MADISON (WKOW) — The Zoe Bayliss Housing Cooperative has existed in the same building at the corner of Park and Johnson Streets since 1955. But next fall, UW-Madison will raze that building to make way for the new Humanities Building. This means that the members of the cooperative had been looking for a new home for over a year.
Angela Maloney, former co-op president and current strategic planning manager, said at times she worried that Madison’s “crazy” real estate market could prevent her organization from finding a new home.
This issue became even more pressing when co-op members voted to reject the university’s bid for new premises.
“It would significantly reduce our size and significantly increase our rents,” Maloney said. For a co-op focused on providing affordable housing for students, it was a failure.
But the Zoe Bayliss community’s search for a new home is now over. The co-op is working with the Madison Community Cooperative and will move into the house at 636 Langdon St.
“This house is really our lifeline,” Maloney said. “We have guarantees in our new home that the only way to leave this home would be if we as a home voted that we no longer wanted to live there.”
Currently, 48 women are part of the co-op and live in the building on W. Johnson Street. The new house can accommodate 43 people.
“It’s not that big of a change,” said Zoe Bayliss co-op vice president Ishita Arora. “Of course, like, ultimately, like we’d like to have unlimited affordable housing, but that still keeps our numbers going, whereas with other options, we’d have to downsize incredibly to the point where we couldn’t work the same way.”
Although the co-op will function essentially the same in the new building, there will be one major change. For the first time, students who attend colleges or universities other than UW-Madison will be able to join the co-op and move into the house.
Maloney said MCC is currently working on renovating the new home and that co-op members will officially move in at the start of the next school year. But before that, the community of Zoe Bayliss strives to cherish their dwindling time in their longtime home.
“It was great to see visitors come back like the old ones,” Arora said. “They take one last look around the building.”
And Maloney said she and other members are considering how to preserve some of the countless memories made in their current home over the past seven decades.
“We thought of ways to bring this house with us to the new house in some way,” she said. “So our wall that everyone painted on, we want to take a really good picture of it and try to frame it so we can put it in the new house.”
Maloney and Arora said co-op members will spend the next few months fundraising to pay for expenses related to moving personal belongings such as beds, sofas and dining tables to the new home.