Big Money Spent on Homes Near University of St. Thomas
The University of St. Thomas in St. Paul and homeowners are coming together to improve a neighborhood and relationship.
When the University of St. Thomas built the home of the Opus College of Business at the intersection of Summit and Cleveland avenues, the school had to meet one important condition.
The city of St. Paul required the school to purchase 30 houses in the Macalaster-Groveland and Merriam Park neighborhoods. They had to rehab them and convert the homes from student-rented to owner-occupied by 2016.
Anne Keeley showed a KSTP crew around her house close to her alma mater, the University of St. Thomas.
"We love the vibrancy of the neighborhood. We love the energy of the neighborhood," Keeley said.
Unbeknownst to Anne and her husband Joe, they bought their home from the university five years ago.
"After the process of making offers, during that point they told us what the house was," Keeley said.
John Hershey runs the Housing Buyback Program. He says the boundaries of the program are from Interstate 94 to Fairview, over to St. Clair and down to Cretin. Their price range for buying each house has been between $150,000 to $350,000.
"We're going to purchase the house, clear the mortgage. We're going to apply a restrictive covenant to the deed," Hershey said.
That means the buyer can't rent out the place for 30 years. The houses sell for basically what they were bought for. But remember, part of the clause is to rehab the house. So the buyer and university agree ahead of time on what must be renovated. At the time of closing they get a check for up to $20,000 to do the work.
"Right now we've spent over $800,000 on the program," Hershey said.
This program also came about because residents in the area were complaining about the school's expansion, traffic and trouble with students. Some would say the program hasn't gone far enough. But Keeley says, the program has helped to stabilize community.
"The students are wonderful, great to be around, they respect us, we respect them," Keeley said.
The school is ahead of schedule to meet their quota, 26 of 30 homes sold.