Affordable apartments slated for vacant city-owned land in Lebanon

Lebanon Apt Housing

An artist’s rendering of the proposed housing project at 20 Spencer Street in Lebanon, NH. (Courtesy City of Lebanon)

The city has finalized plans to sell a vacant downtown lot, which was once home to the city’s public works department, to private developers who intend to redevelop the property at 20 Spencer St., into affordable rental housing.

The City Council approved an agreement last week to sell the 1.9 acre parcel, which abuts the Northern Rail Trail, for $400,000 to developers Stephen and Jake Tamposi, of Hollis, N.H.

The Tamposi brothers are proposing to build an 80-unit apartment building that would be marketed to people earning at 60% or less than the area median income, or a maximum of $64,920 for a family of four in Grafton County.

A proposed four-story building will have 39 one-bedroom units and 33 with two bedrooms and four with three bedrooms. The plan also includes four “live-work” studios for artists, as well as street level gallery spaces and shared artist maker spacers.

Earlier this year, the council voted to partner with the Tamposis, who were among three development teams to submit proposals to the city for an affordable housing project on the site.

“This was a competitive bidding process and we had impressive responses from several developers,” Mayor Tim McNamara said in an email on Monday.”

A number of factors led the city to go with the Tamposis’ company, including the overall project design and affordability to tenants at different income levels.

“Workforce housing is something that we are passionate about and we welcome any opportunity to work with (community partners) to help fill the need for affordable housing,” Jake Tamposi said in a phone interview.

The agreement reached last week also calls for building a playground at 20 Spencer St. that the public can use. A portion of the money the city receives from sale will be used to buy playground equipment and make improvements to the adjacent Northern Rail Trail, which is used for biking, running and walking.

In New Hampshire, the Tamposi brothers’ construction portfolio includes affordable housing projects in Manchester and Concord.

Some apartments in the Lebanon project will be designated for people who qualify for federal housing subsidies, which are eligible to people in New Hampshire whose income is 50% or less than the area median income — or a maximum of $54,000 for a family of four in Grafton County.

The number of units reserved for vouchers has not been determined and will be negotiated between the developers and the Lebanon Housing Authority, Tamposi said.

Financing for the estimated $28 million project will come from federal housing tax credits, tax-exempt bond proceeds, and state grant programs for affordable housing projects such as InvestNH.

A small portion of the 20 Spencer St. property will need to be elevated to meet federal flood risk standards set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Properties below the floodplain are ineligible to receive federal housing funding, Deputy City Manager David Brooks said on Wednesday.

The timeline to receive approval of the land elevation from FEMA is unknown, Tamposi said. A project schedule submitted by the Tamposi Brothers in January estimates at least 10 months before a project site plan is submitted to the city Planning Board.

The city’s interest to sell 20 Spencer St. dates back several years.

In 2017 Michael Davidson, owner of the Lebanon-based company Ledgeworks, offered the city $400,000 to buy the property, where he sought to create 100-200 housing units and 20,000 square feet of commercial and office space.

But the council rejected the offer, largely because it maintained the property was worth more money.

In 2020, the council approved a proposal by Ken Braverman, owner of The Braverman Co. of Stowe, Vt., who sought to purchase 20 Spencer St. for $1.5 million to build a four-story apartment building with 94 residential units, 4,500 square feet of retail and commercial space and 146 parking spots. But in April 2023, Braverman withdrew from the project, saying that it was no longer financially viable due to hiring shortages and inflation.

In September 2023, the council voted unanimously to authorize City Manager Shaun Mulholland to seek proposals for workforce housing from both nonprofit housing organizations and for-profit developers, eschewing a broader request that would also be open to commercial or mixed-use plans.

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