By MIKE WILLIAMS
News out of Tuesday’s meeting of Pulaski Town Council is that the Claremont School Apartments project has been awarded another piece of its funding pie – enough apparently to put the project “over the top,” according to one councilmember.
Councilman Michael Reis – a town representative on the New River Valley Regional Commission – reported to council that on Aug. 25 the Claremont project was awarded $850,000.
The money goes to Landmark Development out of Winston-Salem, N.C., the firm developing the Claremont project, which involves turning the old elementary school into 50 multi-family units in the Town of Pulaski.
According to its website, the Regional Commission, with significant input from stakeholders around the region, has been working to create a pilot regional housing trust fund, using seed money from Virginia Housing.
A call for proposals solicited applications from Pulaski and Montgomery counties, with available funds totaling $1.8M.
An award recommendation was approved by the housing trust fund stakeholder group to award $850,000 to the Claremont project and $950,000 to a similar project in the Town of Blacksburg.
Funds were awarded as 30-year, 1 percent loans.
This latest award for the Claremont project comes on the heels of a $1,465,000 loan announced in March by Gov. Glenn Youngkin from the Virginia Department of Housing and Commmunity Development. That loan was part of a $93 million package to support housing projects across the Commonwealth that are estimated to create nearly 4,000 units.
In March 2021, the Claremont project received a loan of $635,000 from the federal National Housing Trust Fund.
When first announced in February of 2020, Landmark Development said it would construct 50 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments at the old elementary school.
Landmark specializes in rehabbing properties – including vacant school buildings – and turning them into affordable housing.
In over 35 years, Landmark has completed over 100 projects creating over 4,000 living spaces in old schools, factories and warehouses in Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland, Tennessee, Florida and Texas.
Reis said Tuesday that Regional Commission members were complimentary of the Claremont project as well as other things happening in Pulaski.
Reis noted that housing is not just a need in the Town of Pulaski, but throughout the New River Valley.
“We (council) have done a lot of good work to make this possible,” Reis said.
Town Manager Darlene Burcham agreed the Claremont project is now a “go.”
She anticipates those housing units being available within the next year.
Staff Shortage Slows Weed Cutting, Tree Trimming
After hearing several comments from council members about the need to cut weeds and trim trees in different areas of Pulaski, Burcham said the town’s staffing situation is to blame.
“We are aware of some of these issues, but we are very short-staffed,” Burcham said.
“We had two people leave Public Works unexpectedly and we just learned that a mechanic will not be returning. We already had one mechanic vacancy,” Burcham said, noting that some town equipment is being sent to the private sector for repair work to keep them operating.
“Particularly police cars, which suffer a lot of wear and tear,” she said.
“We know we’re behind on grass cutting and trees. We’d love to have people come work for us and help us do that work,” Burcham told council.
She added she calls in the same problem areas to Public Works when she is out on the road in town.
“We’re putting all the needs on a list, but we can only do so much,” Burcham added. “We’ll continue to work on the list.”
News and Notes
Burcham announced that the Friends of Peak Creek – at its annual meeting – had named Town employee Nate Repass its Volunteer of the Year Award winner.
Reis announced that the NRV Regional Commission had awarded Friends of Peak Creek President Cathy Hanks one of its Citizens of the Valley Award winners.
He said the commission award recognizes people throughout the NRV who have made a significant contribution to life in the Valley.