Fifth house Coon Rapids Home for Generations was showcased for the public

by Peter Bodley
Managing Editor

A steady stream of people walked through a vacant/foreclosed home in Coon Rapids for three hours Sunday afternoon.

Debra Hansen, who lives in a rambler on Kumquat Street N.W., checks a floor plan drawing of the remodeling planned for the rambler on Xavis Street N.W.

The purpose was a pre-construction open house to show off the plans that have been made for the remodeling of the rambler at 11635 Xavis St. N.W., which was built in 1960.

This is the fifth vacant/foreclosed home that the Coon Rapids Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) has purchased through the Home for Generations program since it was launched in 2009.

The purpose of the Home for Generations program has been to purchase vacant/foreclosed older homes in the city, remodel them and then sell them to recover the HRA’s purchase and remodeling costs, not to turn a profit.

All four prior homes that have been purchased and remodeled have been sold, including two last year.

But more than that, the HRA, through the Home for Generations program, wants to give residents living in older homes in the city ideas for remodeling their own homes.

And for that reason, the city has pre-construction, mid-construction and post-construction open houses.

To do the remodeling projects, the HRA hires a contractor through a requests for proposal (RFP) process.

Darrell Olson, builder, remodeler and owner of Legacy Homes Inc., was chosen by the HRA to handle the Xavis Street project.

A native of Coon Rapids and a graduate of Coon Rapids High School, who then attended Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Olson started in the building trades in 1988 and went into business for himself with Legacy Homes in 1996, both building and remodeling homes.

According to Olson, construction was to start this week with completion in 60 days.

There will be a mid-construction open house Sunday, March 25 with post-construction open houses starting in early May when the house is put up for sale following completion of the remodeling project.

Olson responded to the HRA’s RFP for the remodeling project because he grew up in Coon Rapids – he attended Morris Bye Elementary School and Coon Rapids Middle School as well as graduating from Coon Rapids High School – and has a personal interest in the city maintaining and revitalizing its housing stock, he said.

“I wanted to work with the city on its Home for Generations program,” Olson said.

In the case of the Xavis Street home, he said the remodeling project’s goals are to create more curb appeal with a more open floor plan, increase the amount of storage space, make the main floor more open and multi-functional, update the kitchen and add a walk-in pantry, move the laundry room to the main floor and increase the size of the master bedroom, create a proper bedroom downstairs and make both bathrooms more functional.

The budget for the project agreed to by Olson and HRA in the contract is $40,000.

But in contrast to the remodeling of the four other Home for Generations houses, rather than one big project, Olson has broken down his remodeling into smaller segments “to make them as affordable as possible” to people interested in remodeling their own homes, according to Kristin DeGrande, city neighborhood reinvestment coordinator.

And to make the remodeling plans more clear to open house attendees, the floors, windows, walls and doors were clearly marked with specific details on what was planned.

For example, the front door will be moved from one side of the front windows to the other and the windows themselves will be more centered.

Laverne Gartner, who lives in a 1960 rambler on the other side of Northdale Boulevard from the Xavis property, was at the open house Sunday and describes her home as “five times worse.”

She wants to remodel her home and wanted to see the plans for the Xavis Street house, Gartner said.

One of the problems for Gartner at her home is that all the fixtures are the original and when she needs to replace them, she finds they are not in stock because they are not made anymore, she said.

For example, she wants to replace her counter top, but can’t because the counter tops that are in stock at stores now won’t fit in the space she has, Gartner said.

Debra Hansen, lives with her husband in a 1950s rambler on Kumquat Street on the east side of Coon Rapids, was looking for remodeling ideas, she said.

“We have lived in our home for 11 years, and that’s long enough to think about updating it,” Hansen said.

Another couple who stopped by the open house were Dan and Olivia Louden, who live in a split entry home in the area of the Bunker Hills Golf Course.

While looking to update their own house, they are also considering moving into a rambler, according to Olivia Louden.

“We are looking for ideas of what we could do in a rambler,” she said.

Besides the remodeling, Legacy Homes will also be testing for lead based paint.

According to Mike Hunstad of Counselor Realty, the realtor the HRA has retained to market and sell the home once the remodeling work is finished, lead based paint is common in homes built before 1978 and the paint has to be removed in order for people interested in buying the property to qualify for mortgages.

That’s why the windows will be replaced as part of the remodeling and the walls given a new coat of paint, Hunstad said.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]