Committed to Community: Residents at Gramercy Park shape where they live while pursuing their interests


In the summer, residents enjoy socializing on the patio; members grill, play cards and explore the grounds together.

A bright floral garden welcomes residents into the co-op.

Gramercy Park residents enjoy one of the cooperative’s common spaces. Clockwise from top left: Gail Moller, Connie Kempf, Ruth Jerikovsky, George McPhillips, Joyce Stedt and Spencer Kempf.

Members learn new things every day by serving on committees, strolling the grounds with neighbors and using the facilities to continue lifelong hobbies 

 

Joyce Stedt, who moved to Gramercy Park Cooperative in July, has a hard time deciding what she likes most about her new home.

In January, it’s the heated underground parking garage; she can run a quick errand without spending more than 10 seconds outside. In August, it’s socializing with other residents on the patio and taking advantage of the extensive grounds. 

“We’ve had picnics outdoors, and grilling, You feel welcome,” she explains. 

Adds her husband, George McPhillips, “Here, it seems like everybody’s got an oar and they know we’re all pulling together.”

Gramercy is a cooperative, meaning that residents serve on committees and make decisions on everything from birthday celebrations to building maintenance. 

Joyce, who serves on the Social Committee, keeps an impressive mental calendar of upcoming events: fundraisers, lunches on the town, a St. Patrick’s Day party. Although most people choose to join at least one committee, there’s no pressure. Residents feel that they can do their own thing, knowing they have a support system if needed. 

Spencer and Connie Kempf moved in this past August and have already found a number of ways to be involved. 

“I’m on two committees: the Finance Committee, and I’m also on a small committee working on a building and grounds project,” explains Spencer. “Making a contribution to the cooperative is a lot of fun and very interesting. I’m learning new stuff almost every day.”

Building & Grounds Committee members recently secured a grant from Dakota County to convert two acres into Minnesota prairie right in their backyard. Because of the building’s 10-acre lot, residents are able to have the best of both worlds: they’re a stone’s throw from shops and restaurants, but feel like they’re in the countryside.

“About six weeks ago, I looked out my window and there was a doe that was right at our front door,” Spencer recalls. “I thought it was going to come in!”

“It’s gorgeous out there,” adds Joyce. “You can see the deer come up at night. I’ve seen deer and I’ve seen a fox.” 

In addition to the 10.5 acres, Gramercy’s inside amenities include a fitness center, a library, a woodshop, two guest rooms and a small convenience store called Gram’s Pantry. 

“George used the shop yesterday with my lamp!” jokes Joyce — after a light bulb exploded, her husband had to make some minor repairs to the lampstand. 

“It’s very well-equipped down there,” says George. “Anybody would envy that woodshop.”

Spencer is also a regular in the woodshop, repairing furniture and undertaking woodworking projects in his spare time. One thing residents love about Gramercy is the fact that they have the structure and facilities to continue engaging in meaningful work. 

For Spencer, that means working in the woodshop and learning new skills on the Finance Committee. For Joyce, it means putting on events where all can feel welcome. For George, it means repairing Joyce’s lamp, as well as getting to know his neighbors.

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