Re: defining developer driven
From: Luk Jonckheere (
Date: Fri, 9 Feb 2007 22:10:05 -0800 (PST)

In my opinion the question is not to work with a developer or not to. But to
choose the developer carefuly.

In his book 'Senior Cohousing' Durrett tells the story of the failure of a
cohousing project (Mariendalsvej in Copenhagen, Denmark).
To him the causes of misfire in this particular case were :
A. lack of knowledge and understanding about cohousing in the developers
B. the problems in the balance of partnership between the resident group and
the professionals in 3 ways
1. cost control : the core resident group didn't keep control, the developer
didn't study the market of potential buyers for a specific cohousing project
2. original intent : the company started selling out to anybody, the core
group didn't have a position strong enough to maintain the filter of
participation process and / or selection
3. the project was started too quickly and without the company having done
its homework about feasibility

This confirms my belief that we don't just need any developer but indeed
real 'cohousing sherpa's'.

In my country there aren't. Giving the project in the hands of a developer
here would mean loosing control and ending up with a condominium instead of
a cohousing. So we manage doing our own development. Luckily we found an
architect who rapidly understood the idea of cohousing and a great attorney
to help us through the legal processes. In the group there are a few people
experienced in group processes.

But even with these resources, it's been a long and tough struggle to get
where we are now, which is halfway (site aquired, plans finished, building
permit in sight, 60% sold, a good group culture built for social interaction
and work on the project). If there was a cohousing developer around we would
hire him for advice and/or taking over the development. But we have no
choice here.

On the other hand, I don't regret the journey we did until now. I learned a
lot about cohousing, building, groups, and about myself. Our core group is
polished and strong by the difficult times we got through and by the
wonderfull moments we shared.
Not everybody likes to climb the mountain by foot (and in our case without
sherpa's) even if it is a great experience. Those who prefer to take the
little mountain train are now the associate members to our group.

Kind regards,
Luk Jonckheere
Cohousing 'La Grande Cense', Belgium

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