Variances granted for several projects, including a small number of low-income housing units

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The former Angie’s Place on Union Street will be converted to low-cost housing for the homeless. Photo/Pat Grossmith

MANCHESTER, NH — Last week the Zoning Board of Adjustment approved variances for 207 apartments, with all but 11 of them upscale,  luxurious units.

Only Families In Transition – New Horizons (FIT-NH) requested variances that would result in low-cost housing for the homeless.  FIT-NH was granted variances to convert the former Angie’s Place, a homeless shelter for women at 434 Union St., into 11 units of housing for the homeless.

When the $1.6 million renovation is completed, it will have seven studio apartments and four one-bedroom apartments, each with its own kitchen and bathroom.

Michele Talwani, vice president of communications and marketing for FIT-NH, said the project will provide permanent affordable housing for individuals who are homeless who will pay 30 percent of their income for rent.

Talwani said the project has been in the works for some time.  The women who were at Angie’s Place, which closed early last fall, transitioned to longer-term housing in the community, she said.

“There is such a lack of affordable housing across New Hampshire,” she said.

FIT-NH has 270 units of affordable housing, 230 of them in Manchester with others located in Dover and Concord.   That does not include shelters it operates or transitional living housing for people in recovery.

The City of Manchester HOME funds and the New Hampshire Housing Authority Housing Trust funds are providing the funding.

Angie’s Place was named for Sister Angie Whidden, who founded the New Horizons shelter.

Rendering of Brady Sullivan Sundial Avenue project. Courtesy image

Brady-Sullivan won approval for a six-story building with 160 upscale apartments at Dunbar Street and Sundial Avenue.  Brady-Sullivan is purchasing the property from Velcro.

Attorney John Cronin, representing Brady-Sullivan, said the property is unique as it slopes down toward the Merrimack River.  They sought a variance to have six stories instead of five.  He said that under the zoning ordinances if it were designated an elderly complex it could be 10 stories.

He said the apartments are similar to those at the Lofts at Mill West Apartments.  He said the project would meet the demand for upscale apartments in the city.

The Timbers. Photo/Pat Grossmith

The Socha Companies received variances to build six buildings for 36 single-family attached townhouse units at 1140 South Willow St. in the city’s South End, close to the Londonderry town line.

The project is a continuation of The Timbers, which won approval for 160 townhouse units about two years ago. Those buildings are under construction, although Jeffrey Lewis said so far 20 units are occupied.  He said as soon as one building is finished, it is quickly rented out.

According to the company’s website, rent for the two and three-bedroom units are from $2,200 to $2,450 a month plus utilities.  The townhouses are gas heated and have central air conditioning.

New construction at The Timbers. Photo/Pat Grossmith

Three people spoke against the variances being granted for the South Mammoth Road project.  Mike Nackel of 375 Lucas Road said he was a main abutter to the Timbers development.   He said the development changed the character of the neighborhood which consisted of mainly single-family homes that sit on more than an acre each.  His property is seven acres, he said.

The project will double the density in the area. He said there was no reason the developer couldn’t abide by the single-family zoning regulations.

Yiannis Voyiatzakis and Elizabeth Voyiatzkis, both of 411 Lucas Road, also voiced their opposition.  Mr. Voyiatzakis said the board was making a big mistake while Ms. Voyiatzakis voiced concern about an increase in traffic.

Also getting approval for a variance was Amy Chhom for 720 Union St. so that the Bike Barn could relocate there.

She explained that the Bike Barn is presently located at the Factory on Willow, 252 Willow St., which is co-owned by she and Liz Hitchcock.  That building was once the Cohas Shoe Factory and later Electropac.  It is being renovated into a mixed-use of commercial and residential, specifically 60 loft apartments/artist studios.

The Bike Barn, currently located at the Factory on Willow, is relocating to 720 Union St. because of a lead abatement project. The Zoning Board of Adjustment approved a needed variance for the relocation. Photo/Pat Grossmith

As a result of that renovation, the building is undergoing lead abatement which means the Bike Barn has to be relocated for safety reasons.

Owner Tom Lessard said his family’s bike business was founded in the city by his father in 1976.  Alderman Will Stewart, an avid bicyclist and customer, spoke in favor of the variance.

The building already houses To Share Brewing Company and Sudsy Dudz Laundromat but the zoning does not allow for a retail store.