. “We’ve had many fits and starts, from larger paid-in groups to members dropping out for various reasons. We are focusing on where we want to end up; how we get there depends on a number of factors. San Diego wants greater density and we will be meeting that need. We only need to attract the people who want this cohousing community as much as we do.”
For more information, email: [email protected] or visit www.ic.org/directory/san-diego-urban-cohousing.