Two new housing co-ops for Stevens Square?

In a move to counter a condo influx, the nonprofit Plymouth Congregational Church Foundation hopes to convert two Stevens Square apartment buildings into limited equity co-operatives. Such a move would allow residents to collectively own the buildings, which the foundation wouldn’t identify because the purchase hasn’t closed yet.

Right now, some Stevens Square residents are interested informally, foundation spokeswoman Lee Blons said, though no formal process has been set about how the co-op will function and who will live there. An information meeting will be held Tuesday, June 14, 6:30 p.m., at the Clinton apartments 1920 4th Ave. S.

That’s also the day the foundation’s purchases are scheduled to close.

Blons said the group’s goal is to preserve affordable housing so residents who make somewhere around $18,000 a year can build equity – in a community that is 95 percent rental. The foundation will fix up historic brownstones with input from the Stevens Square Community Organization, she added.

Like shareholders in the stock market, a co-op allows residents, called members (not owners), to own a piece of the property while they lease a unit. "They are half-owner, half-tenant," Blons said.

The concept is frequently seen in New York City, though there are few local co-ops, and some have struggled financially. North Country Co-op’s property on 44th Street & Nicollet Avenue in Kingfield is one of the newer Southwest co-ops.

Blons said the foundation would run one co-op to begin with, to gain experience, before converting the second property.