By Judy Reed
A lot with historical significance in the City of Cedar Springs, but has sat vacant for five years, is getting a new lease on life.
On February 7, 2010, a once beautiful and elegant old house that had been turned into apartments was destroyed by fire. The house at 40 E. Maple, located on the southwest corner of Maple and First, had long ago been the home of Sally Wall, who for years had sewn the city’s famous Red Flannels both in her home, and then later, in her remodeled barn next door at 36 E. Maple (which is now the Cedar Springs Post).
When the house burned, in the wee hours of the morning, it was a total loss, and what didn’t burn was torn down. There were a few inquiries into the lot; but nothing serious until last year, when Inner City Christian Federation, an organization similar to Habitat for Humanity, decided it would be a good lot to build a home on for someone who needed it. Their mission is to “provide housing opportunities and services that encourage family responsibility and independence, thereby helping to build stable communities.”
“I like to call us Habitat on steroids,” joked Don Fredricks, Construction Volunteer and Special Projects Coordinator for ICCF. He also happens to be a licensed builder. “We have a whole education department that they go through,” he explained. He said potential homeowners are educated in home maintenance, how to manage credit, family values, etc. “They have to know the why and how to take care of a home,” he added.
“We really wanted to start this last year, but it didn’t work out,” said Fredricks.
He said that with the cold weather, the first few stages would be subcontracted out instead of using volunteers. “We will be subcontracting the framing, roofing, siding, mechanical, electrical and heating work. With this cold weather, we need to make sure it’s done correctly.”
Volunteers will be needed when they start on the trim, carpentry, painting, landscaping, etc. If anyone would like to volunteer for that, they are welcome to call Fredricks at (616) 336-9333. He said they are shooting to be done by the end of June, or the end of August. “The way our financing works, the owner has to be working at the time, and since she works for a school, she doesn’t work during the summer,” he explained.
The owner of the home will be a single mom who lives in the area. Fredricks said there is definitely a need in the area for this type of housing.
“The County has been after us for years to do in the rural community what we normally do in the inner city,” he explained. The catch is that the community has to have city water and sewer, so it can’t be just anywhere. They also built a few homes in the City of Lowell several years ago. “Cedar Springs and Lowell both seem to be the two communities that could really use this,” he noted.
They are also looking at a city-owned lot on Pine Street. That will still have to be approved by the City Council, however. City Manager Thad Taylor said it would be taken up at the next City Council meeting.