Grounded, a neighborhood-focused development company, is a welcome bright spot in our area’s development with steady success and a positive vision for infill development and investment in Curtis Park and Oak Park.
Grounded business partners Micah Baginski and Sam Allen describe themselves as “Neighbors, Rebels, Builders, and Dreamers.” They say, “Our mission is to build a better city by focusing on where we live.” The company has been involved with finding locations for businesses on Broadway. It also builds and sells single-family properties in Oak Park and Curtis Park. They are currently building a single-family residence designed for historic accuracy in the Craftsman style on a formerly vacant lot on 32nd Street.
Micah and Sam describe combined visions of “planned land use in an urban neighborhood and selling a place as well as a house.”
In 2016, Grounded purchased a house with a double lot on Castro Way. The company restored and expanded the existing house. Micah and his wife, Emily, built a Craftsman Style home on the other lot.
In October, they threw what was possibly the biggest move-in party in Curtis Park history. Micah and Emily knocked on neighbors’ doors with an invitation to drop by for a taco and beer. Approximately 300 people stopped by to meet them and view their new house. Channel 10 covered the event as a neighborhood news item. Quite a way to introduce themselves as new Curtis Park neighbors.
Future plans call for construction of a mixed-use building on a long vacant lot at 34th Street and Third Avenue. Sam described living in the midst of the same area they work in as “hyper local.” The “Grounded” name was intended to reflect this, with sensitivity to the neighborhood’s history and sense of place.
Micah and Sam grew up in the Sacramento area, and Micah has longtime family connections to Oak Park. His family has lived in Oak Park since before World War II. Micah studied construction management while Sam studied landscape architecture in college. Sam’s senior thesis focused on how to revitalize Oak Park, in part through building homes on available lots, business investment and community services.
Grounded’s office is on Third Avenue in Oak Park. They appreciate the neighborhood for its abundance of trees, a big park, a walkable business district and historic architecture. They envision Oak Park having an active commercial core while addressing some of its challenges, such as vacant lots and absentee owners.
Sam and Micah both lived in Oak Park for more than 13 years. Sam and his wife, Lea, continue to reside in Oak Park.
Grounded’s future plans envision building and selling more homes in the area and possibly a commercial project on Franklin Boulevard.
By Erik Fay, Viewpoint staff
Photo/Erik Fay: Grounded owners, from left, Emily and Micah Baginski, Sam and Lea Allen hang out on the porch at the Baginskis’ new house on Castro Way.