Wilmington plans property purchase for new housing development

The town of Wilmington has agreed to purchase a plot of land, which local officials hope to see eventually developed into a new six-home housing development.

The more than 9-acre plot of land is located on state Route 86, across from the former Wilderness Inn in Wilmington, and backs up to the AuSable River. The town is purchasing the property for $90,000 from June and Paul Coarding, who used to own the former inn.

The town plans to purchase the property using a $132,000 grant it received from the Northern Border Regional Commission. The town received the grant for the purpose of buying a property where it could install a decentralized sewer system. Wilmington town Supervisor Roy Holzer thinks any remaining grant balance could go toward the plans for a septic system and, possibly, covering some of the system’s installation costs.

The town has already gone through an appraisal process for the property, along with a preliminary approval process with the Adirondack Park Agency that found the property suitable for six units. He said that the town is working with the Essex County Office of Community Resources to explore installing a shared sewer system for the development.

“The stars are aligning,” Holzer said. “Let’s keep our fingers crossed.”

The town hasn’t actually purchased the property yet, but Holzer said he hopes the deal will be official by the end of the year. Once the town owns the property, Holzer said the town could secure some additional grants to install infrastructure there — water lines, underground utilities and roadwork — and put deed restrictions in place to make sure the homes built there would remain owner-occupied and never be used as short-term vacation rentals. Then, Holzer said, he’d like the town to turn the project over to a nonprofit, like a housing trust, to develop what he calls the “Homestead Housing Development.”

“The town — a government — shouldn’t be in the building business,” Holzer said.

Once the town takes ownership of the property, Holzer said the town would like to start accepting forms from people who’d like to be considered for one of the six homes. He thought the town might be able to get involved with some county programs to help people get homebuyer grants. But until the town owns the property, Holzer said, many plans remain “vague.” He said the town is staying open to the possibilities — he even floated the idea of handing over one of the lots to Habitat for Humanity to develop.

“The biggest thing here is getting the land,” he said. “Once we have the land, almost anything else is possible.”

Holzer’s “goal price” for the homes is around $200,000. He isn’t sure if the price is realistic, but he hopes the homes could be sold for an even lower price. He said the town wants to help people interested in purchasing the homes with financial counseling and seeking home loans with a low interest rate.

Holzer said the six homes could be available for existing residents or people who are hoping to make a home in Wilmington. Holzer also hopes the Homestead Housing Project could be a model for future projects around Wilmington and increase the housing stock for “the next generation of people who want to live here.”

Holzer thought the town started working towards the housing project shortly after he because town supervisor in 2019, and he said this latest progression has been a “long time coming.” Holzer has lived in Wilmington his whole life, and he said he’s noticed the need for more “obtainable” housing for locals.

After purchasing the property, Holzer said the town is planning to dedicate the Homestead Housing Development to the Coardings’ son Shawn, who died unexpectedly in 2006.. He was 24 years old.

Wilmington is one of a few local municipalities with upcoming or evolving affordable housing projects. The McKenzie Overlook — a 60-unit apartment complex in Lake Placid — is nearing completion this fall, and the town of Keene is testing a plot of land on Gilmore Hill to see if it could support an affordable housing development.


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