After 10 years of work, Kevin O’Connor finally cut the ribbon to open the first new affordable housing community in Woodstock, N.Y., in 30 years.
It was worth the wait, says O’Connor, CEO of nonprofit developer Rural Ulster Preservation Co. (RUPCO). Woodstock Commons creates affordable housing for artists, seniors, and families.
“Children can benefit from older folks, and older folks can benefit from younger people,” he says.
Twenty one-bedroom apartments are reserved for low- and very low-income seniors. Several of the seniors volunteer to run children’s activities like story time in the community center.
Another dozen apartments are reserved for working artists, but at least 20 residents are actively producing art at Woodstock Commons.
“Eight more artists snuck in,” says resident Avigayil Landsman, a fiber artist working in knitting and crochet.
RUPCO had to overcome years of resistance before it could build the project—including not just the state’s environmental review, but a separate environmental review from the town.
“I spent six years in front of the planning board,” says O’Connor. RUPCO also had to convince officials that seniors and family housing could co-exist in one development under Fair Housing Act laws.
The $16 million smoke-free project also includes a host of green features, including more than 60 geothermal wells to help heat and cool the homes, and no fossil fuels will be delivered to the site. It is one of the first projects in New York registered in the LEED Neighborhood Development pilot program.
“Walk in, and you get a sense of how much planning and design went into making this place beautiful,” says Landsman.