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How a family built and enjoyed their home before Foxconn

How a family built and enjoyed their home before Foxconn

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MOUNT PLEASANT — Kimberly Mahoney was at work at SC Johnson when she found out.

“It was a panic attack, shock,” Kimberly said.

Her husband, James, happened to be home and saw it on the news.

“I was like ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’ ” James said. “How can you tell us they’re taking our property? This is our property. We bought this property. How can you be taking our property with our brand new house?”

Their daughter Reese came home from school to celebrate her 12th birthday and asked her parents about it saying, “what happened with Foxconn?”

“She thought we were kidding when we told her we had to move,” Kimberly said. “She just started bawling.”

Many Mount Pleasant residents found out for the first time on Oct. 4 that the Village of Mount Pleasant was going to eventually be purchasing their property and selling it to the Foxconn Technology Group to build a massive manufacturing campus.

The Mahoneys are like many families who are scrambling to move, but they’re also unique in that they just moved into their house in February after nine years of designing and building it.

This is the story of a family who built their dream house only to have it for a year or 18 months, and how they made as many memories in the house as possible.

Building the house

Like many couples looking to make their house a home, they asked themselves: What do we want?

“He picked this out the first time we looked at countertops and I thought ‘eh, I like it,’ but I have to look at every option,” Kimberly said. “I probably looked at 300 other countertops before deciding I can’t find anything I like better.”

The countertops they went with — granite gray with silver sparkles — were more expensive than some of the others they looked at but Kimberly said “this was an upgrade, this was a splurge.”

They planned on spending the rest of their lives in that home, and the problem with the countertops are, Kimberly said “it’s not something you would put in a home that you‘re going to resell in a couple of years — or in 10 months.”

The stone fireplace and outdoor wall was their “first project.”

“The whole wall is stone that we put in, we worked on it all summer,” James said. “A friend of mine is a retired mason and he showed us how to do it.”

It took about “two weekends and a couple of days during the week,” to get the stone work done, Kimberly said.

Next was putting in the wooden floor and with the help of some of Kimberly’s family, they again did it themselves.

“We did it ourselves to save money because we just couldn’t afford (contractors) and because we wanted this material,” Kimberly said. “So it cost more to get this material, with the underlayment, and to be able to do that and afford it we did it ourselves.”

Everything in the house is tailor-made for them. From the microwave that was installed at hip level — “because I’m so short,” Kimberly said — to putting all the rooms on one level.

“We didn’t want a lot of stairs so when you get older, you don’t have to go up and down stairs,” James said.

Also carefully planned was the fact that the house is built out toward the road to shorten the driveway so there wouldn’t be as much snow to shovel in the winter.

There are two full bathrooms, including one with a Bluetooth speaker in the shower head that Kimberly won at a silent auction.

“Now my daughter and I don’t fight in the morning because she has her bathroom and I have mine,” Kimberly said.

Moving in

The Mahoneys bought the plot of land in 2008 but it took some time to find a floor plan and pick out material. So in the meantime James would still cut the grass and Reese would ride her ATV on the property with friends and would think “I can’t wait to move here.”

“I got to watch my daughter play all summer long with the neighborhood kids,” James said. “Where we lived (before) she didn’t go outside much. There was no one for her to play with. Finally we get here and there’s somebody for her to play with.”

The living room, dining room and family room are completely open by design so there is more room for company and gatherings with friends and family.

“We’re Irish, so we had St. Patrick’s Day,” James said.

Normally moving days in February in Wisconsin can be rough, but Mother Nature gave them some help.

“The weekend that we moved, it was 70 degrees,” Kimberly said.

James added: “It was perfect.”

Since learning they had to move because of Foxconn, the Mahoneys have been hosting the family for Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve.

As the Wisconsin Badgers football team made their undefeated run, the friends and family packed the living room to cheer them on.

Reese’s bedroom is actually two bedrooms combined into one, and she’s been having friends sleep over as often as she can.

“We only have 6½ years with her until she does away to college, so let’s give her the space that she’s going to enjoy,” Kimberly said. “She’s been going through this as long as we have.”

Now, several days a week, Kimberly and James spend their free time looking at houses and plots of land to start over, but it has been difficult.

“We found a lot out in Yorkville, but it’s just more expensive ... what we’re trying to do now is see if we can move the whole house,” Kimberly said. “We contacted a moving company that moves houses.”

It is hard to let go of a home that took so long to build and how do you go about starting over, Kimberly said.

“It has everything we wanted in a dream house,” Kimberly said about their home. “I picked specific items because that’s what I wanted and I want to be able to put the same things in my house. We’re OK with moving as long as we can find something similar.”

“We’re not trying to get in the way of this (Foxconn) project. It’s just — we want this.”


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Ricardo Torres covers federal, state and Racine County politics along with the Village of Mount Pleasant. He bleeds Wisconsin sports teams.

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