Thursday, September 8, 2011

Easton's Redevelopment Authority and Merchants Bank Team Up to Accelerate Green Rehabs

672 Pine Street is one of the homes currently being rehabbed in Easton's West Ward

Posted by: Noël Jones

Phenomenal news: Ed Sieger reports for the Express-Times that Easton's Redevelopment Authority has just been granted a $500,000 line of credit from Merchants Bank in Bangor to help continue and accelerate the rate the of green rehab de-conversion projects in the West Ward and
on South Side.

In addition to the expanded street cleaning program, this program by the city is creating the most concrete, tangible improvements in the West Ward. These rehab projects improve the neighborhood in a few important ways:

1. They improve the façades, and therefore the look of the blocks for potential home-buyers
2. Each rehab helps to alleviate parking challenges in the neighborhood, as buildings are de-converted from  two and three-unit apartments back into single family homes, so that you have one or two cars parking per building instead of three to six cars per address on one block.
3. The finished product is a beautifully renovated home built with green materials and weatherized to drastically reduce utility bills for the new home-owner, compared to the rest of these oil-heated uninsulated historic homes, which are gorgeous, but can feel like a financial blood-letting in the heart of winter. The green weatherization attracts middle-class home-buyers who contribute to the tax base, balance out the economic demographics in our neighborhood, and take care of their properties. I'm so envious--one new rehab owner told me that her entire utility bill, including heat, in the dead of winter was only $120!

I have to say, Gretchen Logenbach and Michael Brett are knocking these projects out of the park. Logenbach has employed an effective clustering strategy, has managed to stretch the original NSP grant seed money into more projects than originally projected, and now has secured this additional funding to do even more. And we have to give credit to Mayor Panto on this one too, as his administration is definitely starting to take resident concerns about the blight in the neighborhood seriously, between the new anti-blight initiative, the vacant properties "Clean It or Lien It" program, and these ongoing green rehabs, in addition to the expanded street cleaning program.

We also need to give props to Merchants Bank, who seems earnest in wanting to support the community, as they have not only put up the money for these ongoing rehabs, but recently came on board as sponsor for Easton's annual Movies at the Mill film festival.

Here is the list of properties that have either been completed, or are currently underway.

Things are looking up!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a great program and when it was originally announced I thought it was just another publicity seeking thing but it keeps going and getting better everyday. Thank you Easton for caring about the housing in our neighborhoods and to Merchants Bank