By Keith Regan, Contributing Writer
Northborough—The Board of Selectmen March 28 voted to authorize giving $400,000 in previously reserved Community Preservation Act funds to the Northborough Affordable Housing Corp. (NAHC) to buy two Main Street properties that will in turn be donated to Habitat for Humanity to create four affordable condominiums.
The funds will be used to purchase properties at 33-35 and 37-39 Main St., which are currently owned by TriCo, an entity of the Trinity Church.
NAHC President Rick Leif said his organization has negotiated a discounted purchase price of $300,000 with TriCo. The two properties were assessed recently for $699,000.
“The asking price is very reasonable,” Leif said.
The two buildings currently house a total of six apartments but will be renovated, updated and remodeled into four condominiums with at least two bedrooms each along with consolidated parking and handicapped accessibility. The street-facing exteriors of the buildings—one of which dates to 1800 and was moved across the street when the Northborough Public Library was expanded—will be maintained even as the buildings are brought up to current code and lead paint is removed.
Tim Firment, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Metrowest/Greater Worcester, said the total cost of the project will be $800,000, with the town providing half of the capital and his association raising the rest through cash or in-kind donations.
Habitat would then sell the units to qualified buyers—those whose income is below 80 percent of the median income for the region—and place deed restrictions on them keeping them affordable in perpetuity. Buyers would also be required to invest up to 500 hours of “sweat equity” into the project, which will also get support from local contractors and the Assabet Valley Vocational Technical School.
One sticking point with the selectmen was how many of the units will be set aside for Northborough residents. Selectman William Pantanzis asked that all four units be reserved for local residents, but Town Planner Kathy Joubert said the state would likely not certify the units toward the town’s subsidized housing count unless half of the units were made available to the general public.
The board agreed to revisit that issue later in the process.
“To me, this seems like a good opportunity for everybody,” said Selectman Chair Jeff Amberson.
The funds the board released were set aside for future use by the NAHC by Town Meeting in 2015.