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Arch Street in the News : The Providence Journal

Clark Biscuit Feature
Preservation Massachusetts
Arch Street brings right ingredients for Clark Biscuit rehab
St. Ann's Apartments in The Valley Breeze
St. Ann's Apartments in The Providence Journal
St. Ann's Apartments in The Woonsocket Call
St. Ann's Apartments in Rhode Island Housing
NH&RA Announces Finalists for 2007 Historic Rehabilitation Awards
December 12, 2006
New Home, Fresh Start
St. Ann’s Apartments provides affordable housing for 25 families
By Kia Hall Hayes, Journal Staff Writer

Woonsocket – Forget champagne, Nidia Rodriguez says she’ll ring in 2007 by moving into her new home. “It’ll start the New Year,” Rodriguez, 34, said of her three-bedroom unit at the former St. Ann Church complex, which house a Catholic school and a convent in the early 1900s.

For months, Rodriguez, who lives in Providence, had been looking for relief from the $900 a month she currently spends for her three-bedroom apartment off Branch Avenue, but everything she found was too expensive.

Her search ended last month when she found St. Ann’s Apartments, the rehabilitated church buildings that will provide affordable housing for 25 low-to-moderate-income families. Each unit includes architectural details from the original structure, which was built in 1896, as well as large windows, high ceilings and glistening hardwood floors.

It has a walk-in closet, literally!” Rodriguez, who works at Rhode Island Housing, said during a tour of her new place. Her apartment will cost roughly one-third of her monthly salary, around $800 a month. Rodriquez’ place is also the only split-level apartment in the complex, with the kitchen and living room on the first floor and three sunny bedrooms on the second level.

“I fell in love with it: it’s beautiful,” said Rodriguez, who plans to move in early next month with her three children: Kaila, 10, Yesenia, 14, and Xavier, 16. She said they’re excited about the move.

The Gaulin Avenue and Cumberland Street buildings were converted by Massachusetts-based Arch Street Development LLC, which conceived the $7.1 million project four years ago.

“We’ve tried to create units that residents would be proud to own for a very long time,” Colin O’Keeffe, a principal of the company, said during yesterday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Made possible through $846,000 in grants from Rhode Island Housing; $175,000 from the state Neighborhood Opportunities Program, which creates affordable homes for low-income workers and people with disabilities; $5.7 million in state and federal tax credits through Boston Capital; and $96,000 for lead remediation from the City of Woonsocket, the apartments mean much more than walls, brick and mortar, U.S. Representative Kennedy said.

“It will actually be a place where someone can call home, where they can raise their family, where they can be safe and secure,” he said.

Senator Jack Reed said the project represents a wonderful collaboration between developers, community leaders, and federal and state resources in addressing the issue of affordable housing, a need which has become more urgent than ever before.

Rental properties have become a significant expense even for moderate-income families, he said. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Woonsocket is $965. The same apartment cost about $845 last year. Rents at St. Ann’s, by contrast, will range from $523 for a one-bedroom apartment to $887 for a three-bedroom unit.

“We all recognize the need all across the state and the nation for affordable housing,” Reed said.

Rhode Island Housing spokesman Chris Barnett said more than 100 applications have been received and only a few apartments are still available. An open house on the property is being held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.