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Twin Pines building affordable housing for sale in Woodstock

  • Workers from Wright Construction Company and Valley Concrete and Construction Inc., prepare forms for the footings of a residential building at Safford Commons in Woodstock, Vt., Wednesday, June 30, 2021. Twin Pines Housing is expanding the development of multi-family rental units to include two and three-bedroom condominiums. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — James M. Patterson

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/4/2021 9:00:11 PM
Modified: 7/4/2021 9:00:13 PM

WOODSTOCK — Twin Pines Housing is adding up to 8 units of housing for sale at its Safford Commons complex, part of its ongoing effort to make home ownership more affordable.

Housing applications open in September for the new housing, where four of the units are under construction now at the complex off Route 4 in Woodstock.

The two single-story, two-bedroom condominiums will cost $185,000, and the two, two-story, three-bedroom condominiums will cost $222,000, well below market rates for such housing. A second phase of the project, which would develop four more units for ownership, will probably begin in the next two years, said Andrew Winter, the executive director of Twin Pines Housing.

Unlike the current Safford rentals, the new housing units will be for homebuyers. In addition to the income criteria, homebuyers will need to agree to a covenant to limit the amount of appreciation they can take out upon resale to 25%, said Winter said. This agreement will keep the unit costs affordable “in perpetuity.”

Twin Pines opened 28 units of rental housing at Safford Commons six years ago after years of legal wrangling with some opponents of the project in Woodstock.

But the new units appear to be welcomed by members of the business community, who say affordable housing is needed to enable workers to live in town.

“It’s affecting all of us,” said Jeffrey Kahn, a Woodstock Village trustee and the owner of the Unicorn gift shop. “We really had to scramble to find enough help for us over the summer. Any improvement in affordable housing is beneficial.”

As merchants struggle to find employees, economic development constraints in Woodstock have risen to “very serious levels,” said Woodstock Economic Development Commission Chair Jonathan Spector. Many employee incomes are too low for living options in the area, so affordable housing could directly benefit local businesses looking to hire.

The affordable housing deficit has hit food service companies particularly hard, Kahn said, and Woodstock Farmers Market reported that “any more housing here in this area would be wonderful.”

Buyers of the two- or three-bedroom units will have to meet income qualifying criteria, ensuring the homes go to people who need them. Incomes cannot exceed $66,240 in a single-person household, $75,720 in a two-person household, or $85,200 in a three-person household.

“I’m sure there’s some people that can buy it, and there are a lot of people who really, really need it, too,” said Safford Commons resident Janet Herrick, who moved there when it first opened in 2015. Herrick said her home was affordable then, but since her husband Joe died in August it’s been harder to make rent.

“I listen to Willie Nelson,” she said. “He says ‘you don’t get over it, you go through it.’”

Woodstock Municipal Manager Bill Kerbin said offering more affordable housing will benefit the town and potential workers.

“It’s definitively a need,” he said.

A “Keys to the Valley” report this spring from three regional planning commissions found that about 10,000 new housing units are needed by 2030 to meet increased demand for homes in the Upper Valley.

Spector recognizes that affordable housing can be difficult to talk about because different people understand it to mean different things.

“To some people affordable housing means providing housing to people who can’t afford housing and it’s a societal need... other people feel that they don’t want to have it in their backyard,” Spector said. “Another definition of affordable housing is housing that people in our community or people who are starting off in their careers can afford... The only problem is doing that in a way physically that doesn’t destroy the historic character of Woodstock.”

Working to that end, the EDC formed a housing working group late last year to target this issue. One solution is accessory dwelling units, which allow small housing units to be built on existing homes, such as an in-law apartment. With a significant population of adults with adult children, turning a couple rooms over a garage into a small apartment, for example, is an appealing option for the development of Woodstock housing.

Spector said he wanted community members to know that they “are working on it. We welcome their ideas, and any interest they have in pursuing projects in Woodstock. I think it’s going to take time, but we’re working on it.”

Jasmine Taudvin can be reached at jtaudvin@vnews.com.




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