NEWPORT — At a public hearing on Monday, Kevin Lacasse of New England Family Housing told the Sullivan County Commissioners that the Goddard Block building is accepting applications for apartments and street-level commercial spaces, with the project to finish by the end of January.
Lacasse and Donna Lane, a grant consultant, met with the county commissioners as part of three public hearings around Lacasse’s two affordable housing projects: the Goddard Block building located at 54 Pleasant St. in Claremont and the old Ruger Mill building located at 169 Sunapee St. in Newport. Lacasse is currently working on a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) application to request up to $500,000 in funds for the Newport housing project.
Goddard Block project almost complete
Lacasse told the county commissioners that the Goddard Block building remains on schedule and on budget. The first phase of construction is slated to finish by the end of December, which will include six apartments and the building annex. Construction for the remaining 30 apartments will be completed at the end of January.
Getting the windows ordered was an ordeal because the process required approval from the National Park Service, since the Goddard Block building is a historic property. Hence, it is no surprise that 20% of the project’s funding is with historical tax credits, a federally funded program.
“That’s been a real struggle,” Lacasse told the county commissioners. “We’ll submit something [to the National Park Service] and it may take six to eight weeks to get a response back, and usually the response is requesting more information.”
Lacasse said that the agency finally approved his chosen model of windows. The windows were ordered about a week ago and are expected to arrive either this week or next week.
The Goddard Block building will provide a mix of 36 market-rate and affordable apartments for individuals and families, as well as street-level commercial spaces for lease. Nine of the apartments will be market-rate. Of the remaining apartments, three units will be for tenants earning up to 80% of the area median income; 16 units for tenants earning up to 60% of the median income; two units for tenants earning up to 50% of the median income; and six units for tenants earning up to 30% of the median income. The median family income in Sullivan County is $73,600.
Moreover, Lacasse said New England Family Housing is still seeking tenants for the street-level commercial units. There is total room for up to three commercial spaces plus a small commercial office space in the back of the building.
Alliance Asset Management, a property management company in Concord, is handling apartment applications.
A request for the number of leased apartments so far could not be attained in time for publication.
Application in works for CDBG
The county commissioners also held a public hearing for 169 Sunapee St., a former mill building which Lacasse hopes to repurpose into a 68-unit apartment complex for workforce housing.
Lacasse is currently working on a CDBG application, which will need approval of the county commission prior to submission.
The county commissioners approved Lacasse’s request to begin applying for the grant at a meeting on Oct. 8. The public hearing yesterday was to provide an update to the county commissioners to approve continuing the grant-writing process.
The project has already received approval from Newport’s planning board, zoning board and selectboard. Lacasse said there was initial pushback from the selectboard because they did not fully understand the project, but with more time and explanation the board eventually got behind it.
“People have come to see the benefit it will bring the community,” Lacasse said.
Lacasse told the county commission in October that the CDBG funds will help cover the remaining funding gap. He estimated the project to cost approximately $20 million. Lacasse has already filed to receive housing tax credits through the State Housing Authority and historical tax credits through the National Park Service.
The present plan is for 17 of the 68 apartment units to be market rate. Of the remaining units, 34 will be for people earning up to 60% of the area median income; 10 units for people earning up to 50% of median income; and seven units for people earning up to 30% of the median income.
ed.note - According to Housing and Urban Development 2019 data, the area median family income in Sullivan County is $73,600, not $59,419. This info was changed on Dec.3,2019