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Antioch College seeks input on campus homes

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Organizers of the Antioch College Village Charrette hope that many villagers participate in the opening event of the five-day process this Sunday, March 1, 6–9 p.m. in the South Gym in the Wellness Center.

“We want anyone who is interested in the future of the community and the college to join us,” Sandy Wiggins, the planning consultant overseeing the project, said last week.

The charrette is the first step toward moving ahead with the Antioch College Village, a proposed multigenerational residential project on the college campus. Organizers have described the project as a minimum of 160 units of mixed housing models, including rentals, town houses and perhaps some co-housing, located at various locations on campus. The project will be unique in the country due to its location directly on campus and also for incorporating into the units the highest standards of green design and construction, Wiggins said.

The Sunday event will be led by representatives of the design firm Dover Kohl, of Coral Gables, Fla.. The event is a hands-on, collaborative design activity during which participants will break into small groups to offer their ideas and preferences for the project, as well as look at possible locations, Participants might be asked to weigh in regarding their priorities for the project, the best ways to incorporate walkability or bikeability, or how to incorporate both shared and private facilities, among other possible topics.

“This is the beginning of the project, and we’ll be brainstorming about what’s important to people and how this project can benefit not just the college but the community,” Dover Kohl planner Amy Groves said this week.

Light finger food will be provided during the Sunday design session.

Following the Sunday event, the designers will hold an open design studio in the South Gym from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day Monday, March 2 through Thursday, March 5, during which villagers are invited to drop in and make comments in a more informal way. On Tuesday evening, March 3, from 6 to 8 p.m., organizers will host an open house for villagers to see the work done to that point. And on Thursday, March 5, from 6 to 8 p.m., the designers will present their work from the week, with opportunity for feedback.

The purpose of the five-day charrette is to create a plan for the project, Wiggins previously said. And according to College Vice President for Finance and Operations Andi Adkins in a recent article, the design plan will next be presented to the Antioch College Board of Trustees, who will decide whether the project will move ahead.

If it does, the addition of 160 new housing units on campus will be a substantial change to the village, Wiggins said.

“This is potentially a big development for Yellow Springs,” he said.

Villagers interested

Some villagers have already expressed their interest in the housing project. After Pat Brown wrote a letter to the editor for the News several months ago seeking others interested in co-housing, a group of about 12 has met, and has also met with Wiggins. Most are interested in downsizing and some aspects of living in a community, Brown said.

“My house is too big,” said Brown. But she’s very interested in living in a smaller space on campus, because “a college is always a seat of learning and new ideas. I’d like to be in touch with people like that.”

The college project also interests Brown because of the presence of the Antioch Farm. An avid gardener, Brown has discovered that maintaining her own large garden is too much, but she’d love to keep gardening.

“Then I don’t have to be responsible for the whole thing,” she said.

Another villager nterested in the Antioch College Village is Maggie Morrison, who hopes to see a co-housing component to the project. Co-housing allows people to benefit from both a private living space and areas for engagement with a community, a situation she has seen work well for her sister-in-law in California.

And Morrison is also attracted to the prospect of being a part of campus.

“I love the idea of being involved with Antioch,” she said. “I love the energy and vitality of young people.”

A new kind of housing

In a previous interview, Antioch College President Mark Roosevelt said he initially envisioned the housing as meeting the needs of a new niche market: those Baby Boomers who want to downsize but also want to be engaged in, and useful to the community. Living on campus and potentially being involved in college classes and activities could meet that market’s needs, and could also help the college become more financially sustainable, Roosevelt said.

However, a 10-month feasibility study showed that other age groups also showed interest in the Village, according to Wiggins, so the vision has been broadened to become a multigenerational project.

What makes the Antioch College Village unique will be its location directly on a college campus, rather than tangential to campus, as with housing projects at other colleges. And the project aims to use the Living Community Challenge standards for its design and construction, which requires the most stringent standards of environmental sustainability, according to Wiggins, a principal in the green planning firm Consilience and former chair of the U.S. Green Building Council. Specifically, these standards require that the units produce all their own energy, are nontoxic, and source building materials from as close as possible to the construction site.

While many variables of the Antioch College Village are unknown at this point, it’s clear that the project, if it moves ahead, will be significant to Yellow Springs, Wiggins said. More housing means more people moving to town and more economic development, among other benefits to the village. So he hopes villagers respond to the college’s invitation to this week’s planning event.

“The object is to create a community of lifelong learners connected to the resources of the college,” he said.

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