Peddling a Pedal-Friendly Co-Op in Marshall Square
For a closer look at the house, launch the photo gallery »
List Price: See Price Points below
The Property: In a part of Little Village known as Marshall Square, a vintage, six-unit greystone is cooperatively owned by a bicyclist-friendly group. Home for Urban Bikers (HUB) bought the building in 2005, and since then its residents have carved out a do-it-yourself haven: digging up pavement in a side lot to create gardens, building a fire pit out of an old cement mixer, and fashioning a smoker from a discarded hospital crash cart. They also constructed cooperative bike and wood shops in the greystone’s basement.
The cooperative’s goal in buying the building was to create “an intentionally affordable community,” says Sarah Kaplan, who with her husband, Sam Van Dellen, is now selling the top-floor rear unit, a 900-square-foot studio. They plan to spend a year driving around the country in their outfitted van looking for a place to settle with their toddler, Henry.
In today’s video, Van Dellen says that the building’s location on historic Marshall Boulevard gives the home a “nice deep ‘front yard’ to play in that you never have to mow or take care of.” That’s the city’s job. And thanks to that city-maintained boulevard, traffic passes a full 60 feet away from the house.
Kaplan—like her husband and co-op colleagues, a dedicated “transportation cyclist”—points out that the cultural and social life of Logan Square is only a 30-minute bike ride away. “Even though there’s not all that Logan Square stuff to go to here,” Van Dellen adds, “it’s much more chill.”
Inside, daylight streams into the unit from a row of tall south-facing windows and the skylights that punctuate the building’s green roof. Underfoot is soft cork flooring, which Kaplan says has saved a few dropped dishes, as well as cushioning Henry when he took one of his inevitable tumbles while learning to walk. “Thank you, cork floor,” she jokes in the video.
True to the DIY attitude of this co-op, the couple installed the cork floor and the many storage cabinets, as well as performing other finish work. Initially the space was going to be an enormous master suite for the residence one flight down; by the time the cooperative ownership turned it into a separate unit in 2008, it already had a partially finished bath. Kaplan and Van Dellen retained the big soaking tub and created a family-size bathroom around it. Next to that is the kitchen area, which they also finished. Its worktop counter is at one end of the long studio, looking across dining, living, and bedroom areas to those big windows. It also has a large west-facing window with views out over the historical homes of the neighborhood and, the couple tells me, nice sunsets.
Price Points: The sellers are asking $4,900 for their share in the co-op. That’s less than half what they paid for the share, Kaplan says. Ownership of that share then requires a monthly payment of $1,001.52 toward the cooperative’s mortgage of approximately $571,000 on the six-unit building. This home is the smallest in the building, which the co-operative bought for $470,000 in 2005. Because of the group’s desire to keep the housing affordable, it’s imposed an annual growth cap of 3 percent on prices of its units. That’s not a difficult rule to maintain now, when prices are largely down or growing less than that, but it was a key point when the group was priced out of North Side neighborhoods during the boom. The building is well maintained, with all new windows, furnaces, water heaters, and tuck-pointing.
Listing Agent: The couple are selling the space themselves; contact Sam Van Dellen at email@example.com.
CORRECTION: We have updated the copy to correct the number of units in the building and the amount of its mortgage on the building.
Posted in On the Market