The dark days before a site
From: Tonka444 (Tonka444aol.com)
Date: Sat, 30 Dec 2000 10:11:58 -0700 (MST)
  
 
 
  
Hello--

It has been over a year now since Greater Hartford Cohousing landed a 
positive front page story on our group and quickly formed into an 11 
household core group.  As the founder, I was ecstatic.

With the guidance of two hired consultants who have collectively built two 
communities in western Mass., (and live in cohousing) our core group agreed
to pay $200 a month to build equity toward site acquisition and consultant 
fees of $10,000.  That started 8 months ago.  It amazed and inspired me that
complete strangers would throw money into the void hoping for a community in 
the future.

Another high was that Konover Development Company (a big developer in our 
area) came to our meeting expressing interest in our plans and acknowledging
that they see cohousing as a significant trend for the future of 
developments. They negotiated with our consultants for a couple of 
months...but in the end, our group did not meet the "profit profile" of
Konover.  (Too much work for them with too little money in their pockets). 
Since then there have been many meetings with our consultants and other 
interested developers, dead ends on land sites, etc.

The only site found so far was a 40 acre parcel in a fairly conservative town
in central Connecticut.  It was extremely close to the airport with flight 
path concerns as well as a gun club 1/2 mile away (what luck!).  It was zoned
for exactly what we needed and could have been a go but the group was not 
excited about it.  If our ten was not into it, I felt marketing that site
would be hard.

This rollercoaster ride has recently left our group feeling discouraged and I 
anticipate maybe a household or two bailing out on the $200 a month if
nothing solidifies in the near future.  Our consultants have committed to 
devoting one day a week through February searching for a suitable site.

Connecticut has a highly educated workforce with many top notch colleges, but 
it does not have that progressive appeal of Burlington, western Mass,
Boulder, etc. to attract our core group to one small city...so our towns we 
have reached consensus on are our top TEN picks.  I think not having a magnet
town like those listed above has hurt us.

I am amazed at how groups are able to find 3 acres in a "hot" town with the 
proper zoning, etc.  I was also green with envy of the recent Burlington,
Vermont site acquisition along with others I see.  Cambridge?  Two cohousing
groups?  How in the world do they find these sites?

If anyone knows of a progressive developer, interested in a Connecticut
development that might include a new urbanist design of shops, office space
and cohousing (could we PLEASE clone Jim Leach?) please contact me.

Also, any inspiring stories of the dark times right before site acquisition
might help our group and others in this difficult stage.

Thanks to this wonderful group who have consistently supported our efforts.

Shelly DeMeo
Greater Hartford Cohousing

 
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