For the first time in memory, new houses are going up along Notre Dame Avenue.
Three faculty and one staff member are building homes on vacant lots along the gateway road south of campus. The spaces were sold to them by the University.
For more than a decade, Notre Dame has been buying up properties on the road between Angela Boulevard and South Bend Avenue as they’ve come on the market. Some of the houses have been refurbished and rented to faculty and staff. Others, beyond repair, were razed. That’s where the new houses are being built.
Notre Dame sold the lots to the pioneering homeowners at 50 percent of their assessed value. One of the conditions was that whatever they decided to build had to comply with guidelines for materials and design developed by university architects to blend in with existing homes. (One of the standard features is a large front porch.) The houses each will have about 2,100 square feet with three to four bedrooms and a basement.
The homeowners also agree to sell their homes back to the Notre Dame if they leave employment, except in cases of retirement, long-term disability or death. The sales price will be equal to their total construction costs plus an annual inflation index, or the home’s current market value, whichever is higher. The guaranteed appreciation is necessary for buyers to secure a mortgage to build a new home in the neighborhood, where prices have been depressed for years.
The program is part of Notre Dame’s efforts to help revitalize South Bend’s Northeast Neighborhood.
“Our hope is to develop a college town but one that is ethnically and economically diverse,” said Lou Nanni ’84, ’88M.A., vice president for public affairs and communication. He added that Notre Dame wants to keep Notre Dame Avenue principally residential.
Another neighborhood development plan under consideration would involve modest loans to employees to help them buy homes in the neighborhood. The loans would be forgiven if the employee lived there a certain number of years.
Ed Cohen is an associate editor of this magazine.