|Old Oakland Cohousing in the News||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Raines Cohen (coho-Lraines.com)|
|Date: Thu, 26 Aug 1999 06:57:44 -0600 (MDT)|
In light of the recent discussion on community, I thought I'd share this cover story on Old Oakland Cohousing at Swan's Market from the recent (Volume 1, No. 12 (8/18-31)) issue of "Urban View", a community bi-weekly newspaper serving Oakland, California. The reporter looked at some issues covering more than just the Cohousing part of the project, mixed up a few things but got the sentiment largely right, however. cover story: Housing Relief; Swan's Brings Cohousing and Mixed Use to a Neighborhood Near You. cover photo: Joani Blank in front of Swans Market sign [occupies whole page!] [no, they don't have it (or anything yet, really) on their website at www.urbanview.com ] Highlights: - Letter from Editor & Publisher: "There are some words that can turn just about anyone into a cynic. The term 'community' has been tossed about to the point where it is rapidly approaching meaninglessness. However, to restore our faith in the concept, we set out to find some tangible examples of 'community' taking place in Oakland. "There are two major categories of community. First, community that is based on deliberate structural and geographic planning. And we've got it right here in Old Oakland. ... the Swan's cohousing project, which will combine services, housing, retail and art. In other words, the elements that make a neighborhood cohesive and functional. [a 2d article looks at the East Bay Pride/Stonewall 30 celebration] "Combined, these two separate projects are helping to mend the broken idea of community -- and may even save it from trivialization." The article: Housing Relief: Coming Soon to a Neighborhood Near You Swan's Market: A Neighborhood by Paris Morgan Lead: "The current development of Swan's Marketplace that began in May of 1998 is due to finish, in parts, from November of this year into next summer. "In this, it's latest incarnation, Swan's takes on the elegance of its name and becomes, adt once, many different things to many different people. A historically preserved central-city complex of restaurants, shops and housing, Swan's is designed to honor the city's past while propelling it, bravely, into the future. Specifically, Swan's will house the Historic Old Oakland Housewives Market and the Museum of Children's Art (MOChA), three new restaurants, a deli and a bakery. It will offer affordable housing in the form of 18 one- and two-bedroom apartments and four apartments for families living with AIDS. "It will also be home to a cohousing project, consisting of 20 fully-equipped conodminiums and a common house, in which the buyers have invested in the building's development in exchange for involvement in design and amenities. Swan's provides a case study in cohousing courtship, as well as a philosophical petri dish for a word that is circumscribed to the point of near-irrelevance: "community." "In its first life, the buidling, located on the block of 9th, 10th, Washington and Clay Streets was home ot the 10th Street Market and the Oakland Free Market. It was originally built under the 1917 proprietorship of Jacob Pantosky, who, at various points in his career, called himself a "poultry merchant, broker, speculator, junk dealer, shoe merchant and hotel manager." [...] "The concept of cohousing... has scrambled this last notion of neighbors into a "which came came first, the chicken or the egg?" conundrum. The idea behind cohousing is not that the neighbors are defined by the neighborhood, but that the neighborhood is defined by --and for-- the neighbors. "'Cohousing,' according to Joani Blank, an owner [whoops! technically a little bit ahead of herself; we're investors and members and have units reserved but won't be able to complete our unit purchases 'til December] of one of the Swan's condos, "is a form of collaborative housing which tries to maximize a sense of community between the households who live there, but provides plenty of privacy at the same time." Typically cohousing groups share several meals a week in their common space, such as a dining room or garden, and take turns cooking meals and caring for their property--and their neighbors. "There are roughly 41 such colonies in the United States and 4 in Canada. They are found, in more concentrated numbers, in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, in Seattle, Washingtgton, in the Boulder-Denver area of Colorado, in Massachusetts, and in Northern California. In Oakland, there are two others: Temescal Cohousing and Temescal Creek (soon to be renamed). [... description of Swan's physical setup....] "in all, 3,600 square feet of community space. "Roy Schweyer, Director of Housing and Community Development for the City, explains the focus on common space: "So that there's an expecation that it will be a community that will share more than just the entrance to the building -- but a common space, and will build a community effort." [it sounds like he's talking about the shared courtyard with the affordable housing, retail, etc., not the common house within cohousing] [history: Joshua Simon, the project manager for the East Bay Asian Local Development Coalition, our nonprofit developer, studied architecture at Berkeley with Katherine McCamant of the Cohousing Company! I didn't know that] [skipping several interesting paragraphs of OOCOHO history and early group process, recruiting techniques] "Mary Marx, Executive Director at MOChA, says, "We are very excited to work with the cohousing people and we've already had discussions with them about sharing technology resources. We have looked at something like creating a co-op kiln and a co-op laundry facility and other things that we wouldn't be able to put into our won space, so that there might be a space..." that is shared. [we've talked about a shared internet (DSL or similar) connection but the other stuff is news to me] "It remains to be seen if this spirit will appeal to the affordable housing tenants and the families with AIDS. [history of mailbox problem omitted... we tried to have lots of design features, like co-located mailboxes, to increase our interaction with the affordable-housing rental residents, but it turned out not to be possible... high construction costs and the complexity of the project precluded some other options] "The cohousing rewsidents at Swan's were drawn to downtown Oakland because they wanted a socio-economically and culturally diverse urban setting. So, while it really depents on what interaction the other tentants of Swan's want to have with them, they are certainly open to excahgne. Their [actually, Joani's] bumper sticker says they are willing to take a philosophical stake in more than just one city block: "Cohousing: Building a Better Society One Neighborhood at a Time." Raines Cohen <coho-L [at] raines.com> <http://www.swansway.com> Member, Old Oakland [CA] Cohousing at Swan's Market [& East Bay Coho] Where we just got to visit our units-to-be: cement slab is poured, lead paint is abated, rough plumbing is in, walls are being framed out!
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