Follow your dreams

A star from the Spring Parade of Homes boasts Bde Maka Ska views

second-floor bathroom
A glassy second-floor bathroom overlooks the front lawn. Submitted photo

Mom and dad always told you to follow your dreams, right?

Well, even if they didn’t, you’ll be fine if you follow your Spring Parade of Homes map to home No. 42, 3810 Sheridan Ave. S., barely a half block off the south shore of Bde Maka Ska.

For $1.9 million your dreams could include 3,800 square feet of bright open space, stylish hardwood flooring, three bedrooms, three baths, a two-car heated garage, an elevator, a maybe two-and-a-half season screen porch with its own fireplace and a user-friendly array of technology.

In late February the builder, City Homes LLC, was furiously preparing the home, custom built for Ellyn Wolfenson and Michael Belzer in advance of traffic from the Spring Parade. City Homes’ partner, Chris Malooly, nursing a bit of a cold in deep winter, gave a tour, emphasizing that “custom” in this case meant a design suitable for a 50-something couple to age in place. He could have added, “very comfortably.”

The age of the clients in this case is reflected not just in the open kitchen/living room area that greets everyone entering through the front door but the wide staircases, abundant glass and comparatively understated deployment of the latest technical gewgaws.

master suite
The home’s second floor will be used almost entirely as a master suite. Submitted photos

As Malooly explained while showing off the glassy second-floor bathroom overlooking the front lawn, “The only real ‘smart tech’ we have here are things like the wireless blinds, so [the owner] can have privacy while she’s in the tub and plenty of sunlight when she’s not.

“The home really has been designed for a generation that didn’t grow up with their phone in their hand all the time. The younger generation, people in their 30s, want that more. [The owners] didn’t.

“They understand tech gadgetry well enough. But they’ve lived most of their lives without a lot of the so-called smart stuff, where you run everything off your phone, and they don’t see any real need for it now.”

That said, the home has a sound system, innumerable small LED lights overhead and on stairway walls, security cameras and plenty of TVs.

The direction for the second floor was for it to be used almost entirely as a master suite. The main staircase — one of the few areas other than the handsomely finished basement (with guest bedroom and bath) that is carpeted — delivers you to the elevator door and a small, sunlit, west-facing office. In addition to the bath, there’s a voluminous walk-in closet and washer/dryer laundry bay. Off the master bedroom is a small deck with a quite pleasant view out over the lake toward the downtown skyline. (All that is also visible from the tub if you want to buzz the electric blinds back up.)

main staircase
The main staircase is one of the few areas other than the finished basement that is carpeted.

Did we mention the wine cooler directly outside the bath?

Some old school stuff beats “smart” all to heck.

“The difference between this home and others we build in this price range is fewer bedrooms,” Malooly said. “Normally in a building like this you’d be looking at maybe five bedrooms and as many baths. But because this is a somewhat older but still very active couple, there’s more of an emphasis on comfort.

“It’s a luxurious space, ideal for them and for entertaining, with just enough extra room for occasional guests.”

If you’re wondering, and we know you are, the lot didn’t come cheap.

“Land cost was $650,000,” said Malooly. “That’s not unusual for this area.”

The in-home elevator — a cozy two-person affair — retails for $30,000–$40,000. But he said it has demonstrable resale value for future buyers also in the mood to “age in place.”

The exterior, with mountains of snow and construction equipment banked up against it, is a fairly modest, modern, vaguely Scandinavian exercise in primary white and … lots of glass.

“They very much wanted something unique, something that didn’t look like every other new construction going up around town,” Malooly explained.

So no “cottage” effects, no repeating waves of gables and no pyramidal support pillars.

The main floor’s kitchen area naturally features not one but two service islands, with high-end built-in appliances and a pantry tucked away around the corner — out of view of whoever might be enjoying the living area fireplace or screened-in porch.


A built-in espresso machine caught our eye. Knowing how often those things clog up and have to be serviced, we wondered how practical that really was? At which point Malooly pressed a latch and the entire unit slid out.

“Just release it here,” he said, “and the whole unit can be removed and serviced.”

Oh, okay. Never mind.

Looking back at the main area, he said, “We call it a ‘living kitchen’. As everyone knows by now, you have friends over and where does everyone congregate? The kitchen. So the idea is to blend everything together in the most comfortable and convenient way possible.”

“But,” continued Malooly, “we had to talk them into the screen porch.”

He pushes on the very solid, three-section sliding thermal door (from Marvin Windows), slowly disappearing it completely into a recessed wall pocket. Open, as it could be for several months a year, it adds another 600 or so square feet (plus another fireplace and TV) to the main area. Closed, the gas-filled thermal pane doors effectively seal off the worst of Minnesota winters.

Malooly said City Homes is currently building “about a dozen” homes a year and that doors like those “are becoming very common.”

Or at least common enough you can dream on them.