GUILFORD -- Algiers Village is buzzing with activity these days.
In addition to development of a new water line and rehabilitation of Guilford Country Store, construction is well under way on two buildings that will house a combined 17 apartments.
The residences replace two abandoned warehouses, and they are the result of a combined effort by a long list of agencies and nonprofits.
"It's just a great, community-driven project," said Connie Snow, executive director of Windham & Windsor Housing Trust. "You don't come across many like these."
The $3.5 million project comes a few years after renovations at the bright yellow Tontine Building at the corner of Route 5 and Guilford Center Road. Also owned by the housing trust, Tontine hosts seven apartments.
The new buildings are a stone's throw away at 71 and 91 Guilford Center Road. The first structure will be a traditional duplex, while the second will feature 15 one- and two-bedroom apartments on three levels with elevator access.
A majority of the rentals are geared toward low-income tenants, with a few moderate-income apartments mixed in.
The project is on schedule for opening next summer, said Isaac Wagner, the trust's director of housing development.
"Ideally, I think we hope to begin occupying it by next June," Wagner said. "But it's going to look finished before that."
The project is rooted in the village's master plan. And like other
The Friends of Algiers group owns and is renovating Guilford Country Store. Until a few months ago, the organization also owned the Guilford Center Road site where residential construction is happening now.
"They've been holding this for years," Snow said. "They held it for us until we could get under way."
The community group also took an active role in preparing the site -- classified as a "brownfield" due to a small amount of contamination from previous commercial uses -- for new construction.
"By the time we sold it (to the housing trust), the property had a clean bill of health," said Eric Morse, Friends of Algiers president.
Wagner cites many other contributors to the project. That includes a $510,000 Vermont Community Development Program grant; $425,000 from Vermont Housing and Conservation Board; $265,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and $81,000 from NeighborWorks America.
A tax credit through Vermont Housing Finance Agency will yield significant cash for the project, Wagner said.
Also, "the town of Guilford and the Windham Regional Commission have really stepped up," Wagner said.
That includes the town's involvement in building a new water line from Brattleboro to Algiers. Voters earlier this year approved borrowing up to $195,000 to further extend that line to Guilford Volunteer Fire Department and Guilford Community Church.
The housing trust is a financial partner in the water line, and for good reason: Officials say the new housing would not be possible without a steady water supply.
So the two projects have been carefully coordinated.
"With the water, it's been a complicated project," Snow said. "You couldn't have one moving faster than the other."
Windham & Windsor Housing Trust administrators don't anticipate having any difficulty finding tenants for the new buildings, pointing out that nearby Brattleboro also is part of the market.
"We've had people calling for years," Wagner said.
Morse said apartments are one piece of the overall plan for Algiers.
"The whole purpose is to revitalize the village," he said. "In order to do that, you need people and housing and commercial activity."
Mike Faher can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.