Projects - Ninth Street Co-op

Ninth Street Co-op
After 28 years as an independent housing co-op, on January 1, 2015, the Ninth Street Co-op became a BACLT project. After a year of discussing the pros and cons, the members voted unanimously to sign a ground lease and officially affiliate with the land trust. Ninth Street Co-op members believe that partnering with BACLT will ensure that the co-op will adequately maintain the property, that the units will remain permanently affordable to lower income people, and that the property will be well-managed far into the future, even after current residents move out. Many co-ops do very well as long as the original founders and long-time residents remain involved, but often as time goes on and all the units turn over, problems arise and more assistance is needed. BACLT can provide oversight and make sure that the co-op’s mission is continued over the long-term.

A portion of the co-op’s land was donated to BACLT, and the co-op signed a ground lease with BACLT for 99 years. This was done in a way that avoids an increase in property taxes due to a transfer of property. In exchange for a small monthly “ground rent” fee, BACLT provides financial review, technical assistance, and other services to the co-op. We believe this is an arrangement that could be beneficial to other independent co-ops, and we encourage other co-ops to contact us to discuss the potential benefits of partnering with a land trust.

What is Ninth Street Co-op?

The 9th Street Co-op is a five-unit Limited Equity Housing Co-op (LEHC) in West Berkeley, with 8 members. It was a privately-owned rental property from the time it was built in the 1940’s until 1986, when the tenants purchased the property from the landlord, with technical assistance from the nonprofit Resources for Community Development (RCD). The units were all one-bedroom apartments, and there are also four garages. However, recently one of the members had a baby, and one of the units was remodeled into a two-bedroom unit to accommodate their expanding family, with an additional bedroom for the baby that the co-op is calling “our newest cooperator” (his real name is Diego Antonio, for the record). In order to create a larger apartment, the apartment next door was remodeled into a studio apartment, which also makes that apartment smaller and more affordable to lower-income households in the future. Ninth Street Co-op has put a lot of money into upgrading the units, as there was significant deferred maintenance left by the landlord at the time residents bought the property. Rents have stabilized over the past several years, with only occasional increases. Rents range from $430 to $690 a month. New residents pay a “share value” (similar to a down payment) of approximately $5500 to buy into the co-op.

In the year 2004, they were able to refinance the property in order to install solar photo-voltaic electricity and dual-paned insulated windows in all the units. This greatly increased the energy efficiency in the units and significantly reduced gas and electric bills. The co-op consists of three small buildings organized in a “U” shape around a large central lawn area. Ninth Street Co-op also has large vegetable gardens with year-round produce, as well as many fruit trees. They also have a chicken coop with ten hens producing delicious eggs! Members also have their own private backyards and gardens. Members do most of the routine maintenance and landscaping, and each member spends a few hours a month doing garden and maintenance tasks. BACLT welcomes Ninth Street into the land trust, and we are excited about working together into the future!