urban cohousing sites
From: David Mandel (dlmandelrcip.com)
Date: Sat, 24 May 1997 01:00:48 -0500
In addition to Stephanie's and Diane's wise advice about finding a site for
urban infill cohousing, I'll add:

1. You are on a very good track thinking of combining rehab and new
construction. That's the nature of urban sites for the most part, so go
with what you have and be flexibly creative when it comes to site design.

2. There must be a local housing agency/redevelopment agency that is
engaged at times in buying up blighted sites and finding developers to
rebuild them. We bought our site from such an agency. Get to know the staff
people involved in such work, cultivate their support and ask to be
informed of any plans that might fit your criteria. At best, developing
this relationship can serve to encourage them to couch their request for
proposals for development of a promising site in terms that match your
goals. We were very fortunate to be able to do that.

3. At the same time, learn what they priorities and goals of such a housing
agency are, in particular with regard to a neighborhood in which you have
identified a potential site. See whether your goals can be stated in a way
that's compatible, in terms of the type of housing they seek (single vs.
multi-family, ownership vs. rental), the desired density, the desired
income mix of residents, etc. Here too, we were lucky to have a major
convergence of goals which led not only to the site but to financial
support for including low-income residents as well as market rate buyers.

4. Cultivate support of neighborhood associations in neighborhoods that
interest you. Having that support helped win victory for our proposal over
that of a competing developer once we identified the site.

5. This comes at the next stage, but an idea I heard from the Woodlawn
group in Chicago, which is doing something similar and already has a site
identified, is to seek some volunteer assistance from graduate architecture
students (assuming there is a decent department in your area) by letting
them use your plans as a project. The best way to start this would be to
find a faculty member interested in the idea. They might also get involved
in helping find a site.

6. If any important person you need to win over is skeptical about the
idea, encourage them to call, write or visit us. Borrow our slide show
again and make some copies to keep.

Good luck.

David Mandel, Southside Park, Sacramento

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