RICHMOND — Two affordable rental housing projects, one in Richmond and another just over the border in Charlestown, are progressing quickly.
Richmond Ridge and Shannock Village Cottages, now under construction by the nonprofit Women’s Development Corporation, together comprise the 43-unit project dubbed Shannock Falls.
Dean Harrison, director of real estate for the Providence-based developer, explained that the projects were in different towns, and therefore required different names for planning and permitting purposes. The financing, however, put together by the Washington County Community Development Corporation, was granted to both developments under the single name of Shannock Falls.
“In each town, each project had its own name for permitting purposes,” he said. “For financing, it’s all considered as one project."
Blasting ended only last week at the Richmond Ridge site, which is currently a sea of muddy ground, surrounded by imposing piles of rock. Women’s Development closed on the 62-acre property at 7 West Shannock Road in October and broke ground soon after.
“Right now, on the Richmond site, they’re basically getting the site ready, removing ledge, grading and just getting the site prepped for foundations,” Harrison said. “We think the foundations will start going in probably sometime in late April.”
Richmond Ridge is expected to take about two years to build. When construction is completed, the development will have eight buildings, each with a different number of rental units. There will be a total of 32 units, and a modest solar array will cover about one acre at the rear of the property.
“It’s not big. I guess it’s small compared to other solar arrays,” Harrison said.
Not far away, at 1639-A Shannock Road in Charlestown, Shannock Village Cottages, the second component of the development, is further along, with three new multiunit buildings already up and the historic house that was on the the property undergoing extensive rehabilitation.There will be three two-bedroom units in each of the three new buildings, and two units, one of which will be handicap accessible, in the house.
Harrison explained that unlike Richmond Ridge, Shannock Village Cottages, which occupies 4.5 acres, required no blasting, so construction could begin right away.
“The site work is very, very minimal. It was a lot easier site to start, being as compact as it is,” he said.
Nation Wide Construction of Woonsocket is doing the building and rehabilitation work, and the project architect is the Providence-based Union Studio. Local companies are doing the plumbing and heating work. Together, the two projects, which are being funded by the state, will cost about $12 million.
Questions have been raised about the viability of affordable housing in rural areas without public transportation. Harrison said he expected the Shannock Falls tenants to be working families with cars
“Here, we do believe that people will have their own vehicles,” he said. The organization has worked with the Rhode island Public Transit Authority, he said, "and if people need rides, they could call, but we don’t see that as being a problem out here.”
Harrison added that he expected that many of the tenants would be from the immediate area.
“We’re anticipating the residents to be local residents who are paying way too much for current rent,” he said.
“This gives people, basically, the opportunity to afford high quality housing in the area they grew up in or maybe they’re coming back to. We think we’re going to get people who currently live with parents that didn’t want to but have no other choices, so we expect to have no problem occupying all these units,” he added.