116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — A house renovated by Marion high school students during the last school year as part of a partnership to create more affordable housing is now up for sale.
The home, at 330 Eighth Ave., is the first house renovated as part of the Marion “Community Build” program. The effort is a partnership involving the city of Marion, Marion Independent School District and the Linn-Mar Community School District. Under it, the Marion Economic Development Corp. buys deteriorating homes and students fully renovate them for sale to families with low-to-middle incomes.
Through the class, students learn trade skills and work hands-on with tasks that go into rehabilitating a home.
On Friday, the house — with three bedrooms with two-and-a-half bathrooms — was put on the market.
“When we were looking at this project, we didn’t just want to extend opportunity in the classroom. We wanted to also look at it from a housing perspective,” Nick Glew, president of MEDCO said during an event last Thursday.
Glew said MEDCO initially got involved in the program due to the “Community Promise” program that connects area youth to high-demand jobs in the region.
For about three decades, local students have built new homes to sell. This is the first year students renovated an older home. Glew said the program hopes to continue to find homes to renovate, completing one every school year.
MEDCO bought the home back in August, which had been unoccupied for at least a decade, for $60,000 and reallocated its current revolving loan fund to provide capital for the improvements. The city leveraged a portion of low- and moderate-income funds to assist with costs associated with the construction, maintenance and sale.
A few of the former students — now graduates — who helped renovate the home last week walked through the finished product.
“It’s really cool to see the transformation,” Caidan Dolezal, 18, said.
Last fall, Dolezal and other students started working on the property, including cleaning up the lawn after the Aug. 10, 2020, derecho. Other work included putting in new windows, siding and various other projects inside and outside the house.
“I would definitely recommend taking this class,” said Tanner Veit, 18. “When I did siding, I got good at it and did the shed in my backyard, too.”
Marion Independent School District Superintendent Janelle Brouwer said the idea to switch from building new houses to renovating old homes came in part to help give back to the community, but to also help students learn more practical skills for their own futures.
“Most students won’t start with a brand-new home purchase, but it is likely they will start with some home renovation projects,” Brouwer said. “Plus, when you get to see where a house starts at and see where it ends up, there’s some more pride in that.”
Glew said he hopes for a quick home sale and that plans to find the next house for the next school year will soon be in the works.
“We’re hoping by the middle of the week to have an accepted offer and we’re in the market looking for that home not quite ready to sell today, but with some work, could be a great property,” Glew said last week. “We will be actively looking and we want to talk to people about their properties. We want to find homes in the heart of neighborhoods that could be a potential spark.”
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