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Historic Pawtuxet mansion to be converted to affordable housing
Kelcy Dolan
Warwick Beacon photo
IN ITS NEXT LIFE: The Fair Street mansion, which has served many uses, will transition to affordable housing. This is a rendering of what it will look like when completed.

After a generation of being the exhibit hall for the State Fair and Cattle Drive, after years of being a school house, a residential home, as a senior home and then being vacant for three years, the Fair Mansion will be renovated into 10 affordable housing units by House of Hope.

By a unanimous vote, the City Council approved the House of Hope CDC’s zoning application to convert the historic house at 69 Fair St. in Pawtuxet into five apartments and build an addition for an additional five units.

House of Hope CDC helps homeless find more permanent solutions through affordable housing. They are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year.

The property at 69 Fair St. is in need of serious repair.

House of Hope purchased the building for $185,000 in November of 2012 and has since been going through the motions to begin construction. At the completion of the project, the mansion will contain the housing units in addition to a common area open to all occupants. A case manager will be on site five days a week to help residents get back on their feet. Residents would pay 30 percent of their income as rent.

On Monday night, House of Hope’s lawyer Kenneth McGunagle introduced the project and the parameters of the reconstruction.

He said, “With the restoration of the mansion, we will be saving a piece of Warwick’s history.” House of Hope received $231,107 in historical tax credits for the renovations from the state. About $2 million in grants and federal funds have been earmarked for the project, according to Taylor Ellis, the housing development manager.

The application calls for the rezoning of 69 Fair St., which is currently zoned as residential, to a planned district residential and historic lot. This would allow for walkways and parking to be constructed for the mansion. The addition will allow for five one-bedroom apartments. It would be in the back of the house attached by a breezeway to the mansion. The lawn and entranceway would be preserved during construction.

Jean Johnson, executive director of House of Hope, offered a heartfelt thank you to the council and the city of Warwick.

She said, “It is my pleasure and my privilege to be here presenting a beautiful project. We are proud of our efforts to help the most disadvantaged of our city, the homeless.”

She handed out commemorative books that told the story of numerous individuals who had been helped by House of Hope. The book had first been distributed at House of Hope’s 25th Anniversary dinner in May.

Johnson admitted she had always had her eye on the property, especially since House of Hope had renovated the adjoining property on Fair Street.

Johnson said, “The homeless and disabled need a bit more of a helping hand. We will have a case manager on the property and a common space. More than housing, we try and develop a community for these people so they can move on to independence.”

No one from the public spoke against the project, but Johnson addressed the issues she had sometimes seen in previous projects. She mentioned that occasionally people had been skeptical of the project and the individuals it would help.

“They become wonderful neighbors. They are very involved in their communities. We are going to continue this trend,” Johnson said.

Many of the council members, who have House of Hope developments in their wards, attested that the individuals involved in the program only add to the community rather than take away from it.

Councilman Steven Colantuono (R-Ward 1) said, “I have never heard one complaint from my constituents about this project. Jean, I really appreciate your efforts.”

Charles Donovan Jr. (D-Ward 7) said, “I just want to speak up for the good work you do. There was some concern when the project in Apponaug began, but this is a first rate and first class operation.”

Council members Ed Ladouceur (D-Ward 5), Donna Travis (D-Ward 6) and Camille Vella-Wilkinson (D-Ward 3) all spoke up to thank Johnson and House of Hope for the wonderful things they do for the city.

Travis said, “Helping families and restoring a historical building, it’s a double plus. You need to hear the stories from the people helped. They gain their pride back.”

When roll was called there were nine enthused yes votes. House of Hope received favorable action and first passage in rezoning the plot to begin construction.

Mayor Scott Avedisian said, “It is a wonderful project and I am sure they will get second passage as well. House of Hope does incredible work; they are one of the success stories of a non-profit. This is a very, very exciting project, especially because it is preserving part of Warwick. The house once served as the headquarters for the State Fair and now it will serve another generation.”

The council will consider second and final approval of the rezoning in August. The next step for House of Hope is to receive preliminary and final approvals from the Planning Board. The architect will be finishing plans and then the project will go out to bid.

Ellis explained that construction should begin at the beginning of 2015 and finish that same year.


Comments
11 comments on this item

Here we go again. We're talking upwards $2.5 million for "affordable housing". Some of the residents are on hard times. Others add it to their list of handouts. Drive by the other locations and you'll see people waking up at the crack of noon and wearing their "Warwick tuxedo" (pajamas) 24/7 smoking 2 pack$ a day. Part of the reason there are so many "walking dead" up and down the main roads is due to the proliferation of free social services out of Warwick. "Build it and they'll come"

That is West Warwick you describe. This is something that fits in there. Please don't confuse the two. Warwick is on the water, west warwick is on the crackpipe.

