By Southwester Staff

The year 2020 marks the centennial of D.C.’s first housing cooperatives, commonly referred to as “co-ops.” Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a proclamation congratulating the housing cooperatives in D.C. “…for their tremendous contributions to our world-class and culturally diverse city.” One of the lesser-known stories of the city is the success of co-op housing. The District is second only to New York City in the concentration of housing co-ops. Owned and controlled by the people who live in them, co-ops are meant to engender a strong sense of community, with a focus on owner occupancy and participation of members in how the co-op is managed and administered. 

To celebrate this milestone, the D.C. Cooperative Housing Coalition (Coalition) has released a 15-minute video entitled “The Good Life: 100 Years of Housing Cooperatives in Washington, D.C., 1920- 2020,” chronicling the 100-year history and contributions of co-ops in the city. Southwest housing cooperatives Harbor Square (constructed in 1966), River Park (constructed in 1965), and Tiber Island (constructed in 1965 and converted from rental to co-op in 1982) were among the Coalition’s founding member cooperatives in 1984. Capitol Hill Tower (2006) is also a member. A book is also being written to document the history. The video can be viewed at here

In addition to the video, the Coalition will mark this year’s milestone with a series of special events including a day-long Smithsonian Associates tour of D.C. co-ops on May 2 and discounted tickets to Arena Stage’s “Toni Stone” for May 30.

A co-op is a building that is owned by a housing cooperative corporation, which in turn is owned and controlled by the members of the cooperative, usually through a shareholder agreement. Each member’s share of that ownership gives that person (or persons) the right to live in a specific apartment within the building, or complex of buildings, which are operated and maintained by the co-op association for the benefit of its resident-members—and in the long term, for the healthy ongoing existence of the cooperative.

D.C.’s housing cooperatives represent a cumulative valuation of nearly $3 billion according to D.C.’s Office of Taxation and Revenues, with Harbour Square (4th), Capitol Hill Tower (7th), River Park (8th), and Tiber Island (9th) among the top ten most expensive housing valuations. The Westchester near The Washington National Cathedral has the highest valuation at $158 million.

Editor’s note: Dates of performances at Arena Stage may have been postponed or canceled due the Covid-19 outbreak. Find more information here.

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