Goddard Block

Construction continues at the Goddard Block in downtown Claremont.

NEWPORT — New England Family Housing plans to start advertising apartment rentals for the Goddard Block apartment building, in Claremont, in three weeks. The first six units are slated to be complete in mid-December, announced building owner Kevin Lacasse.

Lacasse, CEO of New England Family Housing, met with the Sullivan County Commissioners on Monday in Newport to discuss two affordable housing projects, the Goddard building at 54 Pleasant St. and the old Ruger Mill building in Newport.

Lacasse told the commissioners that construction at the Goddard building remains on schedule and on budget. The first phase of construction will complete six apartment units and the building annex in mid-December. Construction for the remaining 30 units is expected to finish by the end of January.

When finished, the Goddard building will have a mix of 36 apartments for individuals and families. Nine of the apartments will be market-rate and the other 27 will be “affordable” rental units. 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 $59,419..

The first six units will be livable while construction finishes the rest of the project, LaCasse said.

Lacasse acquired the Goddard building in 2017, shortly after the city condemned the building due to a number of serious code violations. The 24 families living in the building at the time had to be relocated.

Lacasse funded the building’s $11 million rehabilitation by working with various state and federal funding programs. Sources of funding include Low Income Housing Credits ($6.5 million); a Historic Tax Credit ($1.5 million), New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority subsidy ($1.4 million), a Community Development Block Grant ($475,000), a NHHFA construction loan ($8 million) and a permanent loan from NHHFA ($1.2 million).

Lacasse anticipates that the units will move fairly quickly given the high demand for affordable apartments in the region.

“We own and manage about 100 units in Claremont and the demand is huge,” Lacasse said. “As soon as we get a vacancy and advertise it we get about six to eight applications and they lease up quick. Our only vacancies are just turnover because the demand is so strong.”

Workforce housing planned in Newport

The county commissioners unanimously approved a request by Lacasse seeking a community block development grant (CDBG) to help fund his Newport housing project, which will convert the former Ruger Mill building on 169 Sunapee St. into a 68-unit apartment complex for workforce housing.

Lacasse projected the project to cost around $20 million. He already has applications filed to receive housing tax credits through the state Housing Authority and historical tax credits through the National Park Service. He said the CDBG funds will help cover the remaining funding gap.

“I’m really excited about this project,” Lacasse told the commissioners. “It’s a beautiful building and in a great spot.”

Workforce housing is designed for people who are employed but earn a low to moderate income.

According to Laccasse, 17 of the 68 apartment units will be market rate; 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.

The project has already received approval from Newport’s planning board, zoning board and the selectboard.

Though the selectboard initially expressed reservations when Lacasse presented the project to them in August, Lacasse said that once he provided more explanation and materials, the board gave their support.

Lacasse will apply for the next round of CDBG considerations, which starts in January 2020. Those grants should be awarded between March and April.

Lacasse hopes to have funding in place by May 2020 to begin construction next June.

Ed. note: First two paragraphs were revised to clarify that the Goddard building is located in Claremont, though the meeting took place in Newport. 10/9/19

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