RE: Commercial Spaces included in Cohousing Footprint
From: Eris Weaver (
Date: Sat, 14 Jan 2006 08:35:42 -0800 (PST)
Lew Powell wrote:
> Eugene Downtown Cohousing in Eugene, OR is an urban development soon 
> (hopefully) to begin construction. It will be a three story 
> flat/townhouse complex on 
> a quarter city block. The street side of the ground floor 
> will include several 
> spaces that the developer hopes to sell, rather than lease, 
> as commercial spaces 

To which Sharon Villines replied:

> Why sell them? They could provide income for the community and if you 
> own them, you can lease them to organizations that you would like to 
> have in your building. Having these spaces to provide income would 
> seemingly help you get construction loans,etc.

Eris here, from FrogSong in Cotati, California.

Our community includes a 7000-square foot commercial building with eight
housing units above. We had never set out to include this as part of our
project but had to do so to comply with our town's downtown general
plan. We went round and round for months about how to handle ownership
of this space! We considered selling it like Eugene is considering; pros
included not having to manage it or assume the financial risk, while the
main drawback was losing control of a space that was attached to our
housing units. 

We ended up keeping it. We have a separate LLC set up that official owns
the business. We pay one of our members to manage the business. All
eight bays are leased out. We have fairly restrictive guidelines about
what businesses we will accept as tenants, hours of operation, etc.  The
current mix includes a coffee shop, a Mexican bakery, a hair salon, a
copy shop, an art gallery, and a furniture/antique shop. One of the
spaces is leased by the green energy consulting business of one of our
members, who divides the space and subleases to two other members. They
have the best commute in the world!

The commercial space is the 31st member of our HOA, but it is
represented by one of our members, NOT the tenants. We moved in two
years ago. This past year we saw our first tiny profit, which is
projected to increase this year. We put any profit back into our HOA
operating budget; this will eventually, hopefully have the effect of
decreasing HOA dues.

So it has turned out well. Of course the economy could tank, we could
have tenants move out and not find new ones, etc. etc....but we are in
California, in the Bay Area, and so far the benefits have seemed to
outweigh the risks.

Eris Weaver                 erisw [at]
FrogSong, Cotati, CA

"The cure for anything is saltwater -
sweat, tears, or the sea."  
                        - Isak Dinesen 

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