On August 19th, 2016 the Laconia Area Community Land Trust (LACLT) celebrated the completion of River’s Edge with a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house.
Jason Hicks, LACLT Board Chair, welcomed a packed room of 100+ LACLT members and supporters. He thanked all the people and organizations that made this project possible and called it LACLT’s “crowning achievement.”
Mayor Ed Engler was on hand to share the distant and recent history of the site. After a private developer abandoned plans to redevelop the site, the Planning Department turned to LACLT. Engler spoke on behalf of the city, saying for 20 years, a procession of mayors, councilors, and administrators have viewed the Land Trust as “an extremely valuable partner” who has a “glorious history of turning something that wasn’t into something that is.”
In 2004 LACLT re-developed the old Vernitron factory across the street from River’s Edge. Millview, an apartment complex of 18 units, was re-developed at the request of the city and also required the removal of highly contaminated soil.
Dean Christon, Executive Director of New Hampshire Housing, touted River’s Edge as “a special project” that re-purposed a hazardous vacant space and added to the affordable housing stock. He stated that “this has been a very challenging project that required creativity and tenacity.”
Paul Weech, Chief Executive Officer of NeighborWorks® America, a congressionally chartered non-profit corporation that supports 247 organization like LACLT throughout the country, said that LACLT “stands out amongst the 247.”
Last to speak, but certainly one of the most memorable, was Erin Weller from the LACLT Board of Directors. Erin came to LACLT as a working but homeless single mother. She entered LACLT’s Transitional Housing Program and upon successfully graduating from the program, she moved into one of LACLT’s permanently affordable units. She then took financial literacy and homebuyer education programs offered by LACLT. Today, she is currently under contract for her first home! After a large applause Erin stated, “If someone had asked me five years ago what would happen if I applied to be homeowner, I would have told them I didn’t have a chance. But because of the Land Trust, I am almost there.” Weller welcomed the new River’s Edge tenants to the LACLT family and urged them to take advantage of what LACLT has to offer.
River’s Edge includes 32 fully accessible apartments; 12 one-bedroom and 20 two-bedroom units, leased at permanently affordable rents. The building includes a community day care facility for infants aged between six-weeks and 18 months that will be run by Lakes Region Community Child Care. The building also includes our HOMEteam office and classroom that will be used for homeownership and financial literacy classes and one-on-one counseling.
The three-story building overlooks the Winnipesaukee River just above the Avery Dam, offering views of the Busiel Mill and Belknap Mill and adds 700 feet to the downtown river walk.
The building is within walking distance of downtown restaurants, stores, schools, churches, the hospital, a grocery store, and more. “The property illustrates so much of what we talk about with community development,” said Weech. “It’s not just creating a home, but a home that is connected to amenities. A home that is safe and secure and part of the bigger community.”
To close the ceremony some key people were recognized and given a token of appreciation. The project Visionary Award was presented to the Hickey family in honor of George Hickey. He was a great friend and architect to LACLT for over 20 years. George designed River’s Edge and passed away suddenly before he could see his design become a reality.
Project Heros include Jim Menihane, Rob Dapice and Shaun Malone of New Hampshire Housing; Jonathan Smith of Warren Street Architects; Chip Elliott of Eckman Construction; Kevin Leonard of Northpoint Engineering; and Courtney Moore of TLCM Environmental Engineering.
The Good Neighbor Award was given to Joseph Gonzalez who was a supporter of the project since the beginning.
Funding partners for River’s Edge are: New Hampshire Housing, Raymond James, NeighborWorks America, Rural LISC, Community Development Finance Authority, Belknap County, City of Laconia, and Laconia Area Community Land Trust.
If you are or someone you know is interested in renting, contact Danielle Maslbas of The Hodges Companies at (800) 724-4686 or email email@example.com
Meredith Village Savings Bank, Franklin Savings Bank, Mainstay Technologies, and EPTAM Plastics have been longtime supporters of the Laconia Area Community Land Trust (LACLT). They recently continued their support with a combined purchase of $37,500 in state tax credits issued by NH Community Development Finance Authority (CDFA).
Melissa Mansfield of Franklin Savings Bank states the Bank “is proud to be a sponsor of the Laconia Area Community Land Trust through the purchase of Housing Futures Fund Tax Credits. Supporting the mission and initiatives of the Land Trust through tax credits is a win-win for both the businesses and the communities of the Lakes Region. Franklin Savings Bank is honored to play a role in achieving the Land Trust’s mission of assisting low to moderate income families achieve economic self-sufficiency through the development of permanent affordable housing opportunities.”
LACLT is grateful for this donation supporting LACLT’s efforts in the River’s Edge project in downtown Laconia, providing 32 permanently affordable and fully accessible units for persons of modest means. This redevelopment of an abandoned industrial site brings new life to the downtown and significantly increases the tax base. The property is tremendously improved with the hazardous waste mitigation, green design elements, and the public river walk that will connect to the WOW trails.
Photo: Housing Futures Fund Tax Credit Donors (L to R): Ryan Barton of Mainstay Technologies, Jeffery Savage and Melissa Mansfield of Franklin Savings Bank, and Jason Hicks of Meredith Village Savings Bank stand in front of LACLT’s current project – River’s Edge (EPTAM Plastics not pictured).
We celebrate these local businesses that care about the community and the people in it. Thanks to them we sold $373,850 in state tax credits! These funds were matched by our national partner NeighborWorks® America. Thanks to the tireless volunteer leadership of Eliza Leadbeater we have completed our Portfolio Strengthening Tax Credit sale.
LACLT is using the funds to upgrade and refinance the first 60 units of permanently affordable housing we developed. This investment will allow for improved properties, improved fiscal performance, stabilized rents, and secure homes.
Through this Portfolio Strengthening Initiative we have replaced porches and roofs and completed minor and gut rehabs. Additionally, we installed a new manufactured home at Frances Court in Meredith which is highlighted in more detail on page three.
Since beginning 23 years ago we’ve been honored to work with hundreds of partners to support our growth from a fledgling start-up to a strong, successful, award-winning organization. However, we are still a small nonprofit that relies on the support of the local community. With business partners to leverage our resources, we are able to accomplish far more than we could on our own. We are grateful for their generosity and support.
Meredith Village Savings Bank
Melcher & Prescott Insurance
Franklin Savings Bank
Gary Chicoine Construction
EPTAM Plastics, Ltd.
Laconia Clinic, P.C.
Common Man Family
Mill Falls at the Lake
RFS Engineering, P.C.
Belknap Landscape Company, Inc.
Jeremy Hiltz Excavating, Inc.
Mainstay Technologies, LLC
Robert H. Irwin Motors, Inc.
Wescott, Dyer, Fitzgerald & Nichols, PA
Eckman Construction Company, Inc.
Malone, Dirrubo, & Co.
Boulia-Gorrell Lumber Co., Inc.
Hunter Homes, Inc.
Stewart Associates Architects, LLC
Dr. Downing, DMD