Federal Block Grant to Aid Renovation Project in New Hampshire Town

Dec 27, 2011

A New Hampshire developer plans to renovate two mostly-abandoned apartment buildings in Franklin and turn them into affordable housing for working class families. The company, New England Family Housing, plans to buy the 30-unit building for $615,000.

Kevin Lacasse, who owns the company, told the Concord Monitor that the he buildings, which were constructed in the 1970s, have not had any major improvements for several decades.

“It’s been severely run down and kind of deteriorating,” he said of the buildings, full of avocado green countertops and blue shag rugs.

But the problems are more than cosmetic: faulty electrical outlets, inadequate smoke and carbon monoxide detection, mold, broken doors, a failing roof and a crumbling parking lot. Material from unoccupied units has been ripped out and used to maintain occupied ones, and water damage has forced gutting some walls down to the studs, Lacasse said.

“The cost to rehabilitate the buildings could be as high as $650,000. That, plus the cost to buy, would exceed the property’s value, Lacasse said.”

“It’s just continued to decline and … (has become) a last-resort place to live,” Lacasse said. Only eight of the 30 units — 15 per building — are occupied, he said, and crime has filled the vacuum.”

Lacasse is applying for a $500,000 federal block grant to help pay for the renovation. Franklin Police told the Monitor that the blighted buildings have been an active area for drug dealing and other crime. Once the buildings are completed, they are to remain affordable for 20 years.