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Dark-Sky Community: Rental instead of Ownership

David Oesper
 

In the coming weeks and months I am going to explore the notion of a Dark-Sky Community that is owned and operated by some sort of corporate entity where residents rent instead of the usual approach of purchasing land and building a house on it (or buying an existing house). I am not aware that this has ever been tried before, but it would have several advantages. For example, no need to be wealthy or having to go into debt in order to move to an astronomy-oriented community, and ease of moving in or out as circumstances change (such as poor health in old age).

Short of finding someone who would be willing to fund such a venture, we will need to find a developer with experience developing rural communities (intentional communities or otherwise) in the chosen geographic area who will be able to turn a reasonable profit.

Interested in your thoughts, as always.

Dave

Re: Dark-Sky Community: Rental instead of Ownership

Steve Taylor
 

I am pretty sure that the crook that was setting up Hidalgo was aiming to do time shares along the lines you're thinking of.
There might be a market, but who'd risk it, after all the collapsed schemes ?


On Tue, 31 Dec 2019 at 19:21, David Oesper via Groups.Io <oesper=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:

In the coming weeks and months I am going to explore the notion of a Dark-Sky Community that is owned and operated by some sort of corporate entity where residents rent instead of the usual approach of purchasing land and building a house on it (or buying an existing house). I am not aware that this has ever been tried before, but it would have several advantages. For example, no need to be wealthy or having to go into debt in order to move to an astronomy-oriented community, and ease of moving in or out as circumstances change (such as poor health in old age).

Short of finding someone who would be willing to fund such a venture, we will need to find a developer with experience developing rural communities (intentional communities or otherwise) in the chosen geographic area who will be able to turn a reasonable profit.

Interested in your thoughts, as always.

Dave



--
 

Re: Dark-Sky Community: Rental instead of Ownership

David Oesper
 

Hi Steve,

I'm no expert on timeshares, but I think of those as vacation rentals. My dark-sky community idea is different. Basically,

  1. Residents of the DSC will rent a house or apartment as their primary residence.
  2. Lodging will be available for guests and visitors.
  3. The benefit corporation running the DSC will own the houses, apartments, and guest lodging, and it will also build and own observatories used by its residents and visitors. Just as you own the things you move into your house or apartment, residents that want their own private observatory will own the equipment in it. When you leave the DSC, you take your equipment with you, but the observatory stays behind.

Dave

Build-To-Rent (B2R)

David Oesper
 

Something worth considering...

"B2R is a collaboration of developers, construction companies, investors and management companies to build single-family housing on a large scale, much the same way as it’s done in multifamily housing.

But single-family investors and developers are taking the concept to a new level, building single rental homes or even entire subdivisions with similar flavor as highly amenitized and managed apartment communities.

Developers and owners can save significantly on building costs and earn greater returns by constructing a whole neighborhood at once, as opposed to building one-offs or buying properties in other areas and converting them to rent houses.

By contracting with a single general contractor, risk isn’t passed on to owners until the property receives a certificate of occupancy. Also, renters are more likely to stay longer in a brand-new home compared to one that’s been lived in, which reduces turn costs for the management company, say single-family industry experts. And a new home with a new tenant is more desirable when courting long-term investors."

Reference https://www.propertyware.com/blog/single-family-market-embracing-build-rent-model/

I'll be contacting companies that are developing B2R neighborhoods--particularly in the desert SW--as well as industry groups advising in this space over the next month or so, and report back here. There has got to be a way to affordably develop a B2R in a rural area using innovative modular construction to keep costs down to build a dark-sky community that will appeal primarily to retired and semi-retired astronomy enthusiasts.

Re: Build-To-Rent (B2R)

Steve Taylor
 

I don't know about everyone else, but I am very burned by my experience of working with a developer....

Until we bought our house that was already on site, my plans had been to prefabricate a container home off site, and have it trucked in. The cost of shipping was pretty remarkably low.

Re: Build-To-Rent (B2R)

David Oesper
 

I hear you, Steve. My limited experience with developers so far has not been very good either. Some of the articles about B2R I've been reading in trade publications have a tone that is bit too rapacious for my taste. We need to be very careful.

Clearly, I'll be trying to find a developer a little outside the mainstream that has more than just profit motivating them, and some intelligence about and genuine interest in what we're trying to do. At every point in the development and the management of the dark-sky community, those of us who will be living there will need to have a lot of input into how things are done.

Always appreciate your comments and ideas.

Thanks,

Dave

Mirador Astronomy Village

David Oesper
 

This is a discussion group for dark-sky and astronomy-friendly communities in general, but to refer to the specific dark-sky community I am working to establish, I'll be referring to it as "Mirador Astronomy Village".

Snowbirds

David Oesper
 

A classical violinist friend of mine who is now retired contacted me this weekend with the excellent suggestion of accommodating "snowbirds" who would like to stay at Mirador during the winter months. Accommodating RVs and campers will not be difficult to do, but for those wanting to rent an apartment or house for, say, six months of the year, brings up the issue of how we can make use of those residences during the summer months so that they generate rental income year-round. In the summer months, (1) students are generally not in school, and (2) families are most likely to take vacations. Something for us to consider.

