The Times West Virginian

May 5, 2014

FCDP breaking ground today on new housing unit

By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — In terms of homebuilding, the Fairmont Community Development Partnership is now working on a larger scale.

Between now and around October, the organization will construct three duplex houses — or six residential units — for rent on the 800 block of Virginia Avenue in Fairmont. Together, these three projects represent an investment of $1.1 million, said Lisa Darden, development/finance manager for the FCDP.

Today, the partnership will break ground on the first duplex, which will have the address 816 and 818 Virginia Ave. Each unit will measure approximately 1,070 square feet, and feature two bedrooms and two bathrooms, she said.

Darden said these two units will represent the ninth and tenth affordable rental spaces that the FCDP has created in Fairmont. The organization previously only built purchase homes and market rate rentals, which it still does today, too.

The other future duplexes will be 836 and 838 Virginia Ave., and 844 and 846 Virginia Ave. Each of these units will be 1,300 square feet, and have three bed

rooms and two bathrooms, Darden said.

Bob Gribben, executive director of the FCDP, said demolition of the existing buildings on those properties started a couple of weeks ago to make way for the new duplexes. In addition to the duplex houses for rent on Virginia Avenue, the organization has also built purchase homes there in recent years.

This is an historic area, and the FCDP is building homes that imitate the original historic designs, he said. So when people look at the 800 block of Virginia Avenue, the new homes look similar to the older ones.

The FCDP had been focusing its work on the Maple-Ogden area, which extends behind Windmill Park and to the Jackson Addition area, but felt that there should be some alternatives to that location, Gribben said.

“I pretty well stumbled onto the 800 block and realized the condition there ... and thought that would be a good place to kick off some additional good revitalization initiatives,” he said. “It’s taken us a couple years to get things lined up, but we’re at the point now where we see some very significant progress taking place. We also anticipate that it’s having a positive impact on some of the other residences in that area, so we want to continue working there.”

The partnership isn’t just improving the neighborhood, but is also providing quality, affordable housing for people who have low incomes and qualify, Gribben said.

He added that the partnership will likely build additional houses — probably purchase homes — in the Maple-Ogden area. For the 2014 construction season, the partnership has more on its agenda than ever before.

“Through this year, it will probably be the heaviest opportunity that we’ve had for home constructions,” Gribben said. “That’s a challenge, but it’s also exciting.”

He is confident that the organization will be able to see these projects through successfully.

Frank Day of Daycon Inc., based out of Philippi, has been the principal contractor for most of the work that the partnership has completed to date. All construction and demolition contracts go through a bid process, and design plans must be approved, Gribben said.

The funding for the various projects has come from the West Virginia Housing Development Fund and Small Cities Block Grants. That money has gone toward acquiring properties and either renovating the existing structures or demolishing them and using the sites for the building of new homes, he said. The Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh has also contributed funding to help provide handicap access for some of the properties.

Gribben said the FCDP will be going through the process soon to find residents for its newest rental units. There is a waiting list for people who are interested.

The partnership is also working with people who would like to become homeowners and may need to work on their finances or credit score, he said.

Email Jessica Borders at jborders@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.