|Re: common house as a public building||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: JoycePlath (JoycePlathaol.com)|
|Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2001 10:10:02 -0600 (MDT)|
The most public common house that I know of is my community, Marsh Commons in Arcata Ca. We began with an existing 8,000 square foot building that was way too big for a common house for twelve homes, Half of the building became rented office space when we renovated the building in 1995. This arrangement has helped significantly in making our portion of the building affordable and has enriched our lives by having an Internet provider, audio equipment repair place, and space for our community who sometimes rents office space close to home. Because we were faced with extraordinary financial burdens during the development process we started renting our common house area for three years before moving into our homes. Once we became accustomed to the extra income everyone agreed to continue encouraging community groups to rent our space. My favorite story is wandering through the common house a few years ago to do my laundry and discovering a Green Party meeting with guest speaker Winnona LaDuke. That evening I sat right down and figured I could get along without clean clothes for day. Other groups who have used our space include Earth First, the ACLU for nonviolent resistance trainings, yoga groups, the folk life festival, workshops on taking your bedroom off the grid (they build photovoltaic collectors these and installed them on a nearby home) and a Humboldt State University class that used our kitchen to can organic vegetables they had grown. Recently we have upgraded our common house furnishing from Salvation Army specials to a coordinated array matching tables and chairs, pleasant sofas and rocking chairs by the fire place, and enough plates, silverware and glasses. Since we have some members who absolutely objected to spending money on these items we managed to get consensus only after some members suggested that the upgrade would allow us to rent the common space to more upscale organizations which would pay for the $3,200 spent on furnishings. So far it is working. The balance seems to be to take care to treat our scheduled CoHousing time, dinners, singing, meetings, and soon a book discussion group as sacred times that cannot be disrupted by rentals. Because Arcata is a small rural community with a strong left of center value system, many of the organizations that rent our common house have friends with in our community. The feed back we are getting is that folks really appreciate a place to meet that feels more like a big livingroom that a utilitarian multipurpose room. Currently we are in the process of upgrading our recreation room so that we can dance on a wood floor. Previously in was still the old smelly concrete floor from the old truck shop. This project includes a wood shop with an art area loft above that will be limited to use be cohousers. When it is completed we will be doing rentals of the large 32 by32 dance and ping pong area when it is not being used by us. One of my sons has great plans for parties there when he comes home from college this summer. Again the only way that our community could get consensus to take out a loan for $15,000 to pay for this project was by understanding that we will generate at least $200 a month in rentals to pay the loan payment. Since our mortgage payment is a constant and rents will continue to rise, we assume that in a few years we will have no monthly fees for the common house. In eighteen years we will be looking at a profit of at least $3,000 a month. Current fantasies for that surplus include writing down homeowners fees, buying retreat land in the mountains where we could have an orchard and garden, and giving a portion of our profits to a teen center and other local groups promoting sustainability and social justice. Meanwhile, because our common house is a separate property with a for profit partnership ownership structure, we get significant tax benefits from depreciation and business losses every year. One more thing, by keeping the purchase of the common house separate from the purchase of homes (everyone does actually make both purchases) we can keep the purchase price of the house lower, thus allowing more families to qualify. We do not always need to tell the bank about the common house purchase until the house mortgage has gone through escrow. Joyce Plath JPlath [at] ecolodging.com 707-822-1860 _______________________________________________ Cohousing-L mailing list Cohousing-L [at] cohousing.org Unsubscribe info: http://www.communityforum.net/mailman/listinfo/cohousing-l
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