Re: self development vs developer driven vs finding developer
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2007 09:07:13 -0700 (PDT)

On Jul 27, 2007, at 11:21 AM, Tom Hammer wrote:

We are very curious and could use advice about our situation: could someone clarify "developer driven" cohousing vs a group forming, finding land, and then "courting" a developer?

There are no standard definitions of these words but I think most people use them to make a distinction between a project that is initiated by a developer who then sells the units to members of a group and one that is initiated by a group who partners with a developer on their own initiative.

But in reality, these are extreme definitions -- its a bit like trying to define cohousing. Certainly a developer who built a building and sold units to individuals with the expectation that they would form a cohousing community after move-in would be developer- driven and I don't think anyone thinks that would work.

Takoma Village was started by developer in one sense because he had the option on land he thought would be good for cohousing and actively sought out Ann Zabaldo who was then involved with the forming Liberty Village. He hired her to form the community. In this sense the community could be called developer driven.

But from the first meeting, I think the group made all the decisions that any group would make. We just had to make them faster since the land was being paid for and the buildings were ready to be designed. The developer paid Ann's salary but had no interest in any other group decisions unless they affected costs. We couldn't decide to put in blue bathtubs, for example, without raising prices. Ann handled marketing and outreach, but otherwise the group functioned on its own.

After working with a self-developing group and a group with a developer, I can't see much difference in the formation of the group except that it is MUCH easier to attract members to a project when they have a time schedule for building. A developer has a much better sense of that, particularly if the land has been secured, because a developer knows time is money and he enforces the schedule as much as can be done in construction.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing
Washington DC

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