2008-12-04, 16:12

Cohousing Projects -- An Unlikely But Viable Opportunity In These Troubled Times

By: Multifamily Real Estate Industry Team
I just read an article in the New York Times about how a developer was able to unload an unfinished project in Brooklyn that was intended to be high-end condominiums. A group of Brooklyn residents incorporated as Brooklyn Cohousing L.L.C., has contracted with the developer to buy the unfinished project (known as Carlton Mews) and, to quote the article, "fill it 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." The idea is to create a thriving community that allows its participants to be as private or social as they like.

According to the article, there are about 110 cohousing projects in the United States and Canada, most in areas more rural than New York City, but there are a handful of other urban cohousing ventures, for example in Boston, Seattle and Oakland, CA. Not to be confused with the hippie communes of earlier days, cohousing projects are for sophisticated people who know what they are getting into, who have enough money to live elsewhere, but who intentionally choose to live in a community where they know their neighbors, their children can play with other children and have friends and neighbors of all ages, where they can share meals with one another frequently and where the adults can hang out together.

The reason cohousing projects may be an opportunity for some developers who have stalled projects on their hands is that, as with the project in Brooklyn, the development can be sold to one entity, instead of having to attempt piecemeal sales. Also, it appears that present-day cohousing ventures, unlikely as it may seem, may well have the financial wherewithal to do a deal.

To read the full article from the Times, go to http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/30/realestate/30cov.html?_r=1&pagewanted=2

(This entry posted by Karen Estelle Carey, a member of Womble Carlyle's Real Estate Development and Construction group.)

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