An affordable-housing development in which interest has waned over seven years has been rebranded to focus on veterans who qualify for aid to live there.
The 14-home neighborhood now will be known as Patriots Point, the development on a hill off Cony Road that broke ground in 2008 as Cony Village, a joint venture of Bread of Life Ministries and the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program.
It’s a strategy to attract veterans, who have had special incentives to build homes since 2013 at the development near Farrington School and three miles from the VA Maine Healthcare System at Togus in Augusta’s rural, eastern outskirts. Four homes are for sale there now, including two new ones.
Perry McCourtney, a real estate agent with the Augusta-based Sprague and Curtis real estate agency who is selling two homes there now, concedes that it has been “a little slow.” But he said the development could be “on the upswing” with the new focus on veterans and a stronger housing market.
“Whenever you see energy in a development, it’s synergy,” he said. “People want to go where they see energy and liveliness.”
The rebranding came after Bread of Life and KVCAP hired Christine Toriello to coordinate the housing development. Toriello runs the foundation started by Travis Mills, of Manchester, an Army veteran who lost his arms and legs in a 2012 improvised explosive device blast in Afghanistan.
“Interest had slowed, and we really wanted to put a new focus on supporting our veterans,” said John Richardson, Bread of Life’s executive director.
In 2013, the development benefited from two grants. The city of Augusta secured $500,000 in federal money for affordable housing — $200,000 of which went to Cony Village — and another $125,000 grant from The Home Depot Foundation.
Toriello said new homes in the development can be built for around $140,000 with veterans qualifying for grants receiving as much as a $25,000 discount. The first 10 veterans who build new homes there will get $12,500 as part of the Home Depot grant. The federal grant money has been designated specifically for veterans, but Toriello said it soon will be expanded to apply to all families making less than $35,000 in annual income.
“It should go to families and individuals who desire to get into a better housing situation or get into homeownership in a really affordable away and in a really nice setting,” she said.
The one- and two-floor homes, all with front porches, come with yard maintenance and stand within 17 acres of shared space in the neighborhood where condominiums, duplexes and a community center are planned.
The price and the location attracted Air Force veteran Jim Paulette and his wife, Amy, the Augusta parents of a boy born this week, to build there. With grant aid, he said, their two-story design will cost $175,000 when they move in next year, a deal he said couldn’t be beat in the area.
“It put a nice home that was designed exactly how we wanted it with the finishes down to the paint on the walls in reach for us when it previously was not.” Paulette said.