October cohousing workday supports cohousing community

Enjoying a meal outside Meal prep at its finest Cleaning common work area BSC member adding a coat of paint to swing set BSC member hedging at Cornerstone BSC Member gardening at Cornerstone BSC Member raking fall leaves

A Cohousing Workday

BSC member weeding at Cornerstone
BSC member weeding at Cornerstone

Members of Cornerstone Village Cohousing have graciously opened their doors and allowed Bay State Commons cohousing to host meetings twice a month in their common house area. In order to show appreciation and give back to our hosts, on a Saturday in late October members of Bay State Commons cohousing joined the residents of Cornerstone for an on-site workday. There were many indoor and outdoor projects to tackle in order to prepare their common facilities, green space, and gardens for winter. This included trimming back plants of all sizes, raking, pulling weeds, painting, and sweeping.

Fun Fact

Cornerstone was a featured stop on a 2017 ‘Secret Gardens of Cambridge’ community tour, something Cornerstone’s urban gardeners are proud of.

Urban Green Space

It was a beautiful day to be outdoors. Working people laughed, shared stories, and in many instances got down in the dirt and connected with a large green space, something that is generally uncommon in an urban setting. It was a great model for Bay State Commons cohousing members to see. Similar to Cornerstone, the future Bay State Commons site is in a similar semi-urban setting. Our project is also envisioned to maximize outdoor green space.

BSC cohousing member raking fall leaves
Raking fall leaves

Work-day participants also connected over a tasty lunch prepared by several Bay State Commons volunteer chefs. Overall the workday was a success, and we want to thank Cornerstone for their generosity in allowing us to use their common space for our meetings. They continue to support and inspire us as we move forward and envision our own future building and community green space.

 

Bay State Commons cohousing members in action

BSC cohousing member cleaning common work area
Cleaning common work area
BSC cohousing member adding a coat of paint to swing set
Adding a coat of paint to swing set
BSC cohousing member hedging at Cornerstone
BSC member hedging at Cornerstone
BSC cohousing member - Meal prep at its finest
Meal prep at its finest
BSC cohousing member enjoying a meal outside
Enjoying a meal outside
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November 2017 Newsletter Update – Bay State Commons Forging Ahead On Schedule

Model of the ground floor of the common house, mid-2017.
Model of the ground floor of the common house, mid-2017.

Bay State Commons Cohousing is forging ahead on schedule, and is looking for new members to join as we move towards construction.  We have finished the design sessions with our architects, who will now be converting our conceptual design to building plans which can be submitted to the city for approval.

Before the design is finished we have 15 “small” design issues to resolve at our meetings.   Do we want a fireplace and if so, a wood or gas fireplace?  How do we handle trash and recycling?  Do we want a metal roof?  Would a ground source heat pump work for us? Etc.

Near the end of 2017, we will formally apply for project permitting from the City of Malden. Between now and then, we have time to work out some final design details and focus on marketing. Of our community’s envisioned 30 units, we have now sold 14, and 5 households have expressed an intent to become an ‘Equity Member’ and commit to purchase a unit.

By the end of January 2018, we will execute our option to buy 368 Pleasant Street and become its owners. By early to mid-2018, we hope to complete permitting and construction financing. At that time, we would break ground and begin construction on our new homes. If all goes according to plan, the new community’s doors will open in mid-2019.

If you are interested in learning more about this exciting project, send us an email, or come to one of our every-other week planning meetings or upcoming social events to learn more and get involved!  www.baystatecommons.org or baystatecommons@gmail.com

Hope to be in contact!

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Bay State Commons FAQ

Peggy cooking for a community party.
Peggy cooking for a community party.

1. What is Bay State Commons?

Bay State Commons is a group of people who want to live in a residential community together. We are working as our own developer, designing and building a cohousing community of thirty households in Malden, Massachusetts. We are families, couples, and single people, representing four generations and a wide variety of tastes and interests. We are motivated by finding “the old neighborhood” feeling, where people not only know their neighbors, but are part of one another’s lives. It is important to us that our members can age in place and that parents have the support of their neighbors in raising children.

2. Are you a commune?

We are not a commune. Bay State Commons is a cohousing community. Units will be privately owned, and they will be fully self-sufficient. That means you have your own kitchen, bathrooms, and living room; you can have your own in-home laundry; and when you close the door of your unit, you are free to enjoy the privacy of your own space. For more information about cohousing, see What Is Cohousing?

3. So, are you just a condo?

Legally and in terms of ownership, we will be organized as a condominium. That said, we mean to differ from a typical condo both physically and in use. Our private units will be situated around a large common house. At over 5,000 square feet, this common house will include guest rooms, children’s play areas, exercise facilities, art and music spaces, a workshop, decks and gardens, as well as a “great room” suitable for a common meal of 70 people, a kitchen large enough to cook such a meal, and multiple living rooms and multi-purpose spaces. We choose to share these amenities and govern them as a community, because we believe the joys and efficiencies in such an arrangement outweigh the benefits of the divided and purely private.

