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University develops off-campus

Mary Kate Malone | Wednesday, September 13, 2006

While the University moves forward with major construction projects on-campus, it has been quietly extending its reach into the neighborhood just south of Notre Dame’s boundaries.

The stately new homes lining Notre Dame Avenue are housing Notre Dame faculty and staff and their families, who purchased the lots from the University.

With their manicured lawns, spacious porches and fresh paint, the new homes are evidence of a redevelopment effort taking place in a neighborhood previously riddled with dilapidated homes.

The University’s Department of Asset Management has been directing the purchase of properties along Notre Dame Avenue and selling them to faculty and staff under the condition that the buyers will build a new home fitting certain architectural guidelines.

The University has acquired property off-campus since the late ’80s, but only in the last four years has it started selling the properties to full-time faculty and staff, said Vice President for Business Operations Jim Lyphout.

In the last four years, 17 properties on Notre Dame Avenue have been sold to full-time faculty or staff members. Of those, 15 were empty lots and two were houses that needed to be rehabilitated.

Two more properties are currently available on St. Peter Street as well – one is an empty lot and the other is a house that needs to be rehabilitated.

The University’s housing effort, known as the Notre Dame Avenue Housing Program, is one component of an extensive rehabilitation program driven by the Northeast Neighborhood Revitalization Organization, which was developed in 2003 and 2004, said Gregory Hakanen, Director of the Department of Asset Management.

Notre Dame is one of five institutional sponsors of the NNRO, which seeks to revitalize the area that stretches from the edge of campus south to South Bend Avenue, west to Hill Street and east to the edge of Notre Dame woods.

“When you look at the overall redevelopment plan for the neighborhood, by no means is it just Notre Dame,” Hakanen said. “It’s the city, it’s other local institutions, it’s residents … getting together to plan for redevelopment of the neighborhood.”

The Notre Dame Housing Program focuses on just one zone within that area – covering Notre Dame Avenue, Frances Street and St. Peter Street.

The program is popular among faculty and staff, Hakanen said, and his office already has a waiting list of faculty and staff interested in purchasing a lot from the University. Likewise, his office is always looking out for potential properties to purchase.

“There are still several properties we’d like to acquire,” Hakanen said, noting that sometimes his office will approach property owners who appear to be interested in selling.

“What happens is if a ‘For Rent’ sign goes up in the window, we might say ‘Hey, is it time to sell your property?'”

Lyphout said that in the years since the University began purchasing and re-selling properties on Notre Dame Avenue, residents in the area have been largely receptive to the idea.

“People learned that the University is interested in that area [on and around Notre Dame Avenue] and many times they call my office and let us know that they were going to sell their home,” Lyphout said.

If the University can purchase the home for its appraised value, they might “strike a deal” with the homeowner, Lyphout said.

Specific architectural requirements for the new homes vary from house to house, Hakanen said, but the goal for each new home is the same.

“We want the homes to look like they’ve been there and fit the architecture of the homes in that neighborhood,” Lyphout said.