$13M Fair Haven Redo Takes Shape
by Melissa Bailey | Sep 4, 2012 11:59 am
Posted to: Housing, Fair Haven, The Hill
An overgrown lot on Grand Avenue is about to buzz with construction, homes are rising quickly on a razed block, and families are set to move in this month to revamped apartments on Clay Street—while the not-for-profit builder behind the project sets its sights next on the Hill.
The activity comes as Mutual Housing, a not-for-profit housing agency doing business as “NeighborWorks New Horizons,” proceeds with a $13 million mission to create 44 units of low-income housing, most of which is set to be ready by the end of the year.
“The project started a year and a half ago, so it’s exciting to see it come to fruition,” said Gloribell Lopez, Mutual Housing’s director of real estate development, in a visit to one of the construction sites.
The largest transformation is taking place on Murray Place, a former “paper street,” or alleyway, between Saltonstall and Wolcott streets.
With the help of federal, state and local subsidies, Mutual Housing razed nearly a good portion of the block between Saltonstall, Wolcott, Lloyd and James. It plans to build 19 new townhouses and one three-bedroom apartment (pictured in architect’s rendering).
Last week, crews were busy at work on two rows of houses lining Murray Place.
Ryan Gawel and Gunnar Steinle (pictured), of A & S Electric in Durham, packed up after a day of electrical work. Steinle put his “hole hawg,” or drill, away after drilling out studs to run electrical wires.
Day laborers from A. Secondino & Sons, the general contractor, swept up as a song by The Cure blasted on the radio.
In the rear of the construction site, crews fit windows into rectangles cut in the walls.
The walls came as pre-assembled panels, according to Lopez.
Seila Mosquera, executive director of Mutual Housing, estimated that construction would be done by December.
The agency has not yet lined up families to live there: It plans to put out a public notice accepting tenants later this year. All the apartments will be set aside for low-income tenants; tenants will be charged 30 percent of their income for rent, according to Mosquera.
Over on Grand Avenue, progress has slowed. After crews tore down a garage and three buildings at 255-259 Grand Ave., the work slowed. Tall weeds now flourish in the lot, which sits right on Fair Haven’s main thoroughfare.
Lopez said the site proved tricky because Mutual Housing is saving parts of the foundation. Crews took extra time to make sure measurements were right before ordering pre-assembled panels for the buildings, Lopez said.
Crews were set to return Tuesday to start construction, she said. There will be three retail storefronts and eight apartments. Those will be the last ones finished. They’re set to open in January or February, Lopez said.
Next Stop: The Hill
Meanwhile, Mutual Housing is preparing to open four buildings it has been rehabbing Clay Street. Tenants have been chosen for those; they’re set to move in between Sept. 15 and Oct. 1, Mosquera said.
With the Fair Haven project well under way, Mutual Housing is turning its energy to the Hill, where 65 run-down apartments await rescue. The apartments fell apart when the Hill Development Corporation went under. Mutual Housing stepped in to save them last year.
The apartments are in various states of disrepair: 28 lie vacant. Some will need gut rehab; others need more minor repairs, Lopez said.
Mutual Housing is awaiting from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development for 15 federally subsidized Section 8 vouchers to be used at those apartments, Lopez said.
That approval should come in the next month, Lopez said, allowing the rebuilding efforts to spread to the next neighborhood.
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