In good times, idealists trying to start something like a cohousing project have trouble competing with developers for land; they have to put up their own money, don't have access to the same kind of mezzanine financing, and can't move as quickly. In times like these, suddenly they hold all the cards; they actually have money, (the deposits from all the participants) and don't touch fancy and risky loans. And there are a lot of developers under water who are happy to unload sites, often at a loss.
That is what is happening in Brooklyn, (previously noted here) where a group is buying a project, formerly 40 high end condos, and is planning to build:
"more modest apartments than the original developers intended and to fill them with families whose lives revolve around the courtyard and 6,000 square feet of common space where residents can cook together, play together, do woodworking or take an art class together."
Vivian Toy of the New York Times describes the attraction of cohousing for some of the members:
Carl Robichaud, a program officer at the Carnegie Corporation of New York who lives with his wife, Elsie Kagan, an artist, in a house in South Park Slope that they recently renovated, said he was hooked from his first meeting last spring. "What struck me was that the people seemed really grounded and sensible," he said. "It wasn't a pie-in-the-sky group of hippie idealists — not that there's anything wrong with that. But there was a real entrepreneurial spirit that captured me."
He and Ms. Kagan are expecting a child, and he said he liked the idea of living in a place where people feel connected to one another and where children have many adult mentors in their lives. He said he figured creating a community in his current neighborhood would take 10 years, "and we feel we need to kick-start it — we want that now."
There are many advantages to cohousing, particularly when one thinks of one's lifecycle rather than what one needs right now, as many are designed so that the spaces can adapt to different needs as one ages. This is a good time to be thinking about it.
New York Times
Cohousing in TreeHugger
Green Co-Housing Community Development In Nubanusit
Cohousing for Aging Boomers
Sustainable Community: A Cohousing Book
Green, Urban Cohousing: Eastern Village
Solar Row: Sustainable Housing In Boulder
Cohousing for Gen X and Y