Re: Defining retrofit cohousing Retrofit Cohousing Panel for National Conference in NC (Jane Calbreath)
From: Kevin Wolf (
Date: Sat, 8 Nov 2014 10:38:53 -0800 (PST)
Hi all

The panel will be on cohousing that slowly takes over a block or a
neighborhood over a number of years. This is quite different from the
Swan's Market and other models where existing buildings were retrofitted
into a new built community in which all or almost all the residents moved
in at the same time. N Street style retrofit cohousing involves starting
with a a few houses and adding neighboring houses as opportunities arise.
N Street style usually involves lots of rentals as the neighboring
landlords don't want to sell but are willing to rent and allow the fence to
be removed between the neighboring houses.

We really could use better definitions to clarify the difference between a
Swan's Market and an N Street style "retrofit" cohousing because it is
obviously confusing people about which type of cohousing is being referred
to.   The Mirriam definition is

*1:*  to furnish (as a computer, airplane, or building) with new or
modified parts or equipment not available or considered necessary at the
time of manufacture
*:*  to install (new or modified parts or equipment) in something
previously manufactured or constructed
*:*  to adapt to a new purpose or need *:*  modify
<> <*retrofit* the story
for a new audience>

Definition number 3 works for both. Definition 1 works for the Swan's
Market type cohousing.    One proposal is to have N St type cohousing be
called Repurposed Cohousing, defined as "to change (something) so that it
can be used for a different purpose."

Clearly this definition could be used for either type of "retrofit"
cohousing but isn't an ideal word for either.

Another option is to add the modifier "built-all-at-once" retrofit
cohousing for the Swan's Market type, and call the N Street style
"converted-over-time" retrofit cohousing.

For the purpose of the workshop at this coming year's conference, the focus
will be on "converted-over-time" retrofit cohousing.  The Swan's Market
type cohousing is very similar to other standard ways cohousing is built
and finance where the conversion over time can be wildly different with
many variations of development, funding, membership, etc.

I hope this is helpful.

N Street Cohousing member

On Sat, Nov 8, 2014 at 6:34 AM, RJ Hirsch <heidinys [at]> wrote:

> Hi,
> As I recall, Swann's Market,   which we have visited while in Oakland,
> California,  is, as I recall retrofit.
> Also,  as I recall, Monterey CoHo, in the Twin cities.
> best,
> Ruth Hirsch
> Cantines Island, Saugerties
> Approaching twenty years in residence, and
> Where we very unusually have two homes + 1 lot available.
> PS:  I have an intermittent e-mail glitch.  If you write and do not hear
> back from me shortly, please call me or please re-send.  Thank you,  Ruth
> Date: Thu, 06 Nov 2014 15:30:35 -0800
> From: Jane Calbreath <jane.calbreath [at]>
> Subject: [C-L]_ Retrofit Cohousing Panel for National Conference in NC
> Dear Cohousers:
> I am a Coho US board representative serving on the conference committee for
> next year?s CohoUS National Conference taking place in Durham, North
> Carolina in May 2015. We have scheduled a panel session on ?Retrofited
> Cohousing? and I am  interested in connecting with cohousers from existing
> retrofit communities to participate on our panel. We are specifically
> interested in people who are located in the eastern part of the US, and
> feel
> free to contact me if you are interested or have a recommendation of
> someone
> who would be a good spokesperson for this presentation. Kevin Wolf from N
> St. Cohousing in Davis, CA has already agreed to be part of the panel. We
> would like to cover the legal issues and the process that are involved.
> Thank you in advance,
> Jane Calbreath
> California Rep
> Board Member
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