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Continued: Coon Rapids offers grants for home remodels

  • Article by: SHANNON PRATHER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 2, 2013 - 12:54 PM

A pair of remodels

Jess Bennett and her husband are part of Coon Rapid’s fix-it-up phenomenon. They finished a second remodel on their townhouse in 2012.

They moved into the 2,500-square-foot home when their oldest son was 2 months old. At first the home, built in 1985, seemed so spacious. Then, their twin daughters were born.

Like many families, they owe more than their home is worth. They tried to sell but couldn’t find a buyer and decided to make their current home work. During their first remodel, they enclosed their second-story loft to add a large third bedroom.

As their children grew, the walled-off kitchen felt awkward and confining. The Bennetts ripped out interior walls, creating an open floor plan on the main level. They added a large kitchen island and turned the informal eating area into a computer nook.

Now the children can sit at the island for an after-school snack and homework time while Bennett preps for dinner. “It’s now one big, open space. I can see everything. It’s just amazing,” she said. “I love our neighborhood. I love our house; I really do.”

She said neighbors have toured the new open-floor plan, and it’s created a lot of buzz.

Help for all incomes

Now, qualifying homeowners who remodel can use the city’s Home for Generations grant, architectural and financing program to help cover costs. The City Council rolled out Phase II in March. It’s starting with a modest pot of $25,000 for grants. If the city receives a flood of applications, it is likely to seek more funding, DeGrande said. The city has $500,000 available for loans.

The city wants to amp up the curb appeal of homes, so interior remodels are eligible for only $2,500. To receive the full $5,000, the project must include some exterior work. That can include installing a new front door, dressing up the first porch with columns, or adding brick or stone to the home’s facade.

“We hope homeowners will think bigger about the project,” DeGrande said. “Everyone benefits with better curb appeal.”

Julia and Dylan VanAvery are thinking about remodeling their 1950s Cape Cod. They’re hoping to qualify for the city’s new incentive program.

“I have been following the Home for Generations program for years. I thought it was great,” Julia VanAvery said.

She’s excited that Phase II will help families of all incomes with remodels. The VanAverys moved into their home in 2006 with one child. They now have three children, ages 2, 6 and 9.

They were caught in the housing crash, and selling isn’t an option. They’d like to create a master suite in the basement and add a family room on the main level.

“What was supposed to be our starter home is now looking to be our forever home,” Julia VanAvery said. “We are going to be living here, and we need to make it as comfortable as possible.”

A home run

The city launched its Home for Generations initiative in 2009 after City Council members brainstormed about a home-revitalization program at a council retreat.

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  • Are you eligible?

    To qualify for remodeling grants under Phase II of Coon Rapids’ Home for Generations program:

    • A home must be 20 years or older

    • It must be owner-occupied.

    • The remodel must be $35,000 or more. Homeowners can recoup up to 10 percent of the total renovation cost, not to exceed $5,000.

    • The project must include substantial work such as remodeling a kitchen or bath, tearing down walls to reconfigure layout, adding on or finishing a basement.

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