More than 100 people – including project partners, city officials, new Hyacinth residents and neighbors – joined Avesta in marking the creation of these new affordable homes. The $9.6 million project created jobs for more than 300 workers who were paid wages of $1.6 million, and generated more than $3.3 million in building material purchases.
In her remarks to the crowd, Westbrook Mayor Colleen Hilton praised city staff and boards for their hard work and vision in helping to bring the project to completion. “Hyacinth Place is simply beautiful,” she said. “To see the type of life happening here is really refreshing,” she said, adding that “there’s no shortage of housing need in our community.” The reuse of these buildings also brings nearly $50,000 in new annual revenue to the city through property taxes.
Maine State Historian Earle Shettleworth gave attendees a history of the St. Hyacinth school and convent buildings, built in 1893 and 1922, respectively. “The school and the convent’s substantial appearance made an important statement to Westbrook about the presence and the permanence of parochial education in this community,” he said. He called Hyacinth Place “a creative transformation of two National Register buildings.”
Hyacinth resident Monique Rodrigue spoke next and told the audience about her excitement at finding Hyacinth Place when she and her husband were looking for a place to live. Monique spoke highly of her new community and the connections she’s made there, including becoming a substitute teacher for Westbrook and volunteering her time as a tutor for children.
About Hyacinth Place
Hyacinth Place provides efficiency, 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments to households making 50% and 60% of area median income. Residents began moving into the property in September 2013. The property’s amenities include a community room with kitchenette and free Wi-Fi, 24-hour emergency maintenance, a Resident Service Coordinator, on-site laundry, and a number of green features, including a high-efficiency heating system, highly insulated buildings, Energy Star appliances and lighting, and low-VOC materials.
The revitalization of the former St. Hyacinth buildings restored them as important neighborhood anchors – and served as a catalyst for other neighborhood improvements. Through this project, Avesta added a jogging path, benches, soccer goals and a refurbished swing set to the adjacent Walker Field, enhancing this downtown green space as a community hub. Partnerships with city and local officials will bring Little League games and community gardens to the field.