By Jane Keller Gordon, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Behind the historic facades of 33-35 and 37-39 Main St. in Northborough, four families will each begin a new chapter of their lives. Habitat for Humanity MetroWest/Greater Worcester chapter (HFH MWGW) will convert these properties, located next to the Trinity Church, into four affordable, owner-occupied condos: a five-bedroom, three-bedroom, and two two-bedroom units.
On a cold fall day Nov. 21, a groundbreaking ceremony was held with HFH MWGW staff, volunteers and Northborough officials.
According to Deborah Huegel, HFH MWGW director of development, the project will take 12 to 18 months to complete. A Northborough Local Project Committee (LPC) is working on fundraising and community involvement. The LPC meets Wednesday evenings at 6 p.m. at Trinity Church, room 105, 23 Main St.
The Main Street facades will be refurbished in their original style.
“We will be able to accurately recreate architectural elements that need to be replaced on the exterior of the building,” explained Jon Bram, construction manager for HFH MWGW. “Northborough architect Tom Reardon (Reardon & Co.) is the lead architect on the project and is part of the Northborough Historical Society. He will be helping us to restore some of the building’s original architectural detailing.”
Reardon has worked with Ron Searles, president of R.C. Searles & Associates, a local design architecture firm, on the plans, “…to convert these old buildings into modern energy efficient homes,” said Tim Firment, executive director of Habitat.
In terms of the actual construction, Habitat will bring in licensed firms to deal with lead and asbestos abatement.
In addition to the organization’s skilled volunteers, Bram welcomes the participation of students from the Carpentry Department of Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School.
“This partnership not only provides the students with a valuable hands-on experience, it saves us thousands of dollars in costs,” Bram said.
According to Firment, Assabet Valley has committed to installing the updated electrical and plumbing systems for the project.
A few students from Algonquin Regional High School will volunteer as well. They have formed a Habitat for Humanity Club at the school.
“We are so grateful to our supporters and sponsors of the Northborough build, including the Town of Northborough, Northborough Affordable Housing Corp., Side By Side Committee, Sanofi Genzyme, Avalon Bay, and Raven Homes, Inc.,” Huegel noted.
Another cost savings will result from a donation of vinyl trim by Certain Teed Corporation.
Habitat has built affordable homes in 42 towns and cities in Massachusetts, including four in Westborough and four in Northborough. As a Veterans Build affiliate, Huegel said, “We have completed Veteran Critical Home Repair projects including two in Marlborough, one in Shrewsbury, and one in Southborough.”
“Our mission is to build homes, community, and hope,” she said. “Qualifying families must live in the MetroWest and Greater Worcester area and earn between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income. All of our families must complete 400 to 500 hours of ‘sweat equity’ and pay back a 0-percent interest-rate mortgage. We offer families a hand up – not a handout… With an affordable home, families will have more money to spend on essentials such as food, medicine, education and childcare.”
One of the Northborough units is designated for a veteran’s family, two for local residents, and one is general.
Volunteering for Habitat is a great way to learn new skills, make new friends, and give back to your community. No construction experience is required; training is done on site.
Northborough resident David Hamilton said, “Habitat has been a great place to volunteer. I have met lots of wonderful people, learned many new things and love being involved with building affordable homes.”
If you are interested in volunteering or contributing to the Northborough project, contact Molly Pietrantonio at Molly.Pietrantonio@habitatmwgw.org.
Photos/Jane Keller Gordon