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Easthampton’s Parsons Village funded, could break ground this fall


GORODN DANIELS
site of proposed housing development off Parsons Street, Easthampton (Parsons Vill

GORODN DANIELS site of proposed housing development off Parsons Street, Easthampton (Parsons Vill Purchase photo reprints »

The Valley Community Development Corp. purchased the property from Autumn Properties, LLC on Feb. 12 for $650,000. A few days earlier, the state announced that the 38-unit Parsons Village project had been awarded $2.53 million in Department of Housing and Community Development low-income housing subsidies and just over $1 million in federal and state low-income housing tax credits. In total, the state announced $67 million in funding for 23 affordable housing developments across Massachusetts.

Valley CDC Executive Director Joanne Campbell said the funding means the apartments could be habitable by fall 2014. She estimated the whole project will cost about $11.5 million.

“We’re happy we made the cut, even though we didn’t get everything we asked for,” Campbell said Tuesday. “ We’ll have to go back and look at the numbers and see what we can tighten up. But we’re very happy we got funded because there’s such a need for this housing.”

When completed, Parsons Village will include studio and one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, as well as a community center and small park, on a 4.3-acre parcel. The rentals are reserved for people who qualify as low-income; for a single person, that means earning $26,000 or less, but families can earn up to $50,000 depending on the number of family members.

The project received $200,000 in Community Preservation Act funding in October 2010. But the Planning Board rejected the project in Sept. 2011 after hearing from neighbors who argued that the project was too dense and would cause problems from flooding to overcrowding schools.

The CDC sought a different type of permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals in 2012, and that board approved it with conditions on Sept. 17. With funding in place, the project’s engineer, the Berkshire Design Group, can draw construction designs that will be used to put the project out to bid in the spring, Campbell said. When the bids come in, that will be the “reality check” on what the construction costs will actually be. They are aiming to start the one-year construction process in September. The project is expected to produce 71 jobs, according to the state.

If there is a high demand for the apartments, tenants will be chosen through a lottery that gives a 70 percent preference to people who live or work in Easthampton or send their children to the city’s schools, she said. “Hopefully they will all be occupied by the end of that year,” she said.

Other affordable housing projects that were awarded subsidies and tax credits in this latest round of funding include the Leeds Veterans Housing Cooperative in Northampton, which received $1.84 million in state subsidies to create 44 units of affordable housing for formerly homeless veterans; Chestnut Park in Holyoke, which will transform a former school into 55 units of affordable housing with $1.7 million in state subsidies and $990,000 in federal tax credits; and a project by the Hilltown Community Development Corp. that will use $2.89 million in subsidies to preserve 24 units of affordable housing in Williamsburg and Chesterfield.

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