- Livable board members Conicia Jackson and Nick Clark at the Thetford property
Livable has signed a contract to buy a mobile home, a single-family home and a three-unit home in the village center, said Nick Clark, who cofounded the co-op last fall. The properties, listed together at $474,000, are part of a parcel that includes Wings Market & Deli, a grocery store that is also for sale but not part of the purchase. The housing is all currently leased, Clark said on Tuesday. The co-op's purchase will ensure that the units remain housing.
“If someone wanted to build a Dollar General and take down the triplex to increase parking, these units could be lost,” Clark said, adding that the co-op will also ensure they’re not turned into short-term rentals, which is common in the area.
Clark, 34, a freelance web developer who is president of the Hanover Food Co-op board, created Livable last fall to do something about the housing crisis. The crisis makes it difficult for families to move to the area and suppresses hiring, he said.
"Long-term, [Livable] has to be financially sustainable, but nobody involved in this thinks we're going to get rich and pass off huge returns to investors," he said.
Clark and his partners initially thought they would focus on creating accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, at existing homes. They still plan to do so, he said, but he views the purchase as an opportunity to start securing housing.
The deal isn’t expected to be final until November. Meanwhile, Livable is working to arrange financing from the Cooperative Fund of the Northeast, a Massachusetts lender that works specifically with cooperative enterprises.
To raise a 20 percent down payment, Clark has created a membership drive for the co-op. He's asking community members to invest in return for equity and a right to vote when decisions are made.
He said the co-op’s goal is to create small-scale development.
“We’re trying to leverage the assets that community members already own," he said. “Our focus isn’t commercial development or big apartment buildings.”