Assabet students renovate affordable home in Southborough

Southborough Town Planner Vera Kolias thinks of the house at 209 Parkerville Road (map) as a win-win.

The town’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund purchased the property across from Finn School in the summer of 2008 for $180K with the intent of selling it as affordable housing. But first the house “needed a lot of work,” Kolias said. To do the renovation work and keep costs low, the town turned to Assabet.

Students at Assabet have done work for the town in the past – namely small projects at the police and fire stations and Fayville Hall – but they had never tackled anything on this scale.

“They’re practically building a new house,” Kolias said.

Because the project is part of the Assabet curriculum, there is no charge to the town. That means that, with the exception of a new septic tank that was installed by a private company, the only cost to the town is materials.

Kolias estimates the renovation will come in at about $70K, including the new septic system. “I can’t even tell you how much money we’re saving,” she said. “We’re putting in a second bath. We wouldn’t have been able to do that.”

The renovation is being funded through the Community Preservation Act.

Kolias says the students and instructors at Assabet have been great to work with. “They’re as excited about the project as I am,” she said.

And when she toured me through the modest 1945 three-bedroom Cape the other week, her excitement about the project was obvious. So was that of the team from Assabet.

“This is huge for us,” Tom Martinelli, who leads the electrical crew, said. “It takes what they learn in shop and puts it in a real-life application.”

The day I visited, the little house was crowded with about 30 students from the electrical, plumbing, and carpentry programs at Assabet. It was controlled chaos. Everyone had a job to do, and they all seemed happy to be doing it. From moving in a new bathtub, to wiring up electrical outlets, to hauling plywood, to clean up.

The Assabet students are scheduled to complete the work by the end of the school year, but Kolias thinks they’ll wrap up even before then.

When the house is finished, it will be sold via lottery to a family that meets the state’s income eligibility requirements. It will become Southborough’s third affordable single-family home, joining one on Gilmore Road and another on Cordaville Road.

Here are some photos from my visit to the site. Click on any of the thumbnails below to enlarge and view as a slideshow.

209-parkerville-12 209-parkerville-11 209-parkerville-10 209-parkerville-9 209-parkerville-8 209-parkerville-7 209-parkerville-13 209-parkerville-6 209-parkerville-5 209-parkerville-4 209-parkerville-3 209-parkerville-1

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John Kendall
14 years ago

I too think it’s a win-win not only for the Town, but for the Assabet students as well. Lots of people think of Assabet as “The Voke”, which has numerous negative connotations. I can tell you from the experiences that two of my kids had there, it’s a great school where you can learn a trade and get a fine education. I think more folks from Southborough should take a second look at Assabet with their kids before they make a final decision on high school education.

14 years ago

Thanks Susan! I was curious about that house…

14 years ago

That is fantastic. What a good story. I hope more houses in town are renovated and turned into affordable housing via this program. How about tearing down the condemned house on West Main and rebuilding it? I don’t know anything about it but it seems like a nice spot…

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