June 29, 2008

One sold, one knocked down: A day's work for nonprofit transforming a Racine neighborhood

The Perez family at their new home.

One house was torn down. Another was sold. Both happened on the same day this month, in the same neighborhood under the guidance of Neighborhood Housing Services of Southeast Wisconsin.

For those who don't know NHS, it's basically an organization working to rebuild the Towerview neighborhood that surrounding SC Johnson Administration building from DeKoven Avenue north to the police station, and east from the lake to Racine Street on the west (those are my approximate boundaries ... NHS has a more precise layout of its service area).

The picture above is of The Perez family, who purchased a beautiful home on 11th Street. NHS purchased this two-family home for $63,827, and in a year more than doubled the value of the property. The Perez family bought the remodeled single-family home - NHS guts and refurbishes homes at a high level in hopes of inspiring neighbors to do the same - for $157,000 (though the appraised value is yet to be determined).

On the same day, NHS demolished a building at 1652 Mead St. to make room for new construction.

"It is assumed that tearing down taxable property is bad for the city, but you can tear down a house valued at $50,000 to make room for another valued it $150,000," said Rachel Westergren, community builder for NHS.

NHS is also working on a neighborhood plan for the Towerview area and runs classes for people interested in buying homes. The long-term goal is to convert more multi-family rentals back into high-quality single-family homes that people will buy, helping to stabilize a neighborhood that includes some of the richest (along the lake) and poorest properties in the city.

Here's a few more photos:

909 11th St. before the remodel.

1652 Mead St. being demolished.


  1. There a young lady there Rachael who simply rocks out. An unsung here of Racine.

  2. Yes, Rachel rocks! And she lives in the "Towerview" neighborhood. Although I have lived in the "Towerview" neighborhood fo almost 20 years now and have never heard that name before.