|Re: Synergy & Problems in Florida||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Marya S. Tipton (sundoggburgtimes.com)|
|Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2000 21:29:55 -0700 (MST)|
Thanks, Sharon, for your valuable insight. That is one of the great things about the cohousing network. We can all learn from past mistakes and successes. -- Marya Tipton Hundredfold Farm Orrtanna, PA A Place to Grow! Visit our website at http://users.desupernet.com/rhubarb ---------- >From: Sharon Villines <sharonvillines [at] prodigy.net> >To: Multiple recipients of list <cohousing-l [at] freedom2.mtn.org> >Subject: Synergy & Problems in Florida >Date: Wed, Feb 9, 2000, 4:59 PM > > I would add a few more comments about the project in Florida. The project > did not fail from lack of enthusiasm on the part of the core group or from > lack of focus on recruitment or lack of good intentions or lack of sheer > effort or lack of organization. > > Part of the problem was life in South Florida. Real estate here is > incredibly cheap. Since it is one of the most rapidly growing areas of the > country there are numerous housing developments--gated communities-- going > up everywhere. They all have clubhouses and pools, etc., which on the > surface seem to be very similar to cohousing. Of course they aren't but its > a hard sell. > > The area is also greatly dispersed. The site was in a small town north of > Miami with not bad but not attractive schools. Other sites were considered > closer to Miami but they all had some difficulty or another. it was hard to > find people who wanted to move several towns away or commute further than > they were already commuting. And all sites would have required that. > > When the process extends over several years, you lose people as fast as you > attract them. Families have to make commitments to schools systems. Growing > families need more bedrooms _now_, not at some indefinite time in the > future. People are transferred or take jobs out of the area. Marriages break > up. Marriages start. Life goes on. > > Professionals are essential from start to finish. Experienced professionals > with track records--people who have done it before. Synergy was dealing with > a variety of unassociated professionals who had not worked together > previously and didn't even consult each other when they worked on Synergy. > The architect for example did not talk to the construction manager. Synergy > members were doing all the back and forth. One member with construction > experience was hired by the group to do the leg work, but ti wasn't enough. > The architects plans were almost a year late, were turned in with many > defects that had to be corrected, and construction costs had risen in that > time. The architect seemed to have no sense of the costs of his additions > and went forward with his designs even when his engineers said he would have > to add things like steel beams, doubling the costs. He did this without > consulting us. > > Other professionals charged thousands of dollars and did nothing. And > threatened law suits if they weren't paid. After Katy and Chuck did the > initial design workshops, the local professionals just didn't produce. > > Even when people contribute their time for the advantage of getting > experience it will hold you back. Inexperience means people have to learn > and it will take twice as long. This will cost you families/households who > cannot wait around indefinitely--like 5 years. Households willing to buy a > unit are worth much more than you can ever save in professional fees. > > Synergy was a fabulous project in concept and in design. That was also part > of the problem. People who are interested in cohousing are also interested > in affordable housing. Environmental and innovative designs are not cheap. > They are less expensive down the line, but few people have the funds to pay > for tomorrow today. The money isn't there. > > The difference between the Synergy experience and the Takoma Village > experience is like night and day. Takoma has a developer who works with > other professionals with whom he has established working relationships. He > hasn't done cohousing before but he has done numerous multi family > developments. He can tell the design team what will work and what won't and > why. He has architects and construction managers he can consult in a > telephone call. The people who work with him know they have to produce on a > time schedule or they will not only lose this project but future ones. > > For example, huge savings were achieved by selling units on a general floor > plan and not doing the expensive working drawings until most of the units > were sold. This allowed Takoma to change the mix of units without redoing > tens of thousands of dollars of working drawings (requiring re-engineering, > etc.). When the two-story, two-bedroom units were not selling, they were > changed to the two-bedroom flats people wanted. Money was not invested in > engineering before the place was ready to be engineered. > > Competition in construction is very high. The margins are very narrow. Time > is money. Professionals don't have time to spend educating and hand holding > the inexperienced. And the inexperienced don't know what questions to ask to > avoid problems. An experienced developer is essential. It doesn't mean less > work for the group--the Takoma people meet once a week in business meetings > and at least once in committee meetings. All decisions go through the > group--gas or real fireplaces? Open or closed kitchen? On and on. But the > project will be built and occupied in less than two years. > > > Sharon > -- > Sharon Villines, Butler > The MacGuffin Guide to Mystery Fiction > http://www.macguffin.net > Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington, DC > http://www.home.earthlink.net/~takomavillag/ > > > >
Synergy & Problems in Florida Sharon Villines, February 9 2000
- Re: Synergy & Problems in Florida Marya S. Tipton, February 9 2000
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