Architect as Developer: Construction Begins at Logan Certified


Construction has begun on our new development project in Logan Square: a mixed use commercial/retail and loft apartment at 2857 West Diversey Avenue. Read below for the building amenities and why we decided to launch the development side of our business and begin developing our own projects.

My mom kept every single one of my report cards in a memory book that also included a list of who my best friends were, hobbies, etc. I don’t recall writing this, but since first grade, in the section asking ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’, I wrote ‘architect.’ And here we are. Since Laura and I founded Moss Design in 2008, our business has expanded into general contracting, custom furniture, graphics and even journalism (or blogging, you decide). But the long term plan was always to develop our own building projects. During my studies, Ted Smith, the father of innovative San Diego architecture and design-build, and Jonathan Segal (San Diego’s most popular architect/builder) influenced me greatly. Ted had already been developing his own buildings for years, finding ways to inhabit the gray areas of the zoning ordinance to create high-density residential projects (now referred to as TOD in Chicago). It was under the tutelage of these two visionaries that I realized we can and should be developers.

Moving from architect to architect/general contractor and now evolving to real estate development seemed to be the natural next step in our business growth strategy. We understand the entire building process, from acquiring building permits, creating budgets, site analysis, construction and design, and this knowledge creates the foundation for design-focused development to unfold, one which is growth-conscious but also maintains design integrity. We understand the value of good design and we had the desire for more control over the location, construction and budget for entire projects. Acting within this model we’re able to engage our passion for design while having more freedom and ownership over the entire building process. An architect as developer.



Our new project—Logan Certified (the former name of this food & liquor repository at 2857 West Diversey Avenue)—will serve as our first foray into completing the development process from start to finish, an endeavor we are extremely excited about. Not only will it represent a large milestone for our small business, it will also provide the flexibility necessary for our expanding needs. So like any good mullet, we’ll have some serious business space in the front and some party-worthy flex space in the back, separated by a newly created courtyard. Best of all you, yes YOU (!), can be part of it. We’ll have some space available to rent. A ground floor commercial space perfectly equipped for makers, designers or retailers in addition to a second story apartment that exemplifies all the green principals underscoring our design portfolio. Our amenities breakdown below goes into some specifics.



Logan Certified represents a culmination of sorts for us, from a client-based design and construction operation to a multi-faceted business that is able to explore every avenue of project development. We know that with good fortune and help from all of the amazing people on our team, this new frontier will strengthen and inform our approach on future projects, whether built for ourselves or for our clients. True to our love of adaptive reuse, we are keeping the good bones of the building, (e.g., not tearing it down) and salvaging any quality materials, like the original tin ceiling we found inside. The more we can reuse the existing building as part of its contemporary iteration, the more we can reduce the needless waste of materials. The interior will be fully rehabbed and encompass our new office space and a second commercial storefront unit available to rent come Spring. We’ll be topping off a portion of the building with a second floor addition: a lofted apartment complete with a private deck and entry available for residential tenants.

The allowable floor area for our property is limited to 1.2 (known as the FAR, or Floor Area Ratio), so we removed floor area from the least desirable portion of the building and added it to the second floor, which became the apartment. The removal of the first floor area creates a courtyard that will filter light into what would be the darkest parts of the building and allows for passive cooling as each unit will now have access to light and air on two sides. The mass of the second floor addition has been optimized to collect the southern sun for solar panels and overhangs to protect the northern windows. Open green space will be provided in the shared courtyard, as well as on the roof at the rear portion of the building.
MAP OF LOCAL NEIGHBORHOOD BUSINESSES    THE NEIGHBORHOOD                                                                                                                                Logan Square is a vibrant neighborhood and can often feel like a small town unto itself, complete with everything you could ever want. It has amazing coffee, decadent (and diner) food, the second best farmer’s market in the city (Green City wins) and a wonderful community. Its green space is unique, too, flanked by its stately boulevards which make fine winter and summer scapes and with Humboldt Park not far off, one of Chicago’s most stunning parks. Logan Square is one of the neighborhoods that best exemplifies what makes Chicago great. It is alive in the summertime, stuffed with festivals and events; and cozy and serene in the wintertime, where a warm bar and a movie is just footsteps away. After being involved in a now–Logan Square staple, The Dill Pickle (we designed the space of this community co-op, which opened in 2009 and their new space on Milwaukee Avenue coming this summer), we couldn’t be more excited to join the other small businesses in the neighborhood such as Gaslight, Uncharted Books and Wolfbait. As a property owner with tenants, being onsite rather than an absentee property owner, we can establish a relationship with the tenants and be involved with the community. We plan to advocate for more green space, as we have been doing for (PARK)ing Day (link) and with Intelligentsia this spring.



