As Central Co-op attempts to win a place anchoring the commercial development around Capitol Hill Station and repair the situation in Tacoma where it is looking for a new location to open a market after this year’s merger, it will do so while searching for a new leader.
CEO Dan Arnett told the 40-year-old cooperative’s members Thursday he will be stepping down in December to head a co-op in Sacramento. Arnett told CHS he was ready for a new challenge and that controversy over the closure of Central Co-op Tacoma had no impact on his decision to leave Seattle.
“It’s really irrelevant to my decision making process,” he said. “There’s always some group that’s mad about something.”
Overseeing the merger of the Tacoma co-op with the E Madison-headquartered Central Co-op was one of Arnett’s most significant accomplishments during his four years in Seattle. The Tacoma store later closed when Central Co-op could not reach an agreement on a new lease. Arnett said there were no plans for Central Co-op to make any further mergers, with Sacramento or elsewhere.
Last month, CHS reported on the frustrations of Tacoma co-op members following the abrupt closure of their store in the wake of a merger. Christine Cooley of Tacoma’s Friends of the Co-op group told CHS that she hopes Arnett’s resignation could expedite the opening of a new Tacoma store. “I worry a lot for Sacramento,” she said.
The residents gathered for a rooftop portrait (Images: Capitol Hill Urban Cohousing)
CHUC on 12th Ave. (Images: Capitol Hill Urban Cohousing)
“At some point you need to have that bigger vision in mind and that long term goal.”
Getting along with apartment building neighbors requires at least a modicum of social grace. Getting along with potentially lifelong neighbors that are also equal owners in a partnership to develop and own a building mandates serious training.
After breaking ground in 2014, and years of planning prior to that including classes in consensus decision making, the members of Capitol Hill Urban Cohousing are ready to move into their new home (and their 12th and Howell building is almost ready for them). You can get a sneak peek of the building on Saturday from 10 AM to 4PM as part of National Cohousing Open House day.
The 12th Ave cohousing development isn’t a traditional cooperative. CHUC residents are their own developers. While tenants in a cooperative or condo building have to eat the costs of a developer’s profit, CHUC residents say there are keeping their costs as low as possible and will essentially impose their own rent control once they have moved in. The nine families making up the community are all equal partners in an company that obtained a loan to develop the building.
Looking back on what it took to get to this point CHUC co-founder Mike Mariano paused when asked if he would do it all again.
“If you think about it too much, you would never do it,” said Mariano, a principal architect at Schemata Workshop. “At some point you need to have that bigger vision in mind and that long term goal.”
As Mariano and the rest of the CHUC members discovered, financing is not easy when you’re not trying to simply maximize profits. Developing the property as a community was a means to an end for CHUC — ends that include communal meals and work in the rooftop garden, longterm stability, and a tight-knit support group that will hopefully last a lifetime. Continue reading