History of the Masala Cooperative

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The Masala Co-op was the first house in the Boulder Housing Coalition Co-op system.

Early History

The house at 744 Marine Street was originally built around the turn of the 20th century, by Joseph Bevier Sturtevant, also known as Rocky Mountain Joe. Sturtevant was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1851 and came to Boulder after a failed apprenticeship as a broom maker, a long stint with a traveling circus, several years in the Cavalry during the Civil War, and two years as a prisoner of the Sioux Nation. He was known as a frontiersman, storyteller and photographer. He raised 5 children in Boulder with his wife Anna Lyckman. Since Rocky Mountain Joe's time, many physical additions have been made to the house. It now has 11 bedrooms on four levels, including the attic and basement rooms.

Slovo Equity Co-op

In 1994, eighty-four years after Rocky Mountain Joe's death, nine Boulder residents including future Boulder mayor Will Toor collectively purchased the 744 Marine Street property and organized the Slovo Cooperative as an equity co-op. In 1999, the Slovo residents decided to sell the house, but wanted it to remain a cooperative. Tony Sanny worked with NASCO Properties to buy the house, and the new Masala Co-op was born.

University of Colorado Student Co-op Referendum

The plan was to build a non-profit that would use the referendum money in combination with university loans to buy Masala from NASCO and start the first student cooperative housing system in Colorado. The Student Government, the Treasurer of the University, the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, two members of the Board of Regents and all the top university financial brass supported the plan. However, we still needed the support of the President’s office in order to go before the Board of Regents for final approval. The lawyer for the president’s office would not sign off on the plan. For liability reasons, she favored a plan that would give complete control of the Co-op system to the University, so that sucked. For all practical purposes, the university co-op project was dead. So we went for another city grant & got it ...May of 2002, the Boulder Housing Coalition purchased Masala, the first permanently affordable rental cooperative in the state of Colorado. In 2004, the BHC purchased our second permanently affordable rental cooperative and created the first affordable co-op housing system in Colorado. The Chrysalis Cooperative is a 4-unit, 13-bedroom house located at 2127 16th Street. It is home to a mix of low-income singles and families and it has been in continuous operation since its opening. In short, we rock! Many people have worked hard to build this co-op system & we're very proud of it!