4. Will I have to rent the common spaces?

For the most part, no. The common house will function as an extension of your private unit. In cohousing, common spaces are used freely and often. The opportunity to run into neighbors and spark conversation is a goal for us, and the common spaces will be built to facilitate interaction. This differs from many condos, whose clubhouse is locked unless paid for. There may be charges for holding meetings of outside groups or office meetings, but residents may just reserve the rooms on the community calendar.

5. How much community will there be?

We seek a balance between the private and the shared. Like most cohousing communities, we will share the maintenance of our common facilities and grounds. There will be regular common meals, probably 2-3 per week, cooked by a rotating team of residents. Aside from this, we expect that our members’ passions and hobbies will result in all sorts of movie clubs, game nights, holiday traditions, and outings. Members will pick and choose between events and maintenance tasks. Some level of community engagement is expected, but in cohousing there are fairly wide ranges of engagement. Nobody is going to ostracize you or kick you out because you’re too busy this week or don’t like gardening.

6. How will the community be child-friendly?

Bay State Commons is focused on being a great place to raise kids. Our community will have dedicated indoor and outdoor children’s play areas, secluded from the street and in clear view from common spaces. Beyond the facilities, cohousing offers particular benefits to children and their parents. In a community of trusted neighbors, children can run freer than is typical in today’s cities. Neighbors may offer to watch one another’s kids, or to take them along to the zoo or museums. Not only does this “free babysitting” help busy parents balance everything they need to do, it means children grow up knowing many adults as friends. Cohousers report that children grow up with a better understanding of what adult life is like and more ready to take on adult roles because they have grown up with so much peer contact with adults.

7. Where will the community be?

We hold an option to buy the property at 368 Pleasant St, Malden, Massachusetts. The site is in a residential neighborhood with many attractions within walking distance:

  • 4 minutes’ walk to Malden Center MBTA Station:
    • Orange Line Service to Forest Hills via North Station, Downtown Crossing, and Back Bay
    • Commuter Rail on Haverhill Line
    • Bus hub for 20 bus routes
  • 6  minutes’ cycling:  Northern Strand Community Trail, a bicycle trail for commuting into Boston or cycling up the coast
  • 10 minutes’ walk. Stop & Shop supermarket and Super 88 Asian Market
  • 5-15 minutes’ walk: Italian, Chinese, Ethiopian, Mexican, and American restaurants
  • 5 minutes’ walk: Idle Hands Craft Ales, an award-winning craft brewhouse and taproom
  • 2-15 minutes’ walk: Beebe Harris public elementary and junior high school, Mystic Valley Regional Charter high school, Malden Public Library.
  • 10 minutes’ walkFellsmere Park, with a tree-lined pond and fountains.
    Middlesex Fells Reservation, a state park of 2,200 acres with reservoirs and over 100 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding (Source: Wikipedia )

8. What will the units be like?

In individual units, we favored an open floor plan for flexible uses: even our smallest studio can host a holiday feast. The units themselves run from a 384 square foot studio to a 1,222 square foot three bedroom. See floor plans.

9. What are you doing to be environmentally sustainable?

We have also prioritized energy efficiency and anticipate exterior walls with an R-value of 40. Our roof will capture rainwater in barrels used for watering our vegetable and herb gardens. The roof will be constructed to accommodate solar panels and we are currently evaluating the best way to include solar power generation. We have chosen highly energy-efficient boilers for heating and will bring fresh air into the building with a heat exchanging system to minimize loss.

10. Will the community be accessible for someone with a mobility impairment?

Yes, we are designing with wheelchair and other accessibility in mind. An elevator will provide access to all floors. All private units will be visitable by a wheelchair and any unit can be converted to wheelchair accessible for a resident. We view this as essential to fulfilling our promise to help members age in place and to being an inclusive community.

11. Will I have to do laundry in the common house?

All private units will be equipped with attachments for in-unit laundry. There will also be laundry rooms on each floor of the common house, each with multiple large washers. We wanted to give people the opportunity to save on this large appliance expense without dictating that all laundry facilities must be shared. The common laundry can be a pleasant place to encounter neighbors, plus it’s a useful backup even for those who buy private washers.

12. Will I hear my neighbors?

We believe proper sound insulation is essential for neighborly harmony. We have prioritized between- and in-unit sound dampening and plan on walls rated at 54 STC. If your neighbor is practicing the trumpet, you will not hear them.

