EXETER — Three major development projects bringing affordable housing to the Seacoast are receiving a financial boost this week to help make the projects a reality.
The Gateway at Exeter, Epping Meadows and McIntosh Dover Apartments were among the 30 developments chosen to receive a combined $49,506,378 in grant money through the state’s InvestNH Housing Program. The Executive Council is scheduled to vote Wednesday on approving the grant money, which would be funded through the Department of Business and Economic Affairs and the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority.
The Gateway at Exeter, which seeks to bring 56 affordable housing units to Epping Road across from the Mobil Station, was selected to receive $3 million. The McIntosh project will receive $2.8 million to help bring 52 new affordable units to Dover while Epping Meadows will receive $786,771 for 30 affordable units.
The Gateway at ExeterDeveloper to build 224 residential units off Epping Road
The government defines affordable housing as the cost being no more than 30% of a household income. The InvestNH initiative was approved last summer by the governor and Executive Council to address what BEA Commissioner Taylor Caswell described in an Oct. 24 letter to the governor as an “unprecedented crisis in housing availability.”
Darren Winham, the town of Exeter’s economic development director, said the Seacoast is in dire need of affordable housing as businesses struggle with staffing shortages. He said 56 affordable units coming to Exeter meets only a fraction of the need but is a welcome improvement.
“It’s a drop in the bucket, but it’s money in the right direction,” Winham said.
More:10 big developments — including housing and retail — that will change the face of Exeter
That is not to say market-value homes are not desired in the Seacoast as well, as Winham said any new housing can help the Seacoast economy find workers. The Gateway project will bring a total of 224 units to the Epping Road development, while the McIntosh project will bring 156 total units to Dover as well.
“We need housing period,” Winham said.
The entire Gateway at Exeter project will cost $80 million and include two buildings with the residential units, as well as a 50,000-square-foot commercial building. Plans are not defined yet for the commercial space yet, but office, retail and specialty uses were being considered this year, according to developer Tom Monahan. The project will be built across 17 acres of land with 43 separate acres of the land being donated to the town for conservation.
Winham said the grant money would be necessary for the project to be economically feasible due to rising costs for contractors, engineering firms, raw materials and other factors. Without the grant, he said, “there’s just no way this would be anything but market rate.”
“This is a big deal,” Winham said.
The McIntosh development is planned to go in the former McIntosh College property in Dover at 23 Cataract Ave. Last year, developer Todd Baker of Baker Properties said the project would include four multi-family apartment buildings.Baker’s firm purchased the property in 2018, after which he and his team became involved with the city’s zoning committee when it evaluated rezoning areas like the McIntosh parcel. He said this week that the process of acquiring the grant money involved thorough vetting.
Dover housing options growingDover housing options growing: Two big projects to bring diversity of residences to city
“They asked lots and lots of questions,” Baker said. “We really felt like our project was really well positioned, so we’re really honored to be among those selected so far.”