Inside the home at 1307 North Mulberry Street, a fireplace is secured snugly in the living room wall and the island in the kitchen takes some of the hassle out of lack of counter space.
North Mulberry Street is the home to houses built by students at Southwestern Community College (SWCC) and Creston High School. The most recently built home on the market is located at 1307 North Mulberry Street. It is available through Hometown Realty.
“25 or so years ago they acquired farmland in order to use it for the carpentry and building trades program,” said Dennis Downing, SWCC carpentry and building trades instructor, “(in order to be as) hands on and realistic as possible.”
The carpentry and building trades students at SWCC and Creston High School are still working on finishing the house. Downing is the instructor for SWCC carpentry and building trades, while the high school program is run by Kyle Harvey.
The carpentry students complete everything within the homes, as well as a small amount of electrical and plumbing. The electrical is finished by the electrical technology students and the plumbing and HVAC is contracted to an outside company. Materials for the houses are purchased locally.
The house contains three bedrooms and two bathrooms upstairs, and two bedrooms and one bathroom in the basement. The house totals 1,420 square feet. It has a two-car garage and steps leading to the backyard.
“The advisory committee and the students will select a plan in March,” said Bill Taylor, SWCC vice president of instruction, “so the students that are in school now ... they will pour the foundation for next year’s house, so when the students come in August, the foundation’s already there.”
The students have been scaling back on the house sizes because of the slow housing market. Previously built houses measured at 1,800 and 1,900 square feet.
SWCC owns the property the student-constructed homes are built on until the homes are sold. Possession of the homes does not take place until the end of the school year.
The student-constructed house has been on the market since last April. It is available for $199,000.
Taylor said he was not concerned about the lack of response because it has been common for the houses to sell slowly.
“We have this house, which they work on when they can, just because we don’t have a buyer right now,” said Taylor. “If someone gives an offer we can have it done. They’re just finishing up the basement.”
Downing said the market the houses are being sold to is not as good of a market as there is available and that it comes down to “cost versus space, and maximizing efficiency.”
Drew Henderson of Hometown Realty was unavailalble for comment.
SWCC also has a partnership with Union County Development Association, and from that partnership a home on South Elm Street has emerged.
“(It’s) nice, affordable housing that would make someone a good starter home,” Taylor said.
The house sits on a 60’ by 120-foot lot. It has three bedrooms and one bath, totallying 1,000 square feet. The house is set at the $95,000 mark, said Taylor.
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity also came into Creston. The most recent Habitat for Humanity house is located on West Jefferson Street and has been purchased.
The high school carpentry students were responsible for building that house.
“Another project that could be for the future would be the Habitat for Humanity program,” Taylor said, “and it wouldn’t be the college students, it would be teh high school students.”
The past couple of years, the college and high-school carpentry programs worked together on houses in the college development of College Drive and North Mulberry Street. Previously the programs worked separately. There are two empty lots left on North Mulberry Street for future homes.
There are also houses the students built on East Townline Street, the James subdivision and two houses rebuilt after the April tornado.
SWCC also has associations with Clarke Community High School’s carpentry program in Osceola and Clarke County Development. In the past they had a program in Red Oak with Montgomery County Development.
“It was certainly nice to be out here with all of the other builders when they were building these new homes, then students could see how the other builders were building,” Taylor said.
Plans for more
“Habitat for Humanity has also acquired another lot in the north side of town and may be wanting the college to work with them on that, too,” Taylor said.
After the UCDA house is finished on South Elm Street, the carpentry students will be working with UCDA on future projects.
The lots north of the current South Elm Street site are owned by UCDA for construction.
“We’re working on affordabe housing opportunities in the Crestion area,” said Taylor, “and trying to clean up the corridors of Creston.”
There is a plan to purchase a house near the current South Elm Street site, demolish it and build a new house, said Wayne Pantini, UCDA executive director. Pantini also said he is working with the city of Afton to build a house there.
“It’s a really nice program, and it’s been good for the community,” Taylor said, “because we’ve built a lot of homes in this community, and trained a lot of craftsmen.”
In other SWCC news:
•Jane Bradley, associate vice president of instruction, is leaving, effective Jan. 11. She plans to go to Hawkeye Community College. SWCC will not be filling the position until next school year.
“We’re going to divide some of those duties up,” said Taylor. “Lindsay Stoaks will be taking some of the duties on for the career and technical area ... Doug Greene will be taking some of the duties on in the arts and science area, and Jan Pettit and myself will be picking up some other duties, as well. ... Everybody’s volunteered to help, so I think we’ll get through for the time being.”
Board Member Dennis Davis motioned for her leave, and Board Member Susan Lane seconded. No one opposed the motion.