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WEST VALLEY CITY — Mike Whitmer is a longtime West Valley City resident. He spent Thursday working on a kitchen renovation project.
"We're just putting some crown molding in our house," said Whitmer. "We're trying to get things so they look nice."
He's reared five children at his home near the Valley Fair Mall and has no plans to move.
"Probably not until we die or until we go live in an old folks home," he said.
He said he's seen his neighborhood change over the years.
"When we first moved in there was a lot of families, a lot of younger families," he said.
However, the house just across the street has been a problem for some time, he said.
"They weren't taking very good care of it," he said. "There has been a lot of questionable people living there. It was a relief when the city decided to make that one of their projects."
That project is the "Idea House," a partnership between West Valley City and the Community Development Corporation of Utah.
"We thought, what's a way to help out neighborhoods that were built rapidly and started to go into decline?," said Corey Rushton, a West Valley City councilman.
The city purchased the home for $120,000 with help from a federal grant. It has spent the last three months fixing it up. Thursday was the open house, where visitors found the inside complete with new paint, appliances and carpet. The outside has a new fence and a landscaped yard.
If you can take the worst house in the neighborhood and make it the best house in the neighborhood, the neighbors will want to follow suit.
–Corey Rushton, WVC councilman
"If you can take the worst house in the neighborhood and make it the best house in the neighborhood, the neighbors will want to follow suit," Rushton said.
He said the idea is working. Thursday's open house marked the completion of the city's third "Idea House." In the other two neighborhoods, Rushton said he's seen a change.
"A neighbor painted his door, another one planted a new garden and another completely redid the sidewalk," he said.
Rushton calls these small improvements tiny steps toward getting more West Valley City residents to take pride in where they live. That's something Whitmer already understands.
"We don't want our home to be an eye sore," Whitmer said. "We're trying to do what we can."
He's hoping the idea will catch on.
The house will soon be on the market with an asking price of $182,000.