Dandelion Village has recieved a preliminary planned unit development, a special zoning, from the city of Bloomington. It allows us to build ten small footprint, two story single family homes, a large common house with apartment style housing for up to 15 people and numerous workshops and out buildings. The single family homes are limited to 400 square feet in footprint, plus an additional 100 square feet of attached greenhouse. The large common house has been granted a footprint of up to 4000 square feet and may be as tall as three stories. The PUD also grants us up to 50 chickens and three goats.
The requirement that came with the PUD is that we have to finance and build the infrastructure to support these buildings. That infrastructure includes a fire road, sewer and water lines, gas lines, electric hookups and a dry pond to manage the 22 acres of run off water that flow through the village property. The estimates we got for the cost to build that infrastructure ranged from $150,000 to $250,000.
Initially, we thought we would be able to get financing to build the infrastructure itself first, and then pay off that initial financing through a combination of member dues, member buyins and mortgages on the first few houses we build. One of the original founders was confident enough that this plan would work out that he began construction on his home in the village, knowing he wouldn’t be able to live in it if we didn’t get the infrastructure built. It eventually became clear that this wasn’t going to work and we weren’t going to be able to get financing with out a clear village legal structure with an established financial history and a clear business plan that would be recognizable to banks. This forced us to pause, regroup and rethink our approach to rebuilding the village.
We have now formed Dandelion Village, LLC. We have moved the lease of 1710 out of the name of an individual village member and into the village LLC. All dues are now paid to the LLC and the LLC pays our rent.
In the short term, we are going to be focusing first on purchasing 1710 W. 8th street in to the LLC and second on moving the village land in to the LLC. From there, with the village land and existing living space in the LLC structure and being steadily paid off through a combination of rent and dues, we will be a stable village. We’ll be able to continue living and working the land essentially at whatever pace we choose. We hope to spend the next few years improving Dandemonium house, building systems on the village land, growing the village—possibly renting or buying additional properties in the neighborhood to do so—and generally establishing the village as a solid and established legal entity.
After that the plan is to approach organizations that fund sustainable or cooperative business endevours (such as Slow Money or National Students of Cooperation) and ask for financing to build the infrastructure and the common house in one go. The idea would be to use the income from the common house, in combination with village dues, to pay off debts incurred in the construction of both. And once the infrastructure is complete we could begin providing plots to members interested in building homes on the village land.
This plan will provide us stablity pretty early on, once we’ve purchased Dandemonium house and moved the land in to the LLC we’ll be financially stable.
From there we can take our time, learning what we need to do, refining the business plan and our proposal for potential financiers. We can take as long as we need to procure the financing to move on to the next stage. It will be a long and slow road. But a worthwhile one. Trail blazing is always difficult and we knew what we were getting in to when we started. In the mean time, we can enjoy the fruits of that which we’ve already planted.