Coon Rapids’ Home for Generations open house May 30

Phase two of the city of Coon Rapids’ Home for Generations (H4G II) program will be presented to the public at an open house Thursday, May 30, 4:30 to 8 p.m., at the Coon Rapids Civic Center.

To promote the event and pique the public’s interest, postcards were mailed by the city to some 15,000 households in Coon Rapids.

Home for Generations Phase II will provide financial incentives to homeowners who take on large remodeling projects at their residences.

The financial incentives include a grant of up to $5,000 and a rebate of 50 percent on building fees.

In addition the Coon Rapids Mortgage Assistance Foundation (CRMAF) is offering a financing option from a $500,000 revolving loan fund, which it has created for the project.

According to Kristin DeGrande, city neighborhood coordinator, applications have been accepted for the program for the past two weeks.

“We have already received 12 to 15 applications,” DeGrande said.

DeGrande and Cheryl Bennett, city housing and zoning coordinator, will be at the open house to talk with residents informally about the program.

Interim Chief Building Official Brian Vinkemeier will also be on hand to speak with residents about the building permit process, while Planner Scott Harlicker will be present to discuss zoning, setback and variance requirements.

There will be no formal presentations made at the open house, DeGrande said.

People can come and go as they please throughout the course of the event, she said.

Displays and tables with architects and contractors will be set up at the open house in the civic center.

A requirement of the program is that an applicant consult with an architect from a pool of 12 architects that have been brought on board by the city for the program.

Eight to nine of those architects will be at the open house to talk one-on-one with residents interested in applying for the program, according to DeGrande said.

In addition, there will be eight to 10 home remodeling contractors at table displays to discuss residents’ plans with them on an individual basis, DeGrande said.

“They will also have samples of materials for homeowners to look at,” she said.

Residents are free to hire their own contractor to do the remodeling if their application is accepted, DeGrande said.

While the Home for Generations Phase II program requires a resident to consult with an architect, it does not mean they have to continue with the remodeling project if they don’t find it feasible or if they cannot line up financing, according to DeGrande.

The Coon Rapids Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), which comprises the seven members of the Coon Rapids City Council, gave approval Feb. 19 to a series of program guidelines as well as a 2013 budget of $20,000 to come from the HRA account.

Through H4G II, eligible homeowners will be given financial incentives and technical assistance to undertake home remodeling projects totaling $35,000 or more.

The financial help from the HRA will include an incentive grant as well as a 50 percent rebate on the building permit.

Technical help will come in the form of architectural and landscaping assistance, to which the homeowners would only be required to put down a $25 co-pay with the HRA and the CRMAF picking up the rest of the cost up to $250 per participant.

The program, like the original Home for Generations project, is targeted at older Coon Rapids homes.

There will be no limit on the property tax value of the home, but under the program guidelines the home has to be 20 years or older.

In addition, the CRMAF guidelines for the loan option provide for loans up to $50,000 at a fixed 4.5 percent interest rate for 20 years with a 100 percent loan to value instead of the typical 80 percent, Bennett said.

Homeowners will also be allowed to hire an independent appraiser to establish value on their property in lieu of the estimated market value, she said.

“Home for Generations phase II will provides a needed incentive to encourage large investments in the city’s housing, which will in turn, inspire other homeowners to consider the same,” DeGrande said.

Through the original Home for Generations program, the HRA purchased older vacant and/or foreclosed properties, remodeled them to more modern standards and then sold them.

The council decided last year to end the Homes for Generations program in its original form and at a work session in September 2012, it began consideration of a second phase.

The goal of H4G II is to encourage private, major improvements to single-family homes to make them more functional for contemporary households, promote reinvestment in other homes in the surrounding neighborhood and revitalize the city’s existing, aging housing stock, according to DeGrande.

Under the H4G II program, participants must be a current Coon Rapids homeowner, must reside at the home to be remodeled as their primary residence and the remodeled home must maintain homestead status.

Eligible projects, which must add living space or be a major remodel, include:

• Building an addition to the home.

• Building a sun roof.

• Finishing previously unfinished space in the basement or attic.

• Constructing a covered front porch.

• Converting a garage into livable space.

• Major kitchen, bathroom or basement remodeling.

• Adding a new bathroom.

• Moving walls of existing rooms.

Eligible exterior upgrades include altering the roofline on the front of the home; constructing columns at the front door; building a covered front porch; adding shakes, brick or stone on the front of the home; replacing or upgrading the front door and/or garage if it faces the street; landscaping (design assistance is required) and other elements at approved.

A grant of up to $5,000 will be provided based on the type of project completed and if the project includes two or more exterior upgrades, then the grant is up to 10 percent of the project cost, not to exceed $5,000.

But if the project does not include exterior upgrades the eligible grant would be up to 5 percent of the project cost, not to exceed $2,500.

“The incentive would stress improvement in our housing stock and the likely domino effect exterior improvements have on our neighborhoods,” DeGrande wrote.

Under the Home for Generations Phase II program, there would be a streamlined plan review process for each program applicant and a dedicated building inspector would be assigned to each project; that inspector would be the applicant’s point of contact for any construction or building code related questions.

Applications will be accepted on a first-come, first served basis until funds are depleted, according to DeGrande.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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