Andersen Lane Cohousing

I've been  putting together a list of Retrofit Cohousing communities
for the 2015 National Cohousing Conference. It includes some failed
attempts which maybe we can learn from. I finally realized that one
attempt I was involved with early on (1994) should be included.
Andersen Lane Cohousing was a retrofit effort on a block in South

Searching for some published information about that attempt produced little.
I did find several Cohousing-L messages (below).  THere is a little
summary from memory at the end.
Re: Urban cohousing
From: Fred H. Olson WB0YQM (
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 94 09:55:43 CST

   Several of the households from the Seward Cohousing Group have joined
the Andersen Lane Cohousing Group (ALCG).  Since Oct of '93, 5
households have been meeting to plan the conversion of a 1.5 acre square
block of existing housing in a low income area of Minneapolis to
cohousing.  The site has 22 units in 12 buildings (1 to 4 units per
building) and an alley thru the middle. The changes would include
closing the alley to traffic, removing the garages and fences to make
common space, providing alternate peripheral parking and converting or
building common facilities.


Re: Converting existing housing to Cohousing
From: Fred H Olson WB0YQM (
Date: Wed, 4 May 94 08:41 CDT

On Tue, 3 May 94 14:34 CDT,
Stephen Hawthorne   wrote:

>Fred:  Who owns the alley?  We had some luck in closing undeveloped city
>right of ways in our neighborhood by requesting the city to deed over the
>right of way to the bordering property owners.  Could you get the alley
>closed or deeded over to your group or the current residents?

>Stephen Hawthorne
>Blue Heron Partners
>Chatham County, NC

Closing the alley involves a number of issues but generally if adjacent
owners agree we would expect to get it vacated and the alley would revert
to the adjacent landowner (split down the middle).  We dont anticipate
removing the concrete at least initially and would probably keep
it useable for emergency (fire) and utility access.

There is timing problem associated with the alley.  Many of us feel
vacating the alley is a key item for the project and would be reluctant
to buy property on the block before we were assured that the alley was to
be closed.  On the other hand, until we own the properties the alley
cant be closed.  So we need to get assurances that if the properties
are acquired it will be closed and the purchase agreements on the
houses will probably be contingent on acquiring all the others.
It gets to be a big problem to orchestrate.

jmetzler [at] wrote:
>You might also look to the Dutch concept of the "Woonerf" as a
>designed place which allows both people and cars to coexist safely.
>If you needed to retain the alley, the concepts could be used to treat it
>more as a pedestrian domain where automobiles were clearly
>visitors needing to be on their best behavior.

Interesting.  I think I have heard of something like this but hadn't
thought of it in relation to our proposal for Andersen Lane.  Indeed the
alternate way to deal with cars is a problem.
Fred H. Olson   fholson [at]     Sysop of COHOUSING-L mailing list
1221 Russell Av N; Minneapolis, MN 55411        voice: (612) 588-9532
WB0YQM  146.64 MHz with DTMF Selcall: 233 ;        FAX by arrangement


Re: Retrofit Cohousing / terminology
From: Jeffrey O. Hobson (
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 94 10:20 CDT

Fred, could you elaborate on the things you've learned about how NOT to do it.

Fred Olson recently wrote:
[ in msg at ]

> [Retrofit cohousing] would be a fair general description of . . . our (now
> defunct) proposal for Andersen Lane in Minneapolis.


> We at Andersen Lane have already learned some things about how not to do
> retrofit cohousing.

Jeffrey Hobson                                    N Street Cohousing
dcn00109 [at]         Davis Energy Group


I could not find a reply to Jeff's request...  But I did come across the
following message.


RE: Written rules: No cause to leave
From: Kevin Wolf (
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 94 15:14 CDT

Yeah for Rob Sandelin's post on sticking with it when getting co-housing
started (or anything for that manner).  We as individuals can make change
happen, it takes time, patience and stubbed toes.  Thanks for writing
this out Rob.

Kevin Wolf
724 N St
Davis, CA 95616
phone and fax: 916-758-4211


April 8.2015

I think this last message summarizes a major reason why Andersen Lane
Cohousing did not happen.  We lacked the commitment to proceed and
overcome the inability to acquire a number of properties at the beginning
which would assure the ability to close the alley.

Independently over the years I have come to the conclusion that alleys
have a major advantage of giving access across the alley to neighbors
lots even if not closed. Pursuing the "Woonerf" - traffic calming
approach - to an alley seems like a reasonable alternative.

Fred Olson

This page is maintained by Fred H Olson. Fred's Link page