13. What about parking?

There will be underground parking, for cars and bicycles. Our plan is to include a parking space per bedroom, as required by the City of Malden, so we will have ample spaces for everyone and their guests. The parking garage will be wheelchair accessible by elevator from the interior and a ramp from the street.

14. How many units are still available?

This is a list of our available units as of 11 October 2017:

Bed RoomsArea (sq ft) Status
3 bed1222Someone’s interested
2 bed990Available
2 bed990Someone’s interested
2 bed874Available
2 bed874Available
1 bed681Available
1 bed681Someone’s interested
1 bed +671Available
1 bed +671Available
1 bed646Available
1 bed646Available
Studio507Available
Studio507Available
Studio507Available
Studio443Available

15. Where are you in the development process?

Bay State Commons has been meeting since 2013 and we intend to complete construction in 2019. Along the way, we have gone through a sequence of critical phases:

  • 2013: Project definition: We spent the first year defining key parameters of our project. We committed to making decisions by consensus and began receiving training in doing that well. We brought on cohousing consultants to help us compose our project vision statement. Starting from that vision and researching the area, we settled on four Boston-area cities to search for a site.
  • 2014: Company formation: The following year was all about bringing together our team and establishing our governing documents. We grew from four to eight households, defined the approach we would take to project financing, wrote our organizational by-laws, and incorporated as an LLC. In late September, we took our first equity investments from members.
  • 2015: Site search: Together with development consultants, we scoured our top four towns for property where we could build. We rapidly discovered just how challenging this process would be. Developers are buying property near Boston as quickly (or usually, before) it comes onto the market. Would-be sellers ask prices that make building affordable housing outright impossible. Even so, we attracted investment from three new households. And late in the year, we entered into negotiations to buy a promising piece of property.
  • 2016: Site search into development: We hired Chris ScottHanson — author of The Cohousing Handbook and development manager for over 35 cohousing communities in the United States — to help us negotiate and move forward through site acquisition. We worked with architects to develop a program for how we wished to use the property and explored in detail how to approach ecological sustainability. Enthusiasm for our momentum helped us add two new invested households.
  • 2016: Another site search: After six months, however, it became clear that the site we had focused on would not work out and we went back into search. We quickly identified 368 Pleasant Street in Malden as where we wanted to go next, and put in an offer. We evaluated proposals from three teams of architects and selected the Neshamkin-French and French2D team. The American Legion, current owners of 368 Pleasant Street, accepted our offer to buy their site, and we began formally evaluating the site’s feasibility for our project.

2017: Architectural Design

  • Dec 16-January:  Our architects led us through a “visioning” phase, in which we laid down the general parameters of our project for the architectural team. We identified key uses of common spaces, our preferences for private unit features, and how the overall structure would inform the relationship between the private and the shared.
  • February-April:  We continued into “concept design,” in which we selected the overall building structure, the placement of parking, and the mix of unit sizes.
  • May-July: We worked with the Neshamkin-French/French2D team to develop a “schematic design.” This phase entailed placing the individual units within the building, evaluating light and airflow in the context of various materials, and developing aesthetic choices.
  • August-September: The architects led us through “design development.” This highly technical process involved contributions from specialists in many areas of engineering. The architects placed windows, developed detailed plans for wall composition, and called for final decisions on things like ventilation. Chris ScottHanson worked with our finance committee to provide unit price estimates.

Late 2017-Mid 2019 Construction and Move-In:

  • Near the end of 2017, we will formally apply for project permitting from the City of Malden. Between now and then, we have time to work out some final design details and focus on marketing. Of our community’s envisioned 30 units, we have now sold 14, and 5 Associate households have expressed an intent to come up to Equity.
  • By the end of January 2018, we will execute our option to buy 368 Pleasant Street and become its owners. By early to mid-2018, we hope to complete permitting and construction financing. At that time, we would break ground and begin construction on our new homes. If all goes according to plan, the new community’s doors will open in mid-2019.

    16. Good story, but when should I get involved?

In Bay State Commons, we are doing everything we can to sell all our units by the start of construction. Our marketing effort is going very well and units are selling fast. At the current rate, we will sell out by the end of 2017, which is both exciting and humbling. If you are curious and waiting for the opportune moment, the time to get involved is right now! Send an email to baystatecommons@gmail.com or come to one of our public events. We would love to meet you.

17. What’s the procedure for buying a unit?

Bay State Commons has a membership process intended to give new households the opportunity to get to know us and make an informed decision as to whether BSC is right for them.

After coming to a few planning and social meetings and reviewing the basic project documents, a household can come up to Associate membership for a one-time non-refundable fee of $250. Associate members participate in our meetings and have input into the final design of the community, but they haven’t bought a unit yet.

When a household has properly evaluated the rights, responsibilities, and risks of involvement at this phase (which include permitting and securing construction financing), they can come up to Equity membership. The financial obligation of Equity households is $5,000 up front and the remainder of 10% of their unit price within 90 days. For households demonstrating financial hardship, we offer payment plans in consultation with mortgage lenders. When construction is complete, this investment in BSC becomes equity in the new home.

 

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Welcome!

Architects' rendering of the building.
Architects’ rendering of the Bay State Commons building

Bay State Commons is steaming ahead – actively pre-selling units and looking for new members as we prepare for permitting and construction financing, with the goal of moving in to our new 30-unit building in mid-2019. Contact us to get more information about available units and to learn more about joining this exciting project!

About the Bay State Commons Community and Our Values

Bay State Commons is a diverse, multi-generational cohousing community situated in the Boston Metro-North area in Malden, MA. Since 2013 we have been growing: engaging new members through meetings and social events; defining our shared values and goals; searching for land and designing our upcoming community space.

Cooking at a Common House Meal
Community members preparing for a social gathering

Together with our architects, Neshamkin-French and French 2D, we have completed building design. During the rest of 2017, we will be seeking permits and financing for construction. We are on target to break ground in early 2018 and move into our new building in mid 2019.

We hold an Option to Purchase agreement for the American Legion site at 368 Pleasant Street in Malden, MA. The location is 750 feet from the Malden T stop and 20 minutes to downtown Boston. It is a short walk to groceries, restaurants, public parks, and public and charter schools. It is one mile from the Middlesex Fells, a 2,200 acre state park.

A Child Friendly Community

Malden was named “Best Place to Raise Your Kids” in Massachusetts by Bloomberg Businessweek in 2009.

Who Are We?

We are families, couples, and singles who have decided to form a community together. Some of us knew each other before the project started and others joined without knowing anyone. Our interests include cooking, gardening, making music, and just spending time catching up. Some of us work, some are in school, and some are retired.

Our Values

We place high importance on sustainability and a community that is as environmentally friendly as possible. We value good communication and reflectiveness, and our group process is designed with that in mind.

If you would like to get to know us a little better, or ask us questions about the project, please contact us—we would love to meet you!

Contact us!

Learn more about membership

Read the FAQs for more detailed information

Learn more about our members

Read our Vision Statement

Meet the professionals who are helping us  build the community.

 

 

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What Is Cohousing?

“Cohousing is a type of collaborative housing in which residents actively participate in the design and operation of their own neighborhoods. Cohousing residents are consciously committed to living as a community. The physical design encourages both social contact and individual space. Private homes contain all the features of conventional homes, but residents also have access to extensive common facilities such as open space, courtyards, a playground, and a common house with a large kitchen and dining room/meeting room and other facilities.”

Characteristics

These characteristics serve to distinguish cohousing from other types of collaborative housing:

  • Participatory process
  • Neighborhood design
  • Common facilities
  • Resident management
  • Non-hierarchical governance structure and decision-making
  • No shared community economy

There are more than 100 cohousing communities in the United States with many others around the world. The best source of information is the website of the Cohousing Association of the United States (CohoUS).

 

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July 2017 Newsletter Update – Bay State Commons to Meet with Future Neighbors

Meeting at Cornerstone Cohousing

MALDEN, MA (July 13, 2017)—Moving one step closer to bringing cohousing to Malden, the future residents of Bay State Commons recently held a successful open meeting with abutters and other Maldonians to discuss the group’s proposed condominium development outside Malden Square.

Bay State Commons is a growing cohousing group currently comprised of sixteen households of local individuals, couples, and families planning to redevelop the American Legion property at 368 Pleasant Street, Malden. Diverse in backgrounds, ages, and interests, all members desire to live in a community based on shared values such as environmental sustainability, social bonds between neighbors, and mutual respect.

Cohousing balances community and privacy, creating a traditional neighborhood designed and developed by residents working with innovative architects. There are currently 165 cohousing communities nationally, 12 in Massachusetts. Drawn by shared ideals, a cohousing group typically forms well before purchasing a site and developing housing on it. Bay State Commons is no different. Formed in 2013 and organized as an LLC in 2014, BSC currently holds an option to purchase the American Legion site, with plans to build 26 to 30 owner-occupied condominiums—plus shared common facilities for weekly group meals, childcare, and other activities—designed by Boston-based French 2D and Neshamkin French Architects. The group will be submitting its development proposal to the City of Malden for approval once the city’s current building moratorium expires, and hopes to move into the new complex in 2019.

Attendees at the open meeting listened to a presentation on the group’s plans, viewed sketches and models of the planned building, and got to know their future neighbors. The meeting is part of Bay State Commons’ continued dialogue with Malden and local residents.

To learn more and get involved, send us an email, or come to one of our every-other week planning meetings or upcoming social events!  www.baystatecommons.org or baystatecommons@gmail.com

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