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October 10. 2012 11:28PM

Affordable housing project breaks ground in Amherst

AMHERST — Expanding beyond the Queen City, NeighborWorks Greater Manchester broke ground last week on a $6.7 million housing project in Amherst.

A townhouse development consisting of 28 units is now being built on 14 acres at 104 Amherst St., the future home of Hidden Pond Apartments.

It is the first affordable housing project taken on by the newly named NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire.

Under its previous title of NeighborWorks Greater Manchester, the organization has developed about 350 affordable housing units throughout the past 20 years, most of them located in Manchester.

“There is absolutely a need for this type of development beyond the city,” said Jennifer Vadney, neighborhood development manager for the group. “We have had a waiting list for potential tenants for well over a year.”

NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire is increasing its territory to offer more services for communities such as Amherst and Nashua while continuing work in Manchester, Goffstown and Hooksett, Vadney said.

In Amherst, the Hidden Pond Apartments complex originally was the brainchild of Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Nashua, an organization that works with public and private businesses to develop and maintain affordable housing in Nashua.

When it was unable to get the project off the ground, Vadney said her group was asked to take over. The townhouses will be available for rent for about $875 to $950 a month, she said.

“These 28 units are designed to match the historic nature of the town,” Vadney said, adding construction is expected to be complete by the end of next summer.

The project consists of five buildings, with five or six townhouse units in each. Individual units have two bedrooms.

Vadney said only a few acres in the front of the property will be used for the development. The remaining property will be kept as open space, with a large wooded area for recreational opportunities for residents, she said.

“Amherst has been a strong supporter of affordable housing. It is important to the community as a whole, since there is definitely a need for diversity,” said Sarah Marchant, Amherst planning director. “This development will also allow for people to age in place.”

Marchant said the project is in a great location, with future walking trails, a common area and open space.

There will be a circular green space around the development, which will include at least two handicap units, Marchant said.

The $6.7-million project is funded in part with about $584,000 in low-income housing tax credits through the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, said Vadney, explaining tax credits are sold to investors.

Other funding partners include Merrimack County Savings Bank, Community Development Finance Authority, New Hampshire Housing, $365,000 from the Affordable Housing Program and a $475,000 community development block grant.

The development team consists of BMA Architectural, TF Moran, Chicoine Construction and the law firm Sheehan, Phinney, Bass and Green.

NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving lives in the region by providing access to housing services, revitalizing neighborhoods and breaking the cycle of poverty, according to its website.

It is affiliated with NeighborWorks America, a national network of community development groups working to offer affordable housing and improve communities nationwide.

khoughton@newstote.com


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