Friday, April 25, 2014

Changes made to Winchester housing project

By Meghan Foley Sentinel Staff

WINCHESTER — As a local agency continues to seek funding to make improvements to a roughly 40-year-old housing development, it has scaled back its original plans.
Keith F. Thibault, chief development officer for Southwestern Community Services, said Thursday that after being unable to secure competitive tax credits last fall, officials decided to change the scope of the project from rebuilding 30 units at the Wedgewood development to renovating them.
Southwestern Community Services, based in Keene, is a nonprofit organization that develops much of the Monadnock Region’s low-income housing. It doesn’t own Wedgewood, but is slated to purchase it from Keene Housing after the project is complete.
The project, which is expected to start in September, will be done over three phases, and involves renovating five duplexes at a time, Thibault said.
The complex, which was built in the 1970s, has 15 duplexes.
Renovations will include gutting and updating the inside of each duplex, and drainage improvements, as water flows toward the buildings now instead of away from them, Thibault said.
“It’s a major renovation almost to the level of restoration,” he said.
The first phase of the project is estimated to take about three months, and the entire endeavor is expected to take roughly a year, he said.
As each renovation takes place, most families living at Wedgewood will be relocated to open housing units on the site, he said. They will then be allowed to return to their homes when the renovations are complete, he said.
To move people around the complex, housing units are not being filled as people living at Wedgewood move out, he said.
The change in plans will drop the cost of the project from about $6 million to about $4 million, Thibault said.
Southwestern is working with Keene Housing on the project, and will rename it Woodcrest when the agency buys it, he said.

On Tuesday, the N.H. Community Development Finance Authority announced that Winchester will receive a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant to help make infrastructure, safety and energy improvements to Wedgewood housing.

Thibault said his agency is in the process of securing non-competitive tax credits to help fund the remainder of the project.

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