I totally agree BUBBABURGER, you are right and this is what is happening in Warwick. I agree that some of the residents are on hard times and really do need help, and that others are using the system. Mrs Johnson says that many become wonderful neighbors, but we know the truth, although many are good, we the neighbors that border these homes know the truth. We live near these homes everyday and we are aware of what goes on. The drinking, the yelling and the bad behaviors, the swearing, and many other issues. Many of these places are not being monitored by this organization. We the neighbors make no complaints because we know it will and does fall to deaf ear. The "Warwick tuxedo" is spot on. There are some of these homes that are getting the bare cleanup of the cutting of the grass, they remain with no curb appeal. No one spoke against the project, because when you do your burden with being seen as someone who does not care about the homeless, but that is not the truth. We are against it because of the very reasons given above by BUBBABURGER and myself. We see that these organizations care nothing about the homes and families that are next to or surround these houses. You never come to ask us if everything is good, because frankly you do not care.

Wow, BubbaBurger, I hope you never find yourself in a tough spot! There is a thing called the "working poor". Perhaps you should Google it, because it is a very common problem tin today's America. Well it's nice to see the Gaspee Mansion go towards a good use. Bubba, good luck to you, because Karma is a ........well, you know....

FALINA, please take a ride by 2020 Elmwood Ave, 23 Princeton ave, any liquor store that opens at 8am, or any mini mart that allows you to trade food stamps for cigs and keno tickets. You will see what BUBBABURGER is talking about. The only HOPE going into this house, is the hope for continued SSDI, benefits, free bus rides, and getting crunked every night...while you and I pay for it. I might slap a "House of Hope" sign on the front of my house and sublet it for $$$ as well. Back in my day, Warwick was a place that was virtuous and pure. We had Sholes roller skating, Mcmannis family restaurant, and a movie theater that charged $1 for admission. Daves Bar & Grill served grilled cheese sandwiches for $.99. They had better much food back then as well.....not sure what the hell happened there.

Ate a Daves Burger and fries about a month back. limpy fries and too much bread on the bun. yuk. sticking with 5 guys..

How do they choose the people who come into these homes?

Wow, Details and Bubbaburger (yeah, with a name like that I'd be interestedin seeing what YOU look like sir), what a bunch of uppity NIMBY's! I guess we should just eliminate every resident who doesn't look, dress or act up to your standard! How should we begin? Should we eliminate everyone who doesn't earn an income that isn't up to your rate of living? Should we implement a dress code and eliminate those who don't follow it? (Sorry kids & teens, that includes you too) How about mandatory health and vice inspections, so we can make sure our pristine Warwick citizens aren't smoking, drinking or doing drugs? (At least half of city residents) And finally, what should we DO with all of these wretched fellow humans not deemed worthy enough to live in your immaculate city of perfection? Should we ship them off to Providence? Another state? Or do you reccomend just eliminating them as human beings all together? I guess that just leaves Warwick for the last two remaining perfect upstanding citizens such as BubbaBurger and yourself. Enjoy! I hope you never fall upon hard times. There will be nobody left to help YOU out in your time of need, so I hope you and BubbaBurger are good to each other. Make sure you take care of that oh-so-important perfect yard of yours, lest someone look down their nose at your own ignorant self! As a city resident, I can assure you that I am more embarrassed at having someone like YOU as a neighbor.

Oh and BTW, I showed your responses to my friends and family. Your ignorance has inspired us to raise money and awareness for the House of Hope organization! Hopefully they will be able to buy many more Warwick properties in the future! Cheers!!!

Oh and BTW, I showed your responses to my friends and family. Your ignorance has inspired us to raise money and awareness for the House of Hope organization! Hopefully they will be able to buy many more Warwick properties in the future! Cheers!!!

Anyone who is interested in taking a ride through the Elmwood Ave and Norwood section of Warwick you will find a number of sober houses, Drug treatment centers and House of Hope. When people purchased homes in these area's, they did so because of good schools and the safety and well being of their families. Some families have felt disillusionment, because of the change in the environment of these areas, and no one with children and families can blame them. We do not know what the process is when people are placed in these homes and what background checks are done. We have come across drunken people, swearing and yelling, and the police has had to be called several times. We have seen men pissing in the yard, and garbage not being taken out for weeks on end, and begging for money at near by restaurants. Falina, I am sure if you had this next door to you, your tune and tone would change. You try to make people that speak out against these venues bad and uncaring, but that is far from the truth. They are realists. These organizations come into areas and care nothing about the houses they surround. They never do anything to make sure that the surrounding homeowners are not being effected in a negative way. They never ask!!! Many times they come into areas unopposed because no one knows they are coming until they have purchased the properties, and when we do know and ask questions we get people such as yourself the twist the nature of peoples true feelings as a negative, when in fact we just want the safety of our families taken into consideration as well as close monitoring of these properties.

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