DETAILED PLANS Corner Commercial Office or Retail | Sustainable Features & Amenities:

  • New north facing storefront glazing and entry
  • New west facing, Low E-3 windows
  • Original tin ceiling
  • Mop | utility sink
  • Solid wood Subfloor
  • Exit signs and emergency lights
  • Accessible restroom
  • 200A/1P electrical service
  • 95% efficient furnace

Loft Apartment | Sustainable Features & Amenities:

  • Reclaimed hardwood floors (a moss favorite)
  • Tankless water heater
  • Low VOC paint
  • In-unit washer | dryer
  • Kitchen with range, dishwasher, microwave
  • Tiled shower
  • Private entry and stairway
  • Large north facing glass | fully optimized for natural daylighting
  • Lofted office | guest room
  • High performance thermal insulation
  • North | South roof overhangs (for passive design)
  • Private deck



  • Did you consider applying for a zoning change so you could build more residential units?

    • Always a consideration, but if there is a path for a viable project without dealing with a zoning change I think its best to take that path. I got the sense that the likelihood for a rezone was low and a 4 unit project is a perfect size for our first development.

      This does bring me back to something I’ve been advocating for; that the City can and should up-zone properties to encourage more density where it is appropriate. Thus lowering the barriers for developers to build more units by-right. The entire City is artificially zoned at too low a density.

      Between negotiating the purchase of the property and trying to formulate a project design, there is little time to wait for a rezone to be approved. We’ll see if we made the right choice ;).

      • How many units does this building have? From what I gather in the article there are two commercial units and one apartment.
        I really like the layout of the apartment.

        What does the loft space look like?

        • Three commercial and one residential (which is the second floor apartment). We are renting two (one commercial and one residential) out to tenants.

          Thanks! The apartment is the entirety of the second floor addition. The roof pitches up to the center to provide a small loft space. So ceiling height varies from about 10′ to 16′ tall.

  • Dana

    It will be a blessing to finally see this property renovated. I’ve owned my building, I block north, since 1984 and love this neighborhood. I remember when it was Edmunds Food Store, everyone I knew went shopping there. Best wishes for success!

  • Ed Luna

    As a relatively new Logan Square resident, I’ve walked past this building dozens of times (sometimes on the way to Masa Azul—a real neighborhood gem) and wondered about the proliferation of empty or seemingly occupied but never-open storefronts along this stretch of Diversey Ave. So it’s great to see the trend start to turn the other way, with a visionary team that clearly has respect for the original architectural style and materials on hand. I look forward to seeing come to fruition, and hope it can set an example for future development in the area. Kudos!

  • Jeff Gio

    what a ridiculously low FAR. If the alderman wanted to ease the housing crisis they address these issues

    • Couldn’t agree more, Jeff. This is a problem across the City and why, I think, you see such acrimony when a dense development (like MiCa, for instance) is proposed to make up for the lack of units elsewhere in the area. I would like to take the energy from the affordable housing movement (which is valid and I fully support) and direct towards advocacy for more sensible zoning. The current model only reacts to developer proposals. There is no real plan City-wide.

  • Luis Tellado

    Where do I apply for the apt ??

    • Please send an email direct to logancertified [at]

  • Jacqueline

    When is construction scheduled to wrap up? I live right by the building and can’t wait to see it have new life, but I must admit I’m looking forward to not being woken up by your construction guys each morning. 🙂

    • We are definitely doing our best to wrap up as soon as possible. Only a couple of weeks away from the end of loud noises!

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