High school students revamp a foreclosed duplex

Students from Northeast Metro 916 Career and Technical Center transformed the duplex on Sixth Avenue in North St. Paul into a single-family home during the 2014-15 school year. Above is after, below is before. (file photo/Linda Baumeister)

A duplex in North St. Paul was remodeled to include a new kitchen and fireplace. (submitted photos)

North St. Paul now marketing ‘new’ single-family home near Webster School 

The transformation of a duplex into a single-family home located across the street from Webster Elementary School in North, St. Paul, is nothing short of amazing, and it is even more amazing that all the renovation work was done by high school students. 

After a prior resident had to be evacuated using teargas and arrested for criminal acts in 2013, the duplex at 2001 Sixth Street, North St. Paul, was boarded up and fell into foreclosure. The dwelling soon became a blight that the neighborhood was eager to change.

The building was structurally sound, but in need of a complete overhaul, so the North St. Paul city staff suggested the building might be a project for high school students interested in construction-related careers at the Northeast Metro 916 Career and Technical Center. 

The program has a partnership with the city and each year takes on a housing project. 

However, this project was different than the other six houses the students had tackled in North St. Paul. Instead of building a house from the ground up, students were challenged with their first remodeling project. 

They were presented with the task of turning the outdated duplex into a modern, single-family home. 

North St. Paul’s city manager Jason Ziemer explains that the initial plan was to remodel the house and keep it as a duplex. However, after consulting realtors, the city was advised to transform the duplex into a single-family home because the units of the duplex were small by today’s standards. 

“The exterior was very sound structurally,” Ziemer says. So instead of starting from scratch and tearing the building down, they decided that it could be saved and remodeled. “Let’s put it to better use” was the approach they decided to take instead, Ziemer says.

Tom Spehn has been teaching the construction occupation program at 916 Career and Technical Center since 1999, and was excited to tackle a project that he had not yet done with students. 

Spehn explains that the most important things he wants to teach students are not only how to do it, but why they are doing it. 

“When you build from the ground up, it is sometimes difficult to visualize the why, but the remodeling project gave students a better understanding of the structural integrity of a home,” Spehn says. 

Juniors and seniors from high schools in districts that are partnered with 916 Career and Technical Center work on the house project two hours a day for an entire school year. 

“Many high school students struggle with the idea of choosing a career,” Spehn says. “By giving them the opportunity to try the program during high school, it will reinforce their decision to enter the building trades, or to look at other careers.” 

Ready for occupancy

The remodeling project is finished, and the city is now in the process of selling the house.

For 2014 taxes, the property was valued by the Ramsey County Assessor’s Office at $290,000, and after the remodeling, its sale price is listed at $310,000.

The 2,49- square-foot house is on a 10,200-square-foot lot and has a three-car garage, three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a finished basement and a fireplace. 

“This one is going to be a huge neighborhood benefit by rehabbing a property that had been a problem property for so many years,” explains Scott Duddeck, the North St. Paul public works director. “It is really going to uplift the community.”

“This was a great learning opportunity for my students as well,” Spehn adds. 

Rachel Weiss can be reached at rweiss@lillienews.com.


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