Bristol Village Cohousing Update

Hi Cohousers:

We hope you are enjoying the last bits of our alarmingly mild winter, and looking forward to the arrival of spring!

There is much to report for the Bristol Village Cohousing Community, so it’s time for some updates. We’re planning a cohousing member meeting in the beginning of April (see below).

Sales progress

All three of the families who committed during our December marketing blitz have now become members, signed contracts reserving their units, and made the required deposits. So we have sold four units – three of the single family houses and one of the flats at 12 North Street.

We conducted another winter weekend of marketing presentations in February – one in Vergennes and one in Hinesburg. Two other households have followed up as a result of these meetings, requesting more information (including copies of our purchase and sales agreements). There are several other folks we have spoken to who are on the fence.

We have made amazing progress with sales so far – people willing to invest in our project  prior to the completion of our units, and during the part of the year when sales are usually slow. We will be scheduling more presentations over the next few months and hope to increase our marketing to folks interested in the cohousing movement nationally. We’ll keep you all posted.

In the meanwhile, please help us spread the word among those you think might be interested in living in a high performance home in a walkable community. We’d love to hear from them.  And if you are on the fence about committing to a unit, deciding sooner rather than later will enable you to reserve the home of your choice.

Construction financing

We have been meeting with folks at the Northfield Savings Bank, which is a locally owned and community-minded financial institution.  While we will be talking with our attorney to go over terms, their offer looks promising. We have enough contracts in hand for the loan to go forward, and are waiting to see whether the appraisal will validate our asking prices. We should have the appraisal in the next week or so, but the signs are good that we will meet this requirement.

If the loan is approved, we will be able to start construction this June, with project completion estimated by April 2017.

Attracting moderate income households

We have been meeting with several local non-profits to see how we can make some of our units affordable.  We want to attract young families who may not have the equity to meet down payment requirements, or the income to make the monthly mortgage payments on a high performance home. We’re very excited to report that the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board has agreed to help provide down-payment assistance for two of our units. The Addison County Community Trust is willing to be the financial agent for this assistance, and to help us find eligible families.

We will be reserving two of the 2-bedroom units for this program. Purchasers will need to have income sufficient for monthly payments on a $170,000 mortgage loan. VHCB will provide an additional $44,000 for the down payment. The purchased units will then become permanently affordable, with limitations on future sales prices.

To make this all work out, we will have to raise some funds to subsidize the initial purchase price. We are hoping to raise some of these funds through local charitable individuals and institutions. We will also likely want to commit some funds from within our cohousing group. These could be donations from our members and their social networks. Or we could pass along any savings from construction to these units. This part of the equation will be discussed and approved by the membership before we make final arrangements.

Let’s meet and celebrate!

Save the Date ~ April 2nd or 3rd

It’s time for all of our members to get together, get to know each other, make some decisions and celebrate how far we’ve come. Here are a few of the items we will want to address:

·       Review of the final design specs from the architecture committee. This will include decisions about materials, construction practices and costs.

·       Make some policy decisions:

o   Agreements and expectations for things like pets, parking, uses of the common facilities, larger community participation and the like.

o   Financial commitments that we are willing to make to have two units become permanently affordable.

·       Make a plan to increase member participation in marketing and other committee work.

To enable her to meet our start date deadlines, Jean Terwilliger, our principal architect at VIA, would like us to provide design and construction feedback within the next month. We have thus set the weekend of April 2-3 as our target meeting date.

We will likely only need one day to address these issues – we can send out questionnaires ahead of time to see where we have agreement and where we need to process.  So please let us know if you have a preference for a Saturday or Sunday meeting.There will be food and time to get to know each other outside of the meeting process.

That’s all, folks

A lot will be happening in the next few weeks – we’ll have our appraisal and more certainty about the bank loan, construction details will become clearer, and we’ll see what the appetite of various charitable entities is for helping us fund the affordable units. We will likely schedule some more local marketing presentations as well.

We’ll be checking in with you again in the next few weeks to finalize the date for our meeting and celebration. In the meantime, save the weekend!

Peg and Jim, for

Bristol Village Cohousing