Cardboard covers the floor of the modest Cape at 209 Parkerville Road. Tools line the walls. Sawhorses are scattered throughout the room. The buzz of a table saw competes with the sound of hammering.
It’s a scene Town Planner Vera Kolias surveys with obvious pride.
Kolias, whose last day as town planner is today, was one of the driving forces behind 209 Parkerville Road — a house purchased by the town and completely renovated by students from Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School. The house will soon be put on the market as an affordable home.
“I love brick and mortar projects,” Kolias said. “Plans are great, but here you’re actually building something.”
Kolias said work on the house should wrap up by the end of April. When she toured me through the house earlier this month, kitchen cabinets were being installed, tile was getting grout, and trim was being touched up. Left on the to-do list was painting the interior and exterior and installing carpet and vinyl flooring.
A unique partnership
The house, which was purchased by the town’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund in the summer of 2008, was stripped down to its studs by the Assabet students. “They essentially built a new house,” Kolias said.
The town bought the house for $180K in the summer of 2008 using funds collected through the Community Preservation Act. Kolias said $69K of CPA money has been spent on the renovation so far, with a bit more anticipated for finishing touches like carpet. All of the labor performed by Assabet students was free.
Kolias said the project has been a success in large part due to the partnership with Assabet. “We’ve been able to do so much more work than we would have otherwise,” Kolias said. “Technical schools are a resource many towns don’t think of using, but they’re a resource that can make a project like this happen.”
Filling an affordable niche
Maureen O’Hagan of MCO Housing Services, a private company that handles lottery services for affordable homes, said she expects the home will be priced around $190K.
Kolias said the home will fill a niche in Southborough. “There are no homes on the market for that price, even in this recession,” she said.
O’Hagan said the final sale price and specific home-buyer criteria have to be approved by the state as part of their affordable housing program. Once the state gives its approval, the house will go on the market for 60 days. O’Hagan hopes that will happen this summer.
To qualify for the lottery, applicants need to be first-time home buyers with a household income of no more than $66,150 and assets totaling no more than $75K. O’Hagan said she also hopes the state will approve a local preference criteria to give priority to families who already live in town, or who work in or for the town.
“It feels good to fix up a house that a family will actually live in,” Kolias said. “It’s just a really cool project.”
Here are some photos from my visit to the site earlier this month. Click on any of the thumbnails below to enlarge and view as a slideshow. You can see photos of what the house looked like back in the fall here.