Re: Real Estate Development & Owner Occupied Developments
From: CJ Q (
Date: Tue, 3 Aug 2021 10:57:28 -0700 (PDT)
Sharon, this is so interesting. Will you put this in a blog post?  So much

I remember finding it strange in Europe that some people lived in upscale
hotels but I hear many people are living in hotels since they are cheaper
than retirement communities - that's now here in the US.

Thanks for sharing it all!

On Tue, Aug 3, 2021 at 1:13 PM Sharon Villines via Cohousing-L <
cohousing-l [at]> wrote:

> > On Aug 1, 2021, at 8:12 AM, Ty Albright via Cohousing-L <
> cohousing-l [at]> wrote:
> >
> > Real estate development is a complicated highly risky venture.Costs
> increase when mistakes are made - a professional can help you avoid
> mistakes.It’s been my experience that people don’t want to pay for a real
> estate professional - the thinking is that a group of smart people can
> figure it out - which they can .... as they bungle through making mistakes
> that could have been avoided with the benefit of experience.
> Just read a book that was initially exciting (if a book on real estate can
> be exciting) and then sort of depressing. “High Life: Condo Living in the
> Suburban Century”  by Matthew Gordon Lasne discussing the history of
> owner-occupied multi-household dwellings int the US. 200+ years of real
> estate strategies and failures.  The largest number of communities and
> legal structures peaked in the 1920s.
> I didn’t know that families lived in hotels. A strange concept but from
> the early 1800s on they did. One reason for eliminating the large lobby in
> condos was to avoid the social life that women played out there. A daily
> parade of finery and friends and gossip.
> All the things we talk about as struggles in cohousing were struggles then
> — not just the usual risk of building something not knowing if anyone wants
> it, but also:
> 1. Negative perceptions of shared anything
> 2. Financial interdependence with strangers
> 3. People only willing to commit after it is built and proven successful
> 4. Difficulty with financing — had to presell from 35-70% of units
> 5. Poor self-governance — board treated like a landlord.
> The stories of difficulties are exactly the same. (You heard it here
> first!)
> The focus is on huge real estate developments — hundreds of units built
> and financed by corporations. But hey are advertised the same way as
> cohousing. Peace and quiet, cozy, great people, social activities, shared
> golf courses, control over quality of lifestyle, etc. Quality construction
> and design. There was a whole period of cooperative “home clubs” that sound
> like country clubs. At this point, people began appearing in the ads.
> Previously they had only emphasized the grandeur of the buildings.
> Fifty artists and writers came together in Greenwich Village to build a
> complex that was a very successful community with a long waiting list.
> Another example with blocks of buildings that was known for the typical
> condo fights-to-the-death also had a strong social culture — boy scout
> troops, cooking classes, settling in programs for immigrants — everything a
> city or non-profit supported community center might organize. Long waiting
> list. People stayed 20+ years. The author suggests that the fights were
> only a reflection of how engaged people were. The fights were used as
> negative publicity by rental apartment builders and certainly occurred but
> the social structure suggests they were not formative.
> Interestingly, it used to be the norm that people in apartments moved
> _every year_. It was programmed — moving either Oct 1 or another date
> depending on what state you lived in. Owner occupied was thus sold as
> secure and long lasting. People were attracted to having stable
> communities. One boasted in the press of having 3 generations living in the
> same complex. One had 15 playgrounds. There were 800 units and 760
> children. The focus was on professional management and modern technology so
> heavy involvement in governance was not expected.  Self-management and
> maintenance was specifically not the objective.
> Then after WWII, the move was toward government built or subsidized
> limited equity co-ops. Some less cooperative and more limited than others.
> Backed and insured with government funds it went on for decades but was not
> particularly successful. It reduced costs but took away all the attractive
> and productive features. In sociocracy, this would be characterized as
> misplaced ego. Who was in charge? Can’t have it both ways and build for the
> future.
> The most successful, however, were those started for social reasons.
> Affordability was important but the reasons the workers organizations,
> particularly unions, supported co-ops was that the workers deserved better
> housing and a good foundation in life. They needed more in terms of
> educational opportunities, children’s programs, etc. Many of the strongest
> were the product of largely Jewish groups also fighting for unions. it was
> a mission.
> Wealthy individuals also organized coops for the good of working class and
> professional families, not just for their peers. One wealthy matron was
> very public about her role as unofficial manager of the complex she helped
> develop in showing the units for sale, etc., for decades.
> Perhaps one lesson for cohousing is that commitment to the social
> benefits, equal rights, produced the strongest communities. Discussions
> about the social implications of governance decisions, for example, seem to
> be less frequent now than they were 20 years ago. The question is what
> should a policy cover, rather than what social effect do we want a policy
> to produce.
> Sharon
> ———
> Sharon Villines, Editor & Publisher
> Affordable Housing means 30% of household income
> Cohousing means self-developed, self-governed, self-managed
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