Laconia, NH – Carmen Lorentz will be the new Executive Director of the Laconia Area Community Land Trust starting in January. Lorentz will succeed founding Executive Director, Linda Harvey, who is retiring in May after 24 years.
A Lakes Region native and resident of Belmont, Lorentz is currently serving as Director of the Division of Economic Development at the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development. She was appointed by Governor Hassan in 2014, and was responsible for the division’s first-ever strategic plan, which resulted in new marketing initiatives for the state and new economic development services being offered to local communities and organizations. Prior to serving at the state level, Lorentz was Executive Director of the Belknap Economic Development Council.
“I am excited to contribute my skills and experience to the Land Trust’s mission of providing high-quality, permanently affordable housing in the Lakes Region," said Lorentz. "Affordable housing is an essential element of both community and workforce development, fields in which I have a lot of experience and about which I am truly passionate."
Lorentz and Harvey will work together for the first few months to ensure that the transition goes smoothly. “We are thrilled to welcome Carmen on board,” said Jason Hicks, Chair of the Land Trust’s Board of Directors. “And we are grateful to Linda for her continued service during the transition. We have all the right pieces in place for success in our first-ever transition to a new Executive Director.”
Linda Harvey of Laconia Area Community Land Trust has announced her upcoming retirement in May. Harvey, the founding Executive Director of LACLT, has been with the organization over 23 years and moved it from a fledgling start-up to an organization of tremendous success and impact.
“It’s been a privilege to be part of this wonderful organization, and I’m so happy with all the great things we’ve accomplished. I’m excited for the next leader to take this terrific organization to even higher levels of achievement.”
LACLT Board Chair Jason Hicks notes, “On behalf of the LACLT Board, we are extremely grateful to Linda for her remarkable service. As a sole employee starting with a borrowed folding chair, she grew the organization into a nationally recognized success story. Linda engaged local communities to recognize a need for affordable housing for its citizens and helped them provide it. She developed a vast network of committed stakeholders to create permanently affordable community assets. She assembled a team of highly skilled staff to provide programs of excellence and impact to thousands of Lakes Region residents. Under her leadership, LACLT has invested 87 million dollars into the community to build neighborhoods and change lives. We will be forever mindful and proud of her achievements and stewardship. It is with mixed emotions that wish her well in her future endeavors, and we transition to new leadership.”
Hicks and Harvey explain, “We’ve long had sound Succession Plans in place to cover planned and unplanned absences. So it is easy for the organization to draw from these plans in moving ahead.” The Board’s Transition Team is in place and has been working with a consultant to provide an effective transition process.
Since Harvey began, the organization has developed 277 units of permanently affordable housing. Another 89 units in three towns are in the immediate pipeline. 1000s of Lakes Region residents have participated in LACLT’s free financial literacy and homebuyer education services.
Last month LACLT celebrated the completion of the River’s Edge project in Laconia, converting a site comprised formerly of contaminated soil and blight into 32 units of permanently affordable housing. Linda and LACLT have won dozens of awards over the years, including the Lakes Region Chamber’s Irwin Award, Business NH Magazine’s Business of the Decade, Citizen’s Bank Community Champion, Lakes Region Visionary Award, Lakes Region Community Leadership Award, and many awards for excellence in nonprofit management. Linda was named one of NH Magazine’s Remarkable Women, Zonta’s Woman of Achievement, and one of the Lakes Region’s 100 Legendary Locals in Ray Carbone’s book of the same name, among many honors.
“I’m looking forward to focusing on my health, having more time with family and friends, and supporting the Land Trust in new ways. It’s an exciting time for me and for the Land Trust.”
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.
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