Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tübingen's Development Story: part 2

If you haven't already read part 1 of Tübingen's Development Story, better read it now...

You've just arrived in Tübingen needing a place to live, and discovered the high cost of housing. Although served by excellent public transportation, including eight local and express rail lines, it's much more convenient to live in town, where shopping and the university are within walking distance.

So you go to the city Web site (all links are grouped at the end of this post). There you find the Office of Urban Development's page, complete with a list of projects they're working on. You learn that you can take part in a group that will design, build, and own a building in one of several project areas. These are known as "building cooperatives". Some of the projects are complete and nearly full, like the French Quarter, but the Alte Weberei Lustnau (Lustnau Old Mill) project is still in the development phase.

Sounds like a possibility. Your first step is to fill out an application stating that you're interested in joining a group and approximately how many square meters of space you'd like. That done, you need to find a compatible group of people who are looking for more partners, and who have ideas about housing you agree with. You can look at a list of open groups on line, and you can come to the "Stock Market" (or "flea market", as Cord Soehlke calls). At the "market", each open group has representatives at a table, and you can go talk with them. Some may have concept drawings illustrating their idea of what the group's house might look like.

After looking at the on-line list of each groups, you go to the "market", where you talk with the groups you thought looked promising. (I believe the market is held one evening a month, either at City Hall or at the project itself.)

You end up going with a group of seven others: one retired couple, two women university students, and a university professor and her husband and child. The professor is the daughter of the retired couple, but the two students are not related. After you join, they still need another family or partnership to join the group and provide more financial clout.

The group is interested in a low-energy building with a traditional look, but lots of light to dispel the gloom of winter - which is about the same in Tübingen and Ann Arbor. The ground floor will be either a shop or office space, depending on who else joins the group. This is a requirement of the City, so that the neighborhood will have employment and shopping opportunities in it. There will be four or five stories of apartments above the ground floor, depending on whether the commercial partners want to live in the building or not. In any case, the building will have an elevator, since the retired couple aren't good on stairs anymore.

The professor and the retired man seem to be the most active members of the group. They explain that the group first needs to put in a bid for some plots of land in the project. The bid is not in terms of money, because the City owns the land and sells it at the same price per square meter to everyone. Rather, the bid explains what our building will be like and what it will offer the community. Bids are scored according to their intrinsic value and also their contribution to the community. Your group can't submit the form until you have a partner who will use the ground floor because that determines, to a large extent, its contribution to the community...and the deadline for submission is July 1. So they're quite anxious to find a commercial partner.

One possible commercial partner comes along: a young man and his girlfriend who are interested in finding space for a bar. The retired couple aren't sure they want to live over a bar, and bar entrepreneurs aren't sure this group will have enough space for them, but the group signs them up tentatively in case nothing else works out. Before long, however, a dentist and his wife and two kids come along, looking for a dental office space and an apartment. You and the group agree to go with them rather than the bar people.

You now have a complete group, and can file the application. An important part of that is your space requirements: about how large a footprint do you need? You need to give a minimum amount of space for what you have in mind, and the maximum your group can afford to buy. You will be using 60-80% of the land area for building, and at least 20% will be for outdoor public space. You might have a private garden if you get enough land, but it will be pretty small. There will be plenty of shared open space in park areas throughout the project. You also need to indicate your preferences on which building areas you'd like your building to be in, too, based on the overall layout of the project, which was prepared by the city planning department.

The group then decides the ground floor of your building will become a dental office, and there will be a floor each for the dentist's family, the retired couple, and the professor's family. You and the two students will have apartments on the top floor (the fifth) but you have yet to decide on a floorplan.

Next step: financing! You'll also need an architect and - possibly - a project manager. We'll tackle those challenges in the next post...

To learn more (and in case your German is rusty, here's Google Translate)

1 comment:

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