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Notre Dame seniors refurbish houses to provide off-campus student housing

| Friday, April 21, 2017

With the help of an investor, seniors Tom Taylor and John Kennedy purchased three unoccupied houses adjacent to their off-campus residence, refurbished them and are planning on renting them to other Notre Dame students through three limited liability corporations (LLC).

“We’re both business guys, and we’ve always talked about projects and different endeavors aside from our primary jobs,” said Taylor. “We were sitting in our house one day, looking at houses around us — which are unoccupied — and we started digging. We lived in a house and know how fun it can be, and [we] wanted to maximize that for other people.”

Eventually, Taylor and Kennedy found out St. Joseph County owned the three houses, and after several months of negotiating with the county, the houses were sold at auction on February 21 of this year. Taylor and Kennedy won the auction with the help of an investor, who wished to remain anonymous.

“Since then, we’ve been putting in a lot of work to get them renovated [from] top to bottom,” Kennedy said.

The process of renovating the houses is “going great,” Taylor said. Although the houses did not need a full renovation, the pair decided that they would “start over” with each house.

“We wanted to make them perfect,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy and Taylor said they wanted to make the houses into “something that college students want to live in.” Though they are not tailoring the houses toward parents, another mental test they are using is to consider what a parent walking through the house would think. The houses will be ready in August, before the start of the school year.

Taylor and Kennedy said their own experiences living off campus had inspired them to take on this project.

“We’ve done both apartment and house,” Taylor said. “What we wanted to do was to give people the good part of what we had and get rid of the bad parts, such as problems with heating, drains, and things falling apart.”

Kennedy said the pair wanted to “remove the headache.”

The two also hoped to alleviate the shortage of off-campus housing, noting that their current house is already rented out to current freshmen for their senior year. They believe the houses’ 20 collective bedrooms will provide “a huge injection.”

For Taylor and Kennedy, the main attraction of the houses is the large backyard the three houses and the pair’s current residence share. They joked that they might entitle their enterprise “Madison Garden Estates,” given that the houses are located one mile south of campus at the corners of North Francis and East Madison streets.

Kennedy said the neighbors have reacted well to the development.

“We never had a problem with neighbors,” he said. “They have been very positive. The houses were not occupied, so the neighbors are excited to see neighborhood looking good again.”

Each house will have its own LLC, and the pair plan on hiring a property manager for each one. In the project’s first few years, however, Taylor and Kennedy anticipate playing a big role in the renting process.

Kennedy said they also wouldn’t rule out an expansion of their business.

“It’s a possibility,” he said. “This is a good market to be in. We could use proceeds to do more investments in South Bend and elsewhere.”

Taylor said he and Kennedy are excited to contribute to improving the South Bend community.

“We’re big fans of South Bend, we think it’s on the rise and want to be a part of it,” he said. “We want to look back on rise of South Bend and see that we were a part of it.”

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