They probably should have stuck with the pros.
The New York Times is reporting some of those who bought into a plan to turn an old farm in Bethany, Connecticut just outside of New Haven into a utopia where residents live and grow crops together are out more than $100,000 each after plans to create the state’s first co-housing community went bust.
The plan, the seeds of which were planted more than a decade ago, seemed simple: fill a portion of a 33-acre plot of land with attached housing in which residents own their homes but share other common spaces with a goal of staying connected to a community through collaborative living.
But the reality of the business of building what was known as Rocky Corner came crashing down on its investors, and contracts for homes that had never been closed became null and void. Problems for builders included navigating the bureaucracy to get approvals from the town’s planning and zoning commission, having unforeseen building obstacles such as a large amount of underground rock that had to be removed, and the cost of a water treatment system demanded by the regional water authority when planners intended on just digging wells.
By the time the bank responsible for construction loans sold the land out from under them during foreclosure proceedings in November, developers were somewhere between $3 and $4 million underwater, according to the report.
Most of those involved with Rocky Corner who spoke with the newspaper agreed that the complexity of the project turned out to be more than the group could manage — or afford.
“They did the best they could, but these were not professional developers,” one a retiree who signed a purchase agreement for a unit but later backed out told the newspaper. “There was a kind of fantastical thinking.”
But just because this attempt at co-housing failed doesn’t mean the idea can’t work.
There are nearly 170 co-housing communities in the United States right now, the newspaper reports, with Califonia leading the way with 30, and another five in New York State.
[New York Times] — Vince DiMiceli