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Auburn students redesign bungalows for a ‘better flip’

Glen Miller | Gazette Tribune

PAINESVILLE – Millennials aren't always interested in purchasing the hundreds of small 1950’s bungalows in Lake County, although that could change thanks to a local architectural redesign competition.
Fourteen Auburn architecture and project management students will each present home concept plans for enlarged and modernized bungalows during “The Better Flip,” a March 21 program co-sponsored by the Lake County Ohio Port and Economic Development Authority and Auburn Career Center.

“Our objective is to convert these 1950's bungalows to an attractive house for millennials,” said Port Authority Executive Director Mark Rantala, during a Feb. 22 agency meeting.

The design competition is an effort to hopefully spur more interest in bungalows among area home flippers by demonstrating how the small, older homes can be renovated and profitably be resold, he explained. Homes in the western end of the county were chosen from online real estate websites. Most of the approximately 1,000-square-foot homes are located in Wickliffe, Willoughby, Willoughby Hills and Eastlake, although Rantala said other bungalows not included in the project are located elsewhere in Lake County.

All are worth less than $100,000, with most valued between $40,000 and $50,000, Rantala added.
“Some of the higher-end ones have had some renovations made, but not the type of renovations we are trying to achieve,” Rantala said. 
Most of the home concept competition involves renovations resulting in master bedrooms with walk-in closets, master bathrooms and enlarged open kitchens that include dining areas, or a master kitchen-dining room.

The design changes would create an additional 300 to 400 square feet of living space in west end bungalows, giving millennials some of the extra room they desire in today's homes, he explained.
Several flippers who purchase, renovate and resell homes in western Lake County have been contacted and invited to attend the event. 
“What we're trying to do is get flippers to think a little bigger, not just put in brand new counter tops and laminated floors, and stainless steel appliances,” he added. “We want them to do the bigger bathrooms and bigger bedrooms. We're trying to give them a bigger vision.”

Realtors who have high volume home sales in the four cities, building department representatives and other officials from each community also have been invited.
The home concept plans of the students have been reviewed by Rantala three times from a customer's perspective, while Bob Fiala, managing partner of ThenDesign Architecture in Willoughby, also has offered his advice.

The conceptual home redesign effort ties in nicely with the Port Authority's plans to step up economic development planning to assist communities in the west end of the county. The request was made by the county commissioners several weeks ago. 

Those efforts will initially concentrate on retail and commercial development, Rantala said. 
Through “The Better Flip,” however, community officials can learn how older housing stock also can be improved by encouraging more homeownership among young families rather than leaving the homes to be rented, he added. 

The jointly sponsored redesign program starts at 6 p.m. at the Auburn Career Center on Auburn Road in Concord Township.

“I think this also is another great opportunity for us to show off the good work that Auburn is doing with students to help our (county's) future workforce,” Rantala said. 
In other action, the Port Authority formally approved a resolution authorizing the sale of $8.2 million in bonds to finance construction of a new YMCA in Willoughby. The new 38,000-square-foot Y, 36909 West Ridge Rd., is to be the centerpiece of Union Village, a health, social service and educational campus that also will include a new South High School and Willoughby Senior Center.

The high school and senior center are being separately financed.