RV Accommodations

David Oesper
 

My classical violinist friend writes,

Many “snowbirds” we have met do their staying in their rv instead of condos. We have done this ourselves in Florida, Arizona, and Alabama for several weeks at a time. In the hot summer, most likely many of your camping rv sites would be vacant but there wouldn’t be the same issues as a condo being empty for months at a time. A wild area similar to many state parks would be great! This might be possible depending on how much land you have. Some sites could have full hookups but others could have just electricity and water at a reduced rate. Sewer hookups would be desirable for larger RV’s that stay longer. Many parks have weekly and monthly rates giving a break from nightly rates.

High desert with an unobstructed view of the entire sky would be the preferred location for Mirador, and there land would be less expensive, but being close to a state or national park is likely to improve the economical viability and appeal of the astronomy community, even if the land costs more.

Re: RV Accommodations

David Oesper
 

Two important considerations regarding including an RV park at Mirador:

RVs will have a separate entrance and access road to and from Mirador.

Balance Between Permanent Residents and Visitors

Even though visitors will provide an important source of income for Mirador, reducing rent and providing income opportunities for permanent residents, the quality of life for permanent residents should not be adversely affected by the influx and presence of visitors.

Medical Care Considerations

David Oesper
 

One of the biggest challenges facing any dark-sky community is locating it within easy reach of high quality medical care. This is particularly important if the DSC is going to attract retirees.

As I consider where to locate Mirador Astronomy Village, I am wondering if there are any excellent hospitals in rural Arizona, New Mexico, or West Texas.

Dave

Re: Medical Care Considerations

Steve Taylor
 

Not close, but IIRC, there is a subscription heli-evac service for the Animas valley area. If minutes count, you are asking for conflicting things -dark skies, and a great suburban hospital.


On Mon, 3 Feb 2020, 02:48 David Oesper via Groups.Io, <oesper=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:

One of the biggest challenges facing any dark-sky community is locating it within easy reach of high quality medical care. This is particularly important if the DSC is going to attract retirees.

As I consider where to locate Mirador Astronomy Village, I am wondering if there are any excellent hospitals in rural Arizona, New Mexico, or West Texas.

Dave

Re: Medical Care Considerations

David Oesper
 

Steve, I've just added a helipad to the spec document for Mirador. Thanks. I hope to complete the first draft this week and will be uploading it here for review and comment.

I found this site that should serve as a useful resource for any dark-sky community:

Rural Health Information Hub

Dave

New file uploaded to Dark-Sky-Communities@groups.io

Dark-Sky-Communities@groups.io Notification <Dark-Sky-Communities+notification@...>
 

Hello,

This email message is a notification to let you know that the following files have been uploaded to the Files area of the Dark-Sky-Communities@groups.io group.

Uploaded By: David Oesper <oesper@...>

Description:
Specifications document for Mirador Astronomy Village

Cheers,
The Groups.io Team

New file uploaded to Dark-Sky-Communities@groups.io

Dark-Sky-Communities@groups.io Notification <Dark-Sky-Communities+notification@...>
 

Hello,

This email message is a notification to let you know that the following files have been uploaded to the Files area of the Dark-Sky-Communities@groups.io group.

Uploaded By: David Oesper <oesper@...>

Description:
General site layout for Mirador Astronomy Village

Cheers,
The Groups.io Team

New file uploaded to Dark-Sky-Communities@groups.io

Dark-Sky-Communities@groups.io Notification <Dark-Sky-Communities+notification@...>
 

Hello,

This email message is a notification to let you know that the following files have been uploaded to the Files area of the Dark-Sky-Communities@groups.io group.

Uploaded By: David Oesper <oesper@...>

Description:
Figures referenced in the Mirador Astronomy Village specifications document

Cheers,
The Groups.io Team

Re: Mirador Astronomy Village

David Oesper
 

I just uploaded three documents pertaining to the Mirador Astronomy Village project. Please review at your convenience and I hope you will ask questions and offer suggestions, either here or privately. If you think a section can be better worded, feel free to reword it. If you find any typographical errors, please let me know. If you'd like to add an additional section or expand an existing one, please submit your paragraphs.

Many thanks,

David Oesper

Re: Mirador Astronomy Village

Steve Taylor
 

I suppose the first question is what sort of scale of scheme are you envisioning ?

Re: Mirador Astronomy Village

David Oesper
 

That's a very good question, Steve. The research done by British anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar (1947-) would suggest a community size of 100 to 250 should work well, with around 150 people being optimal, perhaps. That 150 number has even been given a name: "Dunbar's number".

Of course, the amount of land available for the project is going to put a limitation on how many people can comfortably live there.

Perhaps enough land should be purchased to accommodate, say, 150 residents and visitors. Is that overly ambitious for an astronomy-oriented community in the desert southwest? I don't know yet.

Ideally, the community would be built all at once. But if there are severe financial constraints, it might have to develop gradually. I think that the astro-tourism part of the community would have to be there early on, in order to provide an income stream for further development.

Dave

Re: Mirador Astronomy Village

Steve Taylor
 

One thing I'd add is a community workshop space.