As the General Managers for Legacy Farm, our overriding responsibility was to create a viable project with all the approvals behind us. As a late step in that process, with the support of our Design Task Force, we are reworking our floor plan designs to include one story units in response to the needs expressed by many.
Our Architectural Designer, Chuck Silver, our Builder, Bob Cohn, and our Construction Manager, Paul Waddington, will soon get re-involved so we can begin re-pricing costs for construction and site development (we should expect a 10% - 15% reduction for labor costs but not necessarily materials). With these figures, we can update the budget and finalize our pricing. In turn, we will then get a more solid assessment of taxes and maintenance fees.
At this juncture, with our site plans & the NYS Attorney General Limited Filing approval behind us, as well as the engineering and design work 95% completed, this is the perfect time to involve a Financial Advisor-Consultant and/or Investor to propel us forward. Having someone on board with experience will help us identify any loose ends before proceeding with lenders or investors to secure financing for the project.
We have been in dialog with a Developer who has worked with two Cohousing projects near Boston. We are very pleased with the first rounds of discussion and are looking forward to our continued conversations. We will also continue to consult with Bruce Richardson who has been our Financial Consultant/Accountant in the past, and with Wonderland Hill Development Company, the largest cohousing developer in the US.
We see five milestones in building our Equity Membership:
1. Providing final designs, prices, and estimates for taxes and maintenance fees. Without this information, many interested prospective residents (PRs) are not comfortable in moving forward.
2. Engaging a financial consultant to guide us toward our financing.
3. Receiving a commitment for financing. Lining up our financing or getting a commitment letter from a lender will be a tremendous boost in confidence. Since the lending standards have changed in response to the economic crisis, the amount of money we need to bring to the table as our share of the investment has jumped from 20% to as high as 40%. Much of what we have raised so far has been spent on our ‘soft costs’, for example, paying professionals and approval process fees. As each PR household becomes an Equity household, their $25,000 cash contribution allows us to move toward raising the 40%.
4. Breaking ground for infrastructure, i.e. road, water and septic systems, photovoltaic array and electrical systems for the first phase of building homes.
5. Building homes. Here’s when the project becomes “real”. PRs can finally see actual buildings, instead of visualizing them from drawings and descriptions.
With each achievement, our PRs will gain the information and confidence they need to invest and become Equity members. Hopefully, activity on the land will begin this late fall/early winter with the felling of selected trees on the build-out area. That will be followed by breaking ground for infrastructure, starting with the road. The feedback we received after developing our swimming area at our large pond (docks, boats, boating supplies and picnicking facilities) is that the activity increased excitement in the project and PRs are interested in moving toward membership.
We appreciate all those PRs who continue to participate and are hanging in with us as we move forward. It would be in the best interest for all to not sit on the sidelines until all the unknowns are resolved. The more you get involved the better you will know if we and Legacy Farm are going to be in your future.
Ellen Sribnick, & Linda Gluck, Co-General Managers