By Stephen Dravis
04:15PM / Monday, February 15, 2016
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The town’s new senior housing project threw open its doors on Friday to current and former town officials who helped make the project a reality.
On Tuesday, it begins welcoming its first crop of residents.
Highland Woods is a 40-unit affordable housing project built partly with town funds on land donated by Williams College. This week, it will begin welcoming the dozen former or current residents of the Spruces Mobile Home Park.
Most Spruces residents have long since found new homes since Tropical Storm Irene devastated the park in 2011 and certainly since the town assumed control in 2014 with the intention of closing the park under the terms of a federal Hazard Mitigation Grant.
Among the handful who remain at the Main Street mobile home park, at least six will be relocating to the new apartments off Southworth Street, behind the existing Proprietors Field senior apartments.
The bulk of the Highland Woods funding came from federally-funded, state administered low-income housing tax credits.
The town’s efforts to create replacement housing in the wake of Irene helped spur the development of the three-story Highland Woods in a remarkable period of time.
“We cut one and a half to two years off the funding approval time,” said Elton Ogden, the president and CEO of developer Berkshire Housing Development Corp. of Pittsfield.
Friday’s open house gave a look at project’s the one- and two-bedroom units as well as common areas throughout the building. Debra Turnbull, who has managed the Spruces for the town since it assumed control of the park, said those common areas — as well as the proximity to Proprietors Field and the town’s senior center — will help those Spruces residents making the transition create the same sense of community they had at the park.
Ogden said Friday that the apartments are starting to fill up, but Berkshire Housing is still accepting applications.
“At this point, half the units are filled,” he said. “We’re working from a good list of other people. But we’re definitely still in the marketing mode.”