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Senior housing development planned for downtown Keene

Union Leader Correspondent

March 26. 2014 10:08PM

KEENE — Southwestern Community Services expects to bring its proposed three-floor, 26-unit senior housing development dubbed Westmill before the Keene Planning Board in May.

The non-profit’s other senior housing developments are perennially full, said Southwestern Community Services Chief Development Officer Keith Thibault.

This development would serve low to moderate income seniors, but senior housing is in demand across all economic levels in New Hampshire, he said.

“This demographic, the Baby Boomers that are just beginning to populate the demographic, it’s like a basketball in a garden hose,” Thibault said. “It’s needed in the area. We’re an experienced developer in Keene, so we’re marching forward to that end.”

Many of the units would be one-bedroom, but there would also be two-bedroom units as part of the development, he said, since many senior couples need an extra bedroom either for medical reasons or to accommodate an in-home healthcare aide.

The proposed project would be built over a Railroad Street parking lot that serves a similar Southwestern Community Services 30-unit senior housing development across the street and is already owned by SCS, he said.

“We’re going to keep that surface parking and build above it,” Thibault said.

The project is expected to total about $5 million and would be funded through three primary sources, a community block grant, New Hampshire Housing grants and federal tax credits a private investor would be able to use over 10 years in exchange for funding to start the project.

Thibault met with city planners earlier this month for a scoping session of the project in which zoning issues were few and far between, he said.

“If we are successful we will break ground on this right about this time next year,” Thibault said.

The development is also located along a city bus route and is close to downtown shopping.

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