Four condos completed in Manchester

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MANCHESTER — Four new condominiums have been added to the Manchester housing market as part of a long-planned cluster of units, nonprofit developer Shires Housing announced.

After a dozen units of the planned East Branch Farms condo association were built in 2007, the financial crisis the following year paused plans to construct an additional eight units, according to a news release. In collaboration with the condo association and with support from the Vermont Housing Finance Agency and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, in 2018 — more than a decade later — Shires Housing embarked on a two-phase effort to finally build those units.

The nonprofit developer mainly manages and develops affordable rental apartments for Bennington County's low- and moderate-income families. The condo project, located off of Depot Street, behind Bennington Furniture + Mattress of Manchester, marks Shires Housing's first foray into for-sale housing.

"We were excited for the opportunity to create affordable homeownership since it aligns with our mission and we know there's a need for this," Stephanie Lane, the developer's executive director, said in the release.

Shires sold the first four condos last summer, and the four new units also have been sold. Five of the eight units, valued at $235,000, carry restrictions intended to make them affordable for moderate-income families, who received $60,000 in downpayment assistance to reduce the cost to $175,000. The other three condos sold without income restrictions for $265,000 to $275,000.

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All eight of the units feature three bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms, but the market-rate condos included certain add-ons.

"Vermont housing prices have risen faster than wage growth for several years and affordable housing demand continues to outpace supply, Maura Collins, executive director of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, said in the release. "This is a great example of adding density and investing in a downtown area and the condos will continue to benefit the community 'in perpetuity.'"

The project received $450,000 in revenue bond funding from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. "Especially as Vermont's homebuying market has so drastically changed during this pandemic, creating homeownership opportunities for all income levels is crucial," said Gus Seelig, VHCB's executive director.

Shires Housing does not have immediate plans to develop additional homes for purchase but would consider doing so if the opportunities arises, according to the release.

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