Hammer House Late For Parade

May 28, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — Although 188 new homes went on display last Friday in the Spring Parade of Homes, one didn't.

The Hammer for Hope house didn't make the deadline.

A lackluster local economy and a stretch of bitterly cold weather combined to keep the house from being finished in time to be part of the 45th annual parade being presented by the Home & Building Association of Greater Grand Rapids.

Hammer for Hope is a fundraising project that hopes to raise $350,000 for a trio of local charities through the construction of a new house. Proceeds from the sale of the house are to be divided equally among Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth, the Inner City Christian Federation and the North Kent Service Center.

Rockford Companies and Roersma & Wurn Builders are co-sponsoring this year's project, which, at last count, had 37 members of the local construction industry contribute talent and materials worth over $260,000 to the effort. Hammer for Hope marks the third consecutive year that Rockford Companies, owned by John Wheeler and Michael VanGessel, have led the charity project.

The project started on a bad note. It took a little longer than in past years for Rockford to get government clearance to begin preparing the site for construction. By then the crew was into a February cold spell that slowed foundation work even more and soon things started to snowball, which made meeting the May deadline all but impossible.

"It's been a hellacious spring as far as getting framers to get things done. It's been a tough year on these guys finding jobs because of the economy, which made it tougher for them to find the time to donate their work in large blocks," said Bill Meconis, who has managed all three charity projects for Rockford Construction, a division of Rockford Companies.

"Our big problem was getting the framing done and those are the very small guys who can't give up two or three weeks to come in and do it on their own," he added.

The Hammer for Hope house will have four bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, a fireplace, a sunroom on the main level, a lower-level walkout, and a whirlpool in the master bedroom. A laundry room will be adjacent to a three-stall attached garage.

The backyard will have a deck and the lower level will have space for a family room and a library. All totaled, the house will have 2,500 square feet on a two-acre site at 80 Squire St. in Rockford, near Ten Mile Road. Roersma & Wurn designed the house. Rockford bought the property for $75,000 and donated it to the project.

But the good news is the house should be finished sometime in August.

"We're either going to market it this summer or put it in the fall parade," said Meconis.

Todd Ernst of Keller Williams Realty has agreed to list and market the house for free.

"We think it will sell for $350,000," said Wheeler.

The parade runs through June 12 and features 152 new single-family homes and 36 new condominiums. Home prices range from under $100,000 to over $500,000.

Maps of the home locations are available for free at branches of Standard Federal Bank, which is the official parade sponsor. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children ages 2 through 12, and both can be purchased at any home in the parade.

"We've had some good volunteers out there and they've worked hard when they could. It's just that they couldn't put the whole package together for us," said Meconis of the Hammer home. "There will be a house. It will be completed later in the summer."

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