Gile Hill Complex To Add Additional Affordable Housing
Paula Anderson arrives to pick up her grandson Jaydin Smerdon, 11, who was playing at a friend’s house at the Gile Hill Apartments Friday. Anderson recently moved from White River Junction to her own apartment at Gile Hill where her daughter also lives. The complex has received tax credits that will allow the addition of 15 two-bedroom apartments to the site. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Gile Hill Apartments approaches completion after about 10 years of development at the site Friday. The complex will add 15 two bedroom apartments after receiving a Low Income Housing Tax Credit. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
A foundation sits incomplete at Gile Hill Apartments in Hanover last week. The site has been under development for 10 years and will soon add 15 two bedroom apartments. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover — The Gile Hill complex, a mixed-income facility that includes affordable housing units, is finally close to completion after a real estate downturn caused the development to rethink its landscape.
With the aid of low income housing tax credits from New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, 15 two-bedroom apartments will be added to the complex, 13 of which will be targeted at households that make less than 60 percent of the area’s median income. The project is expected to cost $3.5 million. In addition, Gile Hill’s developers plan to add eight condominiums, effectively finishing the housing project a decade after it began.
The Gile Hill complex originated in the early 2000s when residents at Hanover Town Meeting decided they wanted to use the land for affordable housing. The land was later donated by the town for that purpose.
The original plan called for 120 units, 61 would be apartments while 59 would be condominiums. To fill the mixed used purpose of the project, 46 of the apartments would be affordable housing, while 15 would be market rate. As for the condominiums, 14 were supposed to be affordable housing and 45 would be sold at market rate.
However, with the financial downturn, condominiums became less desirable and the project came to a standstill as the developers realized there wasn’t a market for the 59 condominiums it had planned.
Twin Pines Housing Trust, a White River Junction-based nonprofit, is the developer for Gile Hill and it has completed 97 of the planned 120 units. In an effort to hit the total number originally intended, the developer intends to create fewer condominiums and more apartments. Instead of 61 apartments and 59 condominiums, the complex will have 76 rental units and 44 condominiums.
“If anything, I think one of the things that’s become clear is just how difficult it can be to develop affordable housing,” said Andrew Winter, executive director of Twin Pines.
On average, people who have a annual income between $24,000 to $40,000 could qualify to live at Gile Hill depending on the number of people in the household, according to the Gile Hill website. For example, a two-person household making up to $33,180 a year would be 60 percent of the area’s median income, and rent for a one-bedroom apartment would be about $600.
Winter said he hopes construction on the 15 apartments can begin next summer. In addition, there are plans to build eight additional condominiums, financed separately from the apartments, which will bring the complex to completion at 120 units.
Hanover Town Manager Julia Griffin said she’s excited to see the project come to a close because Hanover is always looking at ways to increase its affordable housing options.
“We were concerned when the project had to be put on hold,” Griffin said. “We knew why, but just as the project got started, that’s when the real estate market bottomed out.”
There’s a particular focus on increasing affordable housing near Advance Transit stops and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. The town is also focusing on creating a housing stock that is in walking or biking distance of downtown to take pressure off Hanover’s main streets.
Gile Hill is only a mile away from the Lebanon Co-op and it’s off Medical Center Drive, which abuts the DHMC complex. There are sidewalks between Gile Hill and the hospital that make it easy to walk or bike the two complexes.
And Griffin stressed that the affordable housing need is significant in Hanover.
“You have lots of folks who are doing long commutes but would love to be living in the Hanover area if it’s affordable and possible,” Griffin said. “Part of our job is to ensure that we have housing opportunities when they’re looking for it.”
Winter said he is very grateful for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit because gaining that critical piece is often the hardest part of getting affordable housing off the ground. If Gile Hill hadn’t been awarded the tax credit, Winter said he would have reapplied next year and it would likely have delayed the project.
“You have a number of for profit and nonprofit developers in both New Hampshire and Vermont who are competing for tax credits, so getting allocation like this is a significant win for the Upper Valley,” Winter said.
Twin Pines won’t use the tax credit itself, but instead it will sell the credit to investors who will become partners. Twin Pines expects to earn roughly $2 million from the sale of those credits to use toward the development. Winter said he is talking to lenders about securing the remaining $1.5 million needed to build the 15 apartments.
Chris Miller, a managing director for New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, said there is a host of criteria that an applicant must meet in order to qualify for the tax credit, and there were certain pieces of Twin Pines’ application that made it stick out. For example, it’s part of a municipal strategy for affordable housing and it helps that Twin Pines is a nonprofit.
“This will allow the project to come to a conclusion and finish out,” Miller said. “It will no longer have that incomplete quality to it.”
Sarah Brubeck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3223.