Business & Economy

Downtown mixed-income housing development in Windsor gathers steam

The Central & Main development would be located in downtown Windsor adjacent to the Windsor Diner. Rendering via Duncan Wisniewski Architecture

A 30-unit, mixed-income housing development in the center of Windsor took another step toward breaking ground by earning selectboard approval last week for a needed grant application.

“We’re in a particularly good spot in Windsor to make this happen with all of our available resources, and it’s really important that we build homes for people,” Christopher Goulet, a Windsor Selectboard member, said at the Sept. 8 public hearing.

He cited the ideal downtown location of the project, called Central & Main. “It’s going to be a bit of a change,” he said, “but I think as a community, we’re going to land in a place that’s a lot more accessible, and the community will grow.”

The selectboard voted unanimously to support an application for a $550,000 federal Community Development Block Grant, which would help fund the development. 

The proposed project would be built on a currently vacant 1.02-acre site adjacent to the Windsor Diner. In its currently proposed form, the four-story building would feature a partial brick facade and garage parking. 

The housing nonprofits Windsor Windham Housing Trust and EverNorth are co-leading the project. 

Peter Paggi, director of housing development at the trust, said 23 units will be restricted for households earning less than 60% of median income, including five targeted to those at risk of homelessness. The rest of the units could be rented by anyone making up to 100% of the area median income. 

The development is on track to wrap up financing and begin construction in spring 2023, Paggi told the Windsor Selectboard on Sept. 8. 

The project has already received tax credits from the Vermont Housing Finance Agency that would support more than half the budgeted cost of $12.6 million. The tax credits will yield a little more than $7 million, Matt Moore, a senior development at Evernorth, said at last week’s public hearing.

Windsor previously approved $200,000 of American Rescue Plan Act money to fund the Central & Main project. The developers hope to secure additional funding from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the National Housing Trust Fund, Moore said.

Central & Main still requires approval from Windsor’s Development Review Board and Design Review Commission.

The Upper Valley area of Vermont and New Hampshire needs 10,000 new housing units by 2030 to meet growing demand, according to the Keys to the Valley report, penned by three regional planning commissions in 2021.

Currently, Windham and Windsor Housing Trust is also working on a 27-unit development in Bellows Falls, and is rehabilitating multiple apartment buildings at Phelps Court in Windsor.

Two towns north in Hartford, Twin Pines Housing Trust recently received planning commission approval for an 18-apartment development aimed at people experiencing chronic homelessness. A low-barrier shelter proposed next door by the Upper Valley Haven was denied approval by Hartford’s zoning board.

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