Re: Development Phase of $ Commitment to Cohousing Community
From: Marty Maskall (
Date: Fri, 16 Sep 2011 07:04:28 -0700 (PDT)
In response to Eli Fishpaw's question about starting a cohousing community,
I strongly encourage him to go forward.  I am the founder of Folsom
EcoHousing, a forming group east of Sacramento.  We are partners with a
developer who owns the land.  The developer is carrying the land and putting
up 20% of the entitlement costs.  We are putting up the remaining 80%.  We
are doing this because we want to live in cohousing and because we believe
the world needs more cohousing.  Eli is correct about people having
different levels of risk tolerance.  But if we don't have some early
risk-takers, we'll never get off the ground.  By the way, the cohousing
listserv has lots of people who are in forming groups.  Many of us just
listen because we're so busy getting our communities started.  

I hope Eli will take the next step!

Marty Maskall
Project Manager & Future Resident -- a Family-Friendly Green Neighborhood
(916) 967-2472

Message: 1
Date: Wed, 14 Sep 2011 10:40:01 -0400
From: "elitalking" <elitalking [at]>
Subject: [C-L]_ Development Phase of $ Commitment to Cohousing
To: "Cohousing-L" <cohousing-l [at]>

I am an architect in Lexington, VA.  Last weekend I participated in a 
"Getting It Built (Cohousing)" Workshop in Nashville, TN with Katy McCamant 
and Chuck Durrett.  It was interesting to see a Nashville group in the early

stages of developing a vision of a cohousing community sufficient to risk 
investing money before the product is defined.  In my mind, it brings up the

question of what stage people commit to cohousing.  In the early stages, 
there is no site.  However, commitment is needed to secure a site for 
consideration.  Early purchasers are more at risk than late purchasers. 
Also, there is a fairly lengthy group process that requires time, work, and 
emotional commitment with no guarantee of a result.  I can believe it is 
enormously satisfying for a project to come to fruition having participated 
from the beginning.  You have the most opportunity to shape the character of

the community to meet the needs of your family.  All through the development

process, the vision becomes more defined and tangible, reducing the risk for

purchaser, assuming the buyer is satisfied with the decisions made prior to 
his or her involvement.  Then the project gets built and vacant units are 
sold to people who did not participate in the development process.  They 
take less risk in that they know what they are buying and avoid the lengthy 
vulnerable group process to achieve the value.  Some people purchase into 
cohousing from turnover where they also have some indications of the 
functionality of the community itself, with less risk and less opportunity 
to shape the community.

My hunch is that different personalities have different sensibilities about 
the trade offs between risk, lead time and interest in shaping the 

One reason to form a group to develop cohousing is that this option does not

exist in most communities.

I ask these questions because we have identified assets (land) in Virginia 
that we believe are suitable for developing cohousing.  Each site has 
intrinsic strengths with specific potential occupants, (urban, rural, multi 
generation, seniors, et). Our interest is designing to achieve net zero 
performance, reduce auto use, and enhance neighborhood cohesion for mutual 
support.  What if we developed a design build team and a design sufficient 
to define the price and product?  Our interest is pre-selling, not 
speculating.  However, developing a design and securing the land is a risk. 
We would also entertain the possibility of hosting a group process for 
developing our land.  I sense that most the people on this list already are 
living in cohousing, and therefore are not in the market.  However, I would 
really appreciate the reflections of those of you who have gone through this

process and made your commitment to your communities a various stages of 
development and risk.  What are the +- of making that commitment at various 

Thank you for reading my post.

B. Eli Fishpaw Architect
exington, VA 540-464-6778

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