Taproot Co-op closes on its first deal

By Ann Juergens

Taproot, the fledgling real estate investment cooperative in south St. Anthony Park, has closed on its first deal.

After a year of gathering community support and building organizational infrastructure, Taproot on April 8 loaned $300,000 to Red Stone Corner LLC to support the purchase of Baker Court, the historic former school building.

Built in 1909 and extensively renovated in the 1980s, Baker Court is the striking red brick façade at the intersection of Raymond Avenue and Territorial Road. It is the oldest former public school building still standing in St. Anthony Park.

Taproot aims to allow community members to invest in commercial real estate that benefits the community while offering a modest return on their investment. The nonprofit group’s primary goals are to:

• Prevent small businesses from being priced out when their rental spaces are sold,

• Support community-based shared ownership of buildings where local businesses can flourish,

• Encourage sustainable management practices and promote the economic vitality of the area’s Creative Enterprise Zone.

Taproot leaders learned that the long-time owners of Baker Court were prepared to sell and jumped at the opportunity.

Red Stone Corner is a new community-minded LLC whose principal intends to preserve the former school building for small owner-operated service businesses—
including therapists, other healers and architects—as tenants.

Before Red Stone Corner and Taproot joined forces, the building and its surrounding land were being touted by its sellers as an “apartment development opportunity.” Its location near the Raymond Avenue Green Line station made the site attractive for a developer intent on constructing a high-rise structure that would likely have been unaffordable for most neighbors.

Taproot made its loan to Red Stone Corner secured by a second mortgage.

“The building needs to be preserved,” said Taproot Board Vice Chair Nkuli Shongwe. “It is beautiful and reminds us of our history, yet is still very functional. Its tenants contribute to the community with their work.

“We want to build generational wealth with our neighbors using community ownership models. Our investment will safeguard this building in the community for decades to come.”

To learn more about community real estate investing and how to become a Taproot member, visit taprootinvestment.com. 

Ann Juergens is the chairperson of the Taproot Investment Cooperative.

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