Photo credit: Kenn Sassorossi
Thursday morning brought together scores of interested onlookers as two local nonprofit housing developers were joined by Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and Vermont’s Speaker of the House Shap Smith to mark the beginning of construction of a new housing co-op in Burlington’s Old North End.
“The Bright Street Housing Cooperative will create greatly-needed new affordable housing opportunities in Burlington, and will continue the recent progress of substantial new investment in the Old North End,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “Congratulations and thank you to the Champlain Housing Trust and Housing Vermont for the creative, dedicated work that has made today’s groundbreaking possible and for your partnership in the long-term effort to make Burlington more affordable.”
“We know that community centers and downtowns are what many young families seek out as they search for places to work and grow a home. The Bright Street Housing Cooperative provides housing opportunity in this neighborhood in a way that reflects local needs and values. It was created with community involvement. When complete, it will offer housing that people need and can afford,” added Vermont Speaker of the House Shap Smith.
Two nonprofits – Champlain Housing Trust and Housing Vermont – are collaborating to build the development that will create 40 new homes on the one and a quarter acre brownfield site. Construction is underway and occupancy is expected in September, 2016. Four old, blighted buildings are to be removed to make way for the new housing in three buildings. Land is set aside for the possibility of installing a community garden at a later date.
“We are excited to be here in the Old North End creating new affordable apartments for the first time in more than a decade,” said Brenda Torpy, CEO of the Champlain Housing Trust. “We’re also thrilled to be organizing this development as a co-op giving the residents some of the benefits of ownership – as the neighborhood requested – while imparting leadership and business skills to the people who move in.”
Funding for the housing came from a variety of sources, including investments made by TD Bank through the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. Grants from HUD-funded programs were instrumental to the development, including support from NeighborWorks® America, HOME and Community Development Block Grants (commonly known as CDBG), the latter administered by the City of Burlington. Support and financing also came from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, Vermont Housing Finance Agency, Burlington Electric Department, Vermont Gas, the City of Burlington’s Housing Trust Fund, TD Charitable Foundation, and the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission.
In addition, the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission and State of Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation early support allowed the developers to hire professional expertise to conduct Environmental Site Assessments and Archeological Resource Assessments of the property, facilitating the redevelopment.
“While this project will bring long lasting housing and community development benefits to residents, the neighborhood and the broader community, it also generates significant economic advantages,” said Housing Vermont President Nancy Owens. “It will create 118 on-site jobs and 177 off-site jobs while providing more than $25 million in construction and indirect economic benefit.”
D.E.W. Construction out of Williston is the general contractor for the development and Duncan Wisniewski Architecture is the project’s architect. The cost of the development, including the environmental clean-up of the site, is approximately $11.7 million.
The housing will include a range of bedroom sizes to house both individuals and families. While not firm yet, rents for the two-bedroom expect to range between $775 and $1,200 a month, heat and hot water included. Fair Market Rent, as determined by HUD, is $1,328 for a two-bedroom apartment.
“We receive over 150 applications a month from people looking for an affordable rental, and we’ll only have a handful available,” explained CHT’s Torpy. “Building new housing like this is so critical for people in Burlington and surrounding communities.”
For more coverage of this story view the articles linked below:
Nonprofits Break Ground on Bright St. Co-op (Burlington Free Press)
City Celebrates New Option For Low-Cost Living (WPTZ)