Re: will Time limit future of Cohousing
From: fmancino (
Date: Thu, 18 Jul 1996 10:55:40 -0500
> Rob asks for opinions  and comments. He writes
> >>I disagree that the group needs to be developers at all to form
> community. I think that the best route to the future is to let
> developers be developers and do that work, and have faciliated community
> building happen amoung the residents, teach and learn group process and
> decision making, do the design input work, but leave ALL the ugly legal,
> permit, etc. details to other people and focus your group energy and learning
> to be a group and building a sense of trust and community and friendship
> amoung the group.

Our group tried to interest developers in working on a cohousing
development but was also unsuccessful; I talked to realtors/developers
(guys that owned land, sold land, and developed some of them), and the 
first thing they said was, "but your problem is that your group does not
have any money, you cannot be serious";  it was not enough to tell them
about how much in lending power the group could afford, they wanted to see
evidence of a commitment, real cash money (say 50 to 100K in working
capital). This is very difficult for a
group forming, to ask people to commit serious money to a project without
knowing where it will be, what it will look like, and when it will be
built, and for some people, 5-10K of available cash is just not possible.
My perception is that location of a community does matter to people, and
means different things to different people: school districts are very
important to families with school-age kids, neighborhood security is very
important to number of people, distance to likely employment centers is
also important to many people.  What that means is that in order for
people to make a real commitment, they must have something real to relate
to, a specific location, a design concept, a schedule and cost estimate.
Most of these design professionals are better at doing than anyone but
to have them takes money, and a site. 
 Finding a developer with a site and
interest in doing cohousing is more the exception than the rule, at least
in this area.  Big-time developers dont even return your calls or letters
about your proposed development of 20-30 units, when they are working on 
plans for 400-2000 unit developments.  Most small unit developers do not
own land, and are in the same fix as you are, but at least they may have a
line of credit at a bank; they mostly are trying to maximize the build out
and profit on a property, which usually means single family homes on the
typical 10,000 sf lot.  Not many small developers build in any common
space  on those properties unless planning and zoning actions force them
to dedicate the area as greenspace due to floodplains, wetlands, etc. It
seems to me that finding the exceptional developer with the resources, 
land, and interest in cohousing would be wonderful but not something you
can bank on should you want to live in cohousing anytime soon. 
 What is worth doing is to delegate almost all development decisions to one 
or two people once a site is obtained, and a conceptual development plan
is approved by the group, and then devote as much time as possible to
community building activities.  To me, the image of a group with wonderful
process skills and no site and plan for development is not very appealing.
But I am an impatient person, preferring more the action than the words;
other temperaments may differ in their tolerance for things.

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