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Years in the Making: Rhode Island Housing and East Bay CDC Celebrate Groundbreaking for Barrington Development

Sweetbriar Will Provide Much-needed Homes for Working Families

Barrington, RI (February 24, 2008) – Today Rhode Island Housing, East Bay Community Development Corporation (East Bay CDC) and the state Housing Resources Commission (HRC) celebrated the start of the construction of 47 new rental homes that working families in Barrington can afford. Plans for the development, called Sweetbriar, began in 2003, when the first permits were sought. The groundbreaking is the culmination of a three-year process to permit the site.

"Getting approval for Sweetbriar began as an uphill battle, right up to the state Supreme Court," says Kathy Bazinet, Executive Director of East Bay CDC. "But we proved to the community that Sweetbriar is going to be a great fit. Now, we have people asking us all the time ‘When is it coming?’ It’s exciting to know that everyone is looking forward to this. Soon 47 families will know the joy of living in a beautiful new home."

The character of the homes in Sweetbriar, located on Washington Road at the site of the former West Barrington Elementary School, will blend in with existing homes in the neighborhood. Each of the 23 new buildings will have front porches, parking in the rear of the homes, and common open areas for recreation. A new road and infrastructure will be built with ongoing maintenance provided by the town of Barrington.

"Sweetbriar is an exciting, innovative neighborhood that embodies our ‘KeepSpace philosophy,’" said Richard Godfrey, Executive Director of Rhode Island Housing, the founding partner of KeepSpace, a partnership initiative to build vibrant, connected communities in Rhode Island. "The community will incorporate attractive, affordable homes for local families, with open space for children and their families to enjoy. Located near shopping, commuter lines and recreation areas, this development will add charm and vibrancy to an already thriving community."

"This endeavor will also help provide much-needed jobs for those involved in creating it, a significant benefit in this economy," added Godfrey.

Financing for this $13 million project was made possible thanks to the collaboration of several partners. Rhode Island Housing provided a $5 million construction loan, as well as a $1 million first mortgage, $860,000 targeted loan and $500,000 in HOME funds. Red Stone Equity Partners provided $7.5 million in Low-income Housing Tax Credit equity for Sweetbriar. The HRC provided more than $2.4 million through their Building Homes Rhode Island program. The Town of Barrington set aside $175,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds. Sweetbriar also received a grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank, the application for which was sponsored by Citizens Bank. Critical predevelopment funds were supplied by Rhode Island Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).

"The Housing Resources Commission has long looked forward to the opportunity to participate in Sweetbriar," said Noreen Shawcross, Executive Director of the HRC. "With these homes finally coming to fruition, the Town of Barrington is making significant progress toward increasing its supply of homes that are affordable to working families. More families will be able to live and work in Barrington, and more children will have the opportunities offered by its excellent school system."

"In 2006, almost two thirds of Barrington voters voted for more affordable homes to be built. It is great to see our bond monies at work, providing needed homes for our working families and much needed stimulus to Rhode Island's economy. The building of these homes creates jobs, generates tax receipts and spurs other economic activity," commented Nellie M. Gorbea, Executive Director of HousingWorks RI – the coalition that supported the affordable housing bond which provides the funds for Building Homes Rhode Island.

When complete, Sweetbriar will consist of one one-bedroom apartment, 17 two-bedroom apartments and 29 three-bedroom apartments. The rents will be available to families earning 60 or 50 percent of the area median income. That would limit annual incomes to $43,920 (60 percent) or $36,600 (50 percent) for a family or four. The apartments will be the first tax credit family-homes in Barrington. East Bay CDC will also build three homes for ownership at the rear of the site which will be financed separately.

Don Powers Architects is the architect for this development and Nation Wide Construction is the general contractor. Construction of Sweetbriar is now in full-swing. The first phase of Sweetbriar is expected to be finished in August. The entire development should be completed during the summer of 2010.


Affiliated Sites

Rhode Island Housing Help Center HHFRI Rhode Island Housing Online Homebuyer Education HomeLocatorRI.net HousingWorksRI Fair Housing Rhode Island Equal Housing Opportunity