Sunday, October 10 2021

SWANZEY – Walpole-based developer who plans to create 84 labor housing units on Route 10 is moving forward with this project, despite concerns about the cost of sloping roofs required by local authorities for new buildings.

Avanru Development Group recently launched efforts to finance the apartment complex, estimated at $ 24 million, the company’s president and CEO Jack Franks said on Thursday.

The company has since determined, however, that its project is financially feasible even with the additional cost, Franks said Thursday.

“It is sometimes difficult when you have a plan in place and you are asked to revamp it,” he said. “… But we did.”

Avanru hopes to move the project forward “as quickly as possible,” according to Franks. The apartments will be built as a public-private partnership, with the independent public agency NH Housing offering tax credits to financiers, he said. Avanru, which will pay a “significant amount” of the costs of the project, he said, is also seeking an equity investor to support the new apartments.

After the price of lumber and other building materials soared earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, Franks said he hopes those costs continue to fall as they have in recent months. . This would help reduce the price of the project by $ 24 million, he said.

Construction of the new apartments could start early next spring, he said.

Using this technique, known as modular construction, apartment components are built in an off-site factory before they are shipped, he told The Sentinel in 2019. This helps workers erect the buildings. buildings quickly, he said at the time, comparing it to a more complex version of Legos.

Swanzey’s new apartments will also feature energy-efficient technology similar to that used at Abenaki Springs, Franks said.

A 2017 report by the Concord-based Resilient Buildings Group compared several dozen buildings in NH Housing’s portfolio based on their energy use intensity (EUI) – a measure of annual energy use, compared to the total area – and found Abenaki Springs to rank lowest.

“We are very excited to bring a state-of-the-art facility to the Cheshire County area. [and] happy that this meets the needs of many people who need affordable, quality housing, ”he said.

Plans for the 84-unit development nearly stalled earlier this summer, however, after Swanzey’s town planning council voted unanimously to include the pitched roof requirement in its project approval.

Franks told The Sentinel in July that the initial design of the buildings was based on plans by another developer for a four-story apartment complex on Monadnock Highway that city officials approved last year. The project, which offered a flat roof, was “never subjected to the same level of scrutiny” as Avanru’s proposal, he argued, accusing Swanzey officials of treating his business differently because ‘she hopes to create housing for the workforce.

“They put such a heavy burden on this development and really made it difficult to progress financially because of it,” he said at the time.

Swanzey’s Director of Planning and Economic Development, Matthew Bachler, however noted in July that under the city’s site plan review rules, authorities can request architectural changes to ensure new buildings are “harmonious and compatible” with the surrounding area.

“We want to make sure that the new development is done appropriately and within the context of the neighborhood in which it takes place,” he said.

City staff were “ready to work with the developer” if they wanted to continue with the project, Bachler said at the time.

The development of Route 10 has also drawn criticism from neighboring residents, some of whom say it would tarnish the rural character of the area and reduce the value of their properties.

Avanru has also offered a 76-unit apartment building, accessible to seniors at affordable rates, on Old Homestead Highway (Route 32) in Swanzey, although this project has been mired in a legal battle for over a year in the past. subject to the Zoning Board’s decision to deny it the necessary approval. The NH Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case but has yet to render a decision.

Franks said Thursday he would “absolutely” continue to move forward with the project if approved.

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