The dream of building a senior community in downtown Davis that meets the highest standards of green building, and living, is thriving after five years. There have been challenges, but the concept is working well, and in some cases even exceeding expectations.
Parkview Place at 4th and D Streets in Davis is a small apartment building with four units plus one rental live/work space and some shared rooms for guests, meetings and exercise. “That’s nine folks in all, as neighbors, partners, and friends, says co-owner Phil Wagner. “We share in the ownership, management, and enhancement of both the building and our community.”
Parkview Place, which overlooks Central Park and faces Davis Community Church, was the first residential building in the city to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED ) Platinum recognition. “The energy design and conservation measures work and we have achieved zero net energy,” says Don Morrill, who coordinated the LEED application.
Dick Bourne, who developed the concept along with his spouse Carol, identifies a handful of elements that mark the Parkview Place project:
—We started with four un-acquainted couples and built a strong sense of community that is ongoing.
—We have accomplished our major goals and yet continually strive for improvement.
—We have all done something in our senior years that give us lasting satisfaction.
—We have always been able to surmount differences to achieve consensus and move forward in ways acceptable to all.
There are plans to add additional TV panels inn the next year so that all residents can fuel future electric cars from Parkview Place sources, adds Bourne. And it's likely that a unique system from France will allow enhancement of the geothermal performance from the additional panels.
There was an unplanned migration to an electric car after a freeway collision, and this year may see a second vehicle conversion, and possibly a third. A charging station has been installed in the garage. Car sharing has also been discussed. “We have a plan to add additional PV panels so that all of us can fuel our future electric cars from Parkview Place,” says Dick Bourne. “A unique system developed in France will allow us to enhance our geothermal performance from the additional panels, too.”
Through one of the Bourne’s sons, Phil and Barbara Wagner learned of the opportunity to join Parkview Place. They moved from the East Coast almost two years ago. “We love walking through the Farmers Market, attending classes on campus and art lectures at the Manetti Shrem,” says Barbara Wagner. “Having all this at our toe tips, has made us feel a real part of the community.”
The residents of Parkview Place have engaged in a number of community initiatives, singly or in duos but also as a group, such as Paul’s Place—the proposed homeless resource center, use of restorative justice in law enforcement, and recent planning for growth of the downtown core.
Barbara Wagner, who is a multi-media artist, enjoys being able to visit the downtown art galleries and performance spaces, as well as the nearby Minette Shrem Museum at UC Davis.
Students at UC Davis have been regular visitors to test the performance of the systems and try out new ideas, too. ”We have enjoyed working with design teams on two projects that can further enhance the technologies demonstrated at Parkview Place,” says Dick Bourne. “One design improves the mounting and cleaning of our PV panels, and the other makes it easier to produce and install our “GeoHelix” ground heat exchanger technology.”
According to PG&E records, in the five years from full occupancy in 2014 through June of this year, Parkview Place has had a surplus averaging almost 17%. The lowest year was 2016 at 6.3% surplus and the highest was 2015 at 28.4%.
When everyone was moved in by spring of 2014, there were nine cars for four garage spaces. That quickly reduced to five vehicles as work commutes changed from up to 100 miles to two blocks.
Achieving agreement is critical to the community members, as they make all of their decisions by consensus, with a method to reach agreement included in the association’s bylaws. It’s a process that’s never been used.
“What strikes me as paramount to Parkview Place is each person’s desire to work together to create a shared idea of living; in other words, to build community,” observes gayle yamada. “This hasn’t always been easy as there are many ways in which we differ as individuals, but I think that a broadly shared vision has enabled us to work together despite differences, and to try and see other perspectives.”
“On the whole, we are aware of what is needed for us to live green” adds yamada.. “I don’t know how much everyone composts, or how all of the individuals use energy. But as long as we have an understood baseline, which we do, I believe it is up to each of us to live how they want.
There have been surprises along the way, some of them shocking. Jerry Schimke, who was the initial financial officer for the group, had a fatal heart attack while riding his bicycle a few blocks from home. His wife Kay subsequently moved to Seattle to be closer to family and passed away this spring. They had deep Davis roots, and a passion for the project. The Schimkes will always be remembered for sharing the dream.