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New Territory: New Housing Options for a New Market

“This type of project is untested in this market,” said Savin. Spruce Meadows is one of the first mixed-income, high-density housing projects in Stonington, presenting both a challenge and an opportunity. Aware of the need for more affordable housing in Stonington, Savin identified the land on Route 1 as a potential location for new housing and worked with the property owner to create an option agreement: Spruce Meadows LLC paid a few thousand dollars to have site control. This allowed Savin to submit the application for new zoning regulations for that site and do the testing to ensure that the land was suitable for a housing development. The property was appropriate; the buildings could hook up to the city’s sewer system. 

Source: NeighborWorks New Horizons

Throughout the process of creating the vision for Spruce Meadows, Savin aligned the aims of various interests to ensure that the project would be successful. She honored NWNH’s mission “to provide beautiful homes for people with less housing choice.” She also understood the financial limitations of developing this project and set feasible goals.

Savin was mindful of federal and state standards for funding so she shaped the affordability levels of all the units to maximize her chances of competing successfully for government financing. 

Third, Savin worked closely with town officials as she recognized the significance of their point of view in the planning process. Concerned with the continued success of the development, she partnered closely with the town’s Department of Human Services, which agreed to screen residents within the lowest income bracket and offer them support services when needed. 

Source: NeighborWorks New Horizons

Last, Savin listened closely to the ideas, concerns and feedback of the community while explaining how mixed-income housing would be beneficial to everyone. Savin incorporated ideas from residents and officials and unified the town about the vision of Spruce Meadows/Spruce Ridge.

 “There was a huge educational piece,” she said. In order to garner community support, Savin listened to and addressed peoples’ concerns. She also explained the demand for rental, multifamily developments based on the demographics of Stonington. She pointed out the many people who work in the community but live in New London because they cannot afford rent in Stonington, and how the lack of affordable housing negatively impacts the local economy; “You can’t attract business if there is no housing available and you can’t provide housing if there are no jobs,” she said. Based on her familiarity with the town, she created allies in the local business and religious organizations and leaders as they advocated for this project from their viewpoints. 

A Deeper Look Inside Spruce Meadows

Next steps - Learn about Spruce Meadows, the collaboration between Stonington and Neighborworks New Horizons: