In the twilight of fall, as daylight hours grow shorter, members of Bay State Commons Cohousing have been actively repurposing the concept of home is where the heart is. As we look to build a common building near Malden center, we continue to come together to grow our community. As the Thanksgiving holiday neared, two BSC members sent an email: ‘Our plans have changed. Would anyone like to have Thanksgiving together?’ In short order there were 18 willing participants, and on Thanksgiving we met at a home in Medford to share in relaxed conversation, delicious food, and a warm atmosphere.
Shortly thereafter we gave thanks to Cornerstone Village Cohousing for hosting our group in their common space without asking for anything in payment. We reciprocated by cooking a meal for 70 that included various lasagnas, salads, sides and many desserts, including apple-berry pie. It was the first night of Hanukah, so we lit the first candle on a menorah, and also celebrated members of BSC and Cornerstone who had December birthdays.
As we work together to build a common home in Malden, our hearts are full with thanks to everyone who has supported our project and encouraged us to make cohousing a reality. We have amazing guides, neighbors and friends who are a tremendous source of strength. Thank you!
Things are moving quickly for BSC. We have entered the permitting process with the city of Malden for the Orange-Line-adjacent site we are purchasing at 368 Pleasant Street. At our business meetings, members have completed a series of decisions that will affect the structure of our 30-unit building. And thanks to recent print advertising and recruiting events, we have a large group of active prospectives, some of whom have already entered the membership process.
In a few short months, our membership will be full. So now is the time to get involved if you think cohousing might be right for you. Bay State Commons will be the first new cohousing community in Greater Boston in over 10 years, and it may be many years until the next one comes along. The site plan and unit availability page on our webpage shows more information about our 30 condominiums. Please join us at these upcoming events:
● Thursday, March 1, 7-8:30pm, BSC Information Session! Cambridge Cohousing, 175 Richdale Avenue, Cambridge, MA. Please click here for directions.
We now offer group babysitting for our business meetings. Please ask for more details. And check out our Facebook page and our Meetup group!
We hope that you have been staying warm and dry during this snowy and cold start to 2018. Since sending out our December Newsletter late last month, we have some exciting new updates:
Bay State Commons recently launched our new website and just this week posted architect renderings of the building common areas and 3D images of available units, which can be found on our site plan and unit availability page. Small thumbnail images of several units can be seen below:
We have also launched a series of blog posts about BSC member activities, including recent building sustainability efforts and community-building activities.
Meanwhile, in Malden, where we will be closing on the site at 368 Pleasant Street in April, the multi-family building moratorium that has been in place for nearly two years ended at the close of 2017. BSC is now entering the construction permitting process that will hopefully allow us to break ground in the summer or fall of 2018, in advance of a 2019 move-in.
In anticipation of this, our membership recruitment has picked up momentum, thanks to an advertising campaign on social media and in The Boston Globe, Metro Boston and The Bay State Banner. With our current roster of members, both equity and associate, and the active prospective members recently coming to us, we are steadily filling up our membership. Now is the time to check out our community and our project before all 30 condo units are spoken for.
Join us for one of our upcoming meetings and events:
Tuesday, Jan. 16, 6:30–9pm, business meeting at Cornerstone Cohousing, 175 Harvey Street, Cambridge, MA. Please click here for directions.
Wednesday, Jan. 17, BSC Information Session! 6:30–8pm, Somerville Public Library, 79 Highland Street, Somerville, MA. Please click here for directions.
Thursday, Feb. 1, 7–8:30pm, BSC Information Session! Jamaica Plain Cohousing, 65 Cornwall Street, Boston, MA. Please click here for directions.
Tuesday, Feb. 6, 6:30–9pm, business meeting at the American Legion site at 368 Pleasant Street in Malden. Use the entrance on the side of the building where you go up a flight of stairs. There is parking available and is also a 5 minute walk from the Malden Center T station. Please click here for directions.
As always, thank you for your interest in Bay State Commons Cohousing. We hope to see you soon!
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.
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. While working, people laughed, shared stories, and in many instances got down in the dirt and interacted with the 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 planned to be in a similar semi-urban setting. Our project is also envisioned to maximize outdoor green space.
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 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 email@example.com
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 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 who have opted in to participate. 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 will 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 own the property at 368 Pleasant St, Malden, Massachusetts. The site is in a residential neighborhood with many attractions within walking distance:
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’ walk: Fellsmere 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.
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. This means that even 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.
Bay State Commons has been meeting since 2013 and we intend to begin construction in early 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, owners of 368 Pleasant Street, accepted our offer to buy their site, and we began formally evaluating the site’s feasibility for our project.
2018: Purchase of American Legion Building: Bay State Commons purchased the 368 Pleasant Street property in April, 2018.
2017-2018: Architectural Design
Dec 16-January 17: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 17: 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 17: 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 17-August 18: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. Based on an initial building permit denial for having a portion of the project be over four stories, design development was continued to formalize a three story version of the project.
Early 2019-Mid 2019 Construction and Move-In:
August 2018, we formally applied 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 pre-sold 15, and 3 Associate households have expressed an intent to come up to Equity.
Early 2019, if all goes well with permitting and construction financing, we will begin construction on the site of the new Bay State Commons project.
16. Good story, but when should I get involved?
If you are curious and waiting for the opportune moment, the time to get involved is right now! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or come to one of our or business meetings that occur every two weeks. 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.
Great News! Malden has enacted a Cohousing ordinance, allowing projects like ours to take shape in the community. We now plan to move forward through the permitting process with the goal of breaking ground later this fall. Our architects are working on adjustments to our 3-story, 30 unit design to submit to the city, and we will add these plans to the website soon. Stay tuned, and check out one of our meetings to learn more about our project. We have meetings twice a month, every first Tuesday in Cambridge, and third Tuesday in Malden. Information on meeting location can be found here.
We are a group of residents from Malden and surrounding towns who want to live in a residential community together. Working as our own developer, our intention is to design and build a cohousing development for thirty households (with units sized from studios to 3 bedrooms) at 368 Pleasant Street near the center of Malden, MA.
We are made up of families, couples, and single people, representing four generations and a wide variety of interests, include cooking, gardening, making music and just spending time catching up. Some of us work, some are in school, and some are retired. It is important to us that residents have the support of their neighbors when need arises, and have the opportunity to age in place.
Together with our architects, Neshamkin-French and French 2D, we are in the process of seeking town permits and financing for construction, and hope to break ground in early 2019. We look forward to becoming part of the greater Malden community.
What is Cohousing?
Cohousing is a way of building a community that balances private units with shared common space. We will be organized as a condominium, with the building space designed to encourage interaction and a sense of community. Along with units with standard amenities like private kitchens & dining room spaces, there will be expanded common space that is envisioned to include shared music andart spaces, a children’s play area, a workshop, exercise room, and common kitchen and “great room” suitable for residents to cook and eat together for occasional common meals.
You can learn more about cohousing in general by going to our ‘About Cohousing’ page, or referring to this webpage for a more visual representation of cohousing.
Who Are We?
Learn more about us here. We value neighborliness, good communication and thoughtfulness. Most of us didn’t know each other initially, but as we’ve worked together, we’ve already begun making connections as we look forward to the permitting, construction and move-in process.
You can learn more about us by checking out the below links.
“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.”
These characteristics serve to distinguish cohousing from other types of collaborative housing:
Non-hierarchical governance structure and decision-making
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.