Housing co-op celebrates grand re-opening

By Elizabeth Sias

The grand re-opening and renaming of Realife Cooperative to East Terrace Cooperative was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday morning, June 28.

Representatives from the Cambridge Area Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Marlys Palmer were on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony June 28 to mark the grand re-opening and renaming of East Terrace Cooperative. Photo by Elizabeth Sias

“It has been so interesting and fun and very inspiring to watch this large and beautiful building become home for so many people,” said Cambridge Mayor Marlys Palmer, whose mother was a member of the co-op. “There seems to be such a comfort and a sense of well-being within these walls.”

The senior housing cooperative at 2155 6th Lane SE behind the Menards in Cambridge has been around since 2006, but its residents are hoping the community will be more aware of the building’s existence, Board President Herb Kniep said.

“It’s basically a new start with a new name,” Kniep said. “One of the biggest problems we’ve had no matter where I go is people ask where I live and I say ‘East Terrace Cooperative’ and people ask what it is and where. Our main objective is to get the name before the people and get them aware of what there really is here.”

The public is invited to celebrate the Grand Re-opening of East Terrace Cooperative at an open house event from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 16. Lunch, tours, gifts for the first 25 guests and many door prizes will be offered. Everyone will leave with a gift from the cooperative’s own woodwork shop.

When the co-op was started, it was through a developer called Realife Cooperative, but with all 38 units now sold, the building is completely owned by the people who live in it. That’s why members decided to rename it. They chose to include ‘East’ in the title to give an idea of the building’s location within Cambridge.

The building is also under new management, but the company has no financial stake in the building.

The building has seven types of units ranging in size from 852 square feet to 1,497 square feet, with monthly fees costing approximately $1 per square foot.

All units are filled currently, but Kniep said they’re starting a waiting list for anyone interested in becoming a member should any units become available. To become a member or owner in East Terrace Cooperative, a share must be purchased. Once the share is paid in full, a membership certificate is issued. Each month, members pay a monthly charge that covers several costs, including mortgage, real estate taxes, gas, water, sewer and trash collection, lawn care, snow removal, grounds maintenance and more.

Some amenities at East Terrace include an underground heated garage with a car wash bay, a woodwork shop with tools and materials, a community garden, a great room/common room for get-togethers and parties, a library, an exercise room, a craft room and a guest room.

“It has been exciting to watch as you as a unit have come together with all your individuality and make one theme, and the theme is it is home,” Mayor Palmer said. “I believe you have created your own community within a larger community here, and it is not only remarkable, but it’s been a privilege to watch that and to have been a part of it.”

About Senior Housing Cooperatives

A housing cooperative is a business entity formed when people join together on a democratic basis to control the housing and/or related community facilities in which they live. Members purchase a share in the cooperative which permits them to occupy one housing unit. The cooperative owns the building — including appliances, fixtures, cabinets, floor and window coverings in the units — land and common areas. The share’s value is based on the size and type of unit. Each member pays a monthly fee, which is used to pay the cooperative’s monthly operating costs, such as administration, maintenance, utilities, reserves for operations, repairs and replacement, insurance, real estate taxes, and principle and interest on the master mortgage. Cooperative members retain personal income tax deductions for their respective share of the real estate taxes and mortgage interest.

Cooperatives are governed by their members through a member-elected Board of Directors who oversees management, governs policy, and is responsible for decision-making on behalf of the cooperative community. Professional management services hired by the cooperative provide on-site staffing, oversight of day-to-day operations of the cooperative and professional guidance.