Re: the concept of cohousing v. actual cohousing
From: Kristen Simmons (simmonskristengmail.com)
Date: Thu, 11 Feb 2010 12:34:03 -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 (www.mostue.com) 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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