Re: the concept of cohousing v. actual cohousing
From: Kristen Simmons (simmonskristengmail.com)
Date: Thu, 11 Feb 2010 13:16:08 -0800 (PST)
Anne,

Thanks for asking. We are creating cohousing in Boston, Massachusetts,
and it’s a great time to get involved in the project! :-)

We are Stony Brook Cohousing (SBC), in Boston, MA. We have an option
on an old church, known as Blessed Sacrament, in the Jamaica Plain
neighborhood of Boston. We are in the early phases of design and cost
estimating, but we anticipate that the community will have between
30-37 flats and lofts, ranging in size from studio to 3-bedroom. Four
of the homes will be deed-restricted affordable , the remainder will
be market rate. The building is already permitted for 37 homes, which
saves both time and money.

In addition to the typical common spaces for the cohousing group,
there will also be community space (with a separate entrance) that can
be used by the larger Jamaica Plain community. This is a requirement
of the local planning agency. We are excited about the potential to
connect with the larger community, especially since another group will
be managing all aspects of the space, including finances and liability
issues.

We are working in partnership with Jon Rudzinski, who founded
Rees-Larkin Development in 2008. Jon has extensive experience in
affordable and mixed-income development. While a Senior Vice President
at Winn Development, he was directly responsible for the successful
completion 20 housing developments, totaling over 3,000 units.

The group had initially worked with another developer with cohousing
experience. Although that relationship did not work out, SBC felt that
the benefits of working with an experienced housing developer were
enormous. So, the group went out to find a developer who might share
our goals and who would be willing to share some risk with the group.
SBC was fortunate to find several developers who were interested in
working with the group, and we were able to choose to work with Jon.

SBC is in a due diligence period right now, for the duration of the
option. SBC’s architect is completing the initial schematic design
work, so that cost estimates can be obtained. We also need to increase
the number of equity member households during this period.

If the cost estimates come in on target and the group gets a few more
equity households, then the project will move forward rapidly!!!!
Since the site is already permitted, construction could begin at the
end of this year, and residents move in could happen in late fall
2011. It only took four years to get to this point. ;-)

One challenge is that some people who want to move forward struggle
with the current economy and future economic unknowns. Any suggestions
for potential equity members in the situation? Or professionals the
group should seek out for their suggestions and/or information? This
is not an uncommon situation:

-Folks who currently own homes will need to sell them to move in. They
might also have planned to use home equity loans to make a down
payment. Their property may have gone down in value, and the housing
market is not good. Basically, they have assets, but nothing is
liquid.

How are other communities dealing with these things? How did the early
cohousing communities in the 90’s make it through and get enough
members to make the project work?

Sorry for such a long response! Anyone who’s interested can email me
or call me at the number below.

Thanks,

Kristen
617-549-0332
www.stonybrookcohousing.org

PS: We’re in a big push to update our website and begin getting the
word out. Look for more to come!

<snip>
I hear you. It must be very frustrating wondering what to do to help
move your community forward. What community are you with? Where are
you located? Are you working w/ professionals? W/ a developer? What
stage exactly are you in? Have you actually broken ground? Some
specifics on your situation ... and as Sharon says ... a specific
question or two will help us help you!

Looking forward to hearing more from you about your community, Kristen.

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