Re: architects and developers
From: Diane Simpson (
Date: Sat, 22 Nov 2003 07:37:07 -0700 (MST)

Hi Karin,

I agree with Sharon's comment. And taking a cursory glance at your initial plans, I would say you would need to hire a developer first. It doesn't look like your program is going to work (unless your group is incredibly wealthy or you're getting a lot of money from grants.)

Underground parking is very, very expensive--$10,000-$20,000 per parking space. You're only building 18 units so you don't have very many units to spread the costs over. Plus, you're building all small units with no large units to help offset the costs of those small units. That means you're going to have a bunch of very small, very expensive units. And you're going to make five of the units permanently affordable? Is the land trust going to buy them?

There isn't one cookie-cutter development plan that works for everyone. It takes a lot of planning, organizing, and hard work. That's why you're probably not getting the answers you seek. Who can really say what will work in your situation?

The reason I said to hire the lawyer first in my initial message was because a good real estate attorney can help cut to the chase and clarify an agreement. Who is doing what and for what compensation? How many meetings are involved? Who has the right to decide what? How do you mediate a disagreement? These are things that need clarification at the outset. And these are the things you will have to straighten out if you hope to bring a developer on board. And it sounds to me like you need a developer before you need an architect, because you need to make sure your budget is going to work before you get too far into those architectural plans.

In my opinion a local developer is always better if you can get one. You want someone who knows the specific local conditions and can trot down to city hall at the drop of a hat to answer questions.

I saw a poster on the wall the other say that said "When you get down to the root of the word 'success' it simply means 'to follow through.' Good luck with your project --with good follow-through you will succeed in time.

--Diane Simpson
JP COHOUSING  617-524-6614
"The people who surround you define the quality of your life."

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On Fri Nov 21, 2003  2:27:35 PM US/Eastern Sharon Villines wote:

All a cohousing community is doing is putting them together in a particular way, all at once -- building everything from scratch intentionally. If you can find some Bisquick to help you get the biscuits baked -- use it!

At 02:59 PM 11/17/03, Karin Landsberg wrote:

I appreciate all the feedback from my questions. Here's a bit more information:

Dearborn Commons Cohousing is in Seattle. We had an option on a site, however it has expired (long complicated mess involving a developer that wanted out of the project). The city intends to issue an RFP for both "our" site and a larger parcel across the street on December 1st. Proposals will be due January 15.

We have preliminary plans for an 18 unit building on the site. Condo style building, underground parking, with the common house and a wheel chair accessible unit also on the ground level, then two floors of units above as two towers with a common terrace in between. The units are studio, one, and two bedrooms.

We are working with a local non-profit land trust to make five of the units permanently affordable.

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