Baugruppen Inquiries

Over the last few weeks, we’ve received a number of inquiries and talked with a few jurisdictions about baugruppen, self-developed multifamily housing.

We are big proponents of non-market housing – including cooperatives, cohousing, and baugruppen – and have spent the last few years trying to develop one ourselves. We have long believed they are a means of creating community-oriented, family-friendly multigenerational housing – that is of higher quality and lower cost – over what traditional development can produce. They range in scale from small multifamily buildings like triplexes or rowhouses, to large and complex mid-rise projects.

There are several levers that can be utilized to reduce the costs of this form of housing. The biggest lever is the elimination of developer profit and marketing. However, there are policies that could be implemented around land to further reduce costs. Some cities in Germany hold competitions for these building groups – selling the land at cost or even below market rate to the winners. Land policies, in addition to land use, are one area where there is much to be learned from planning regimes in other countries. In 2018, Washington passed a policy allowing surplus land to be utilized for affordable housing, with the Seattle Council passing legislation to enable this at the local level shortly thereafter. 

If you are interested in learning a little more about baugruppen, check out Larch Lab founder Michael Eliason’s presentation on the subject at Ignite Seattle #33.

If you are interested in discussing the development of community-oriented housing, or are a jurisdiction interested in prioritizing decarbonized family-friendly housing, please contact us.