CHARLESTOWN — The Shannock Village Cottages affordable rental housing development had its official opening on Aug. 28 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by state and municipal officials.
Town Council President Virginia Lee said the 11-unit project, which took six years to complete, is the result of a collaborative effort to meet a growing need.
“How rewarding to be able to provide shelter, a basic human need, that is well designed, well constructed, thoughtfully sited and also affordable, especially in this time of rising costs of real estate and burgeoning need,” she said. "Without a mix of incomes and talents there is no community. It is heartwarming for this affordable housing to finally be a reality, given the many years of inspiration and dedicated effort from so many people that it took to get us here.”
Shannock Village Cottages, on 4.5 acres at 1639-A Shannock Road, comprises three two-bedroom units in three new buildings and two units, one of which is handicap accessible, in a historic house that has undergone extensive rehabilitation. Shannock Village Cottages was financed in combination with a second affordable housing project known as Richmond Ridge, just over the town line in Richmond.
Financed under the umbrella name, Shannock Falls, the two projects are expected to have a total development cost of about $15.6 million, according to RI Housing. They are managed by the nonprofit Women’s Development Corporation. Nation Wide Construction of Woonsocket built the cottages and is still working on the 32-unit Richmond Ridge project, where extensive blasting was required on the 64-acre site. Completion of those apartments is expected next summer.
Geoffrey Marchant of the Washington County Community Development Corporation has been lauded for putting together the financing for both projects.
“I am just lucky. I can’t explain it any other way,” Marchant said. “I was lucky, a couple of years ago, to hook up with Women’s Development."
Marchant said he had been determined to save the historic house on the Shannock Village Cottages site.
“I consider it almost a moral obligation to keep it,” he said, noting that it is a National Register of Historic Places district. "You shouldn’t be knocking history down. It’s a gorgeous building.”
Tenants will soon begin moving into the new Shannock Village Cottage units. The two apartments in the historic house are not yet ready for occupancy but will be available soon. The monthly rent for the two-bedroom units is $927, not including utilities.
Dean Harrison, director of real estate for Women’s Development, explained that tenants are required to meet certain income criteria.
“We have been getting people who are overqualified and under-qualified so we’re constantly battling that, but there is quite a demand for units out there still,” he said.
Former Charlestown Town Council President Thomas Gentz was a strong proponent of the Shannock Village Cottages and another affordable housing project, ChurchWoods, an eight-building affordable apartment complex for seniors that opened in 2017.
“The Town of Charlestown is involved in affordable housing and used a $1 million bond,” he said. “We used the $1 million bond for both ChurchWoods and the Shannock project. It was a labor of love and it took six years when I was on the council.”
Speaking at the ribbon-cutting, Lee credited Gentz and Marchant with bringing the Shannock Village Cottages project to fruition.