HAC in the News Archives

Labor of love finally pays off in Sandwich

Posted on Thu, May 14, 2009

SANDWICH — It would have been easy for developer Kevin O'Haire to walk away from the five affordable homes he planned to build off Asa Meiggs Road.

He had to convince neighbors the five affordable houses and five market houses — all considered starter homes — on 5 acres would not blight their South Sandwich neighborhood.

He had to convince three town meetings in two towns to let him tie the development into a Mashpee town water main passing by the subdivision.

He had to convince voters to spend $250,000 in community preservation money on the private development.

He had to make sure endangered box turtles weren't living in the wooded area.

And he had to do all of this in an economy in which new construction has nearly screeched to a halt.

"Perseverance," said O'Haire at the site yesterday where four out of the five affordable homes are in various stages of construction.

That sums up Sea Shell Village, a neighborhood more than three years in the making with five one- and two-bedroom saltbox and Cape-style homes that will be sold for $129,000 and $139,000 apiece through a lottery. The other five market-priced homes will start at $279,000 and will be built in the second phase of this project, said O'Haire, who has teamed up with his partner Douglas Lebel of Heritage Custom Building on the project.

"It was an arduous process for him," said Assistant Town Manager Doug Lapp, who walked O'Haire through the tangle of bureaucratic red tape. "It took a lot of time and effort and perseverance to accomplish."

For example, O'Haire filled out the required forms so the homes would be counted as part of the town's affordable-housing stock only to find there were new state forms, Lapp said.

"A lot of people would have just walked away, but he believed in what he was doing and wanted to see it through," he said.

Sea Shell Village is unique for a couple of reasons — it has one-bedroom options geared toward single buyers or couples with no children and two-bedroom homes for a couple with one child.

"I was trying to identify housing that 18-to-35-year-olds might be interested in buying," O'Haire said, noting that the Cape is losing large chunks of that population.

"He's answering a demand that we all see on the Cape now," said Nancy Davison, vice president of operations for Housing Assistance Corp., which will run the upcoming lottery. "The family size is getting smaller."

The homes are also being built with green technology. Each of the affordable houses has solar panels strategically positioned with a southern exposure that will maximize their potential electric output, O'Haire said. The solar company involved estimates the units will generate 3,566 kilowatt hours per year, saving the homeowner $780 on an electric bill based on today's 21 cent per kilowatt hour price.

"What I'm trying to accomplish is not to just build an affordable home, but one that is affordable to live in," O'Haire said.

Along with the solar panels, the homes feature cellulose insulation beyond what's required by code, Energy Star appliances, fuel-efficient furnaces and low-flow toilets and showers — all in the hope of getting the project LEED certified, O'Haire said. The certification is awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit with the mission of encouraging sustainable and environmental design.

Davison expects there to be stiff competition for the homes. The last lottery done by Housing Assistance for a Cotuit project attracted three potential buyers for every one home, she said.

"There is an upswing. A year and a half ago, we had a difficult time finding buyers for all units," Davison said.

Despite the obstacles, O'Haire is glad he stuck with the project. "This shows you can include some good features in affordable housing and make it work," he said.

Housing Lottery

Housing Assistance Corp. will hold an information session on applying for an affordable housing lottery at 6 p.m. May 27, at Forestdale Elementary School. Sea Shell Village is selling a one-bedroom home for $129,000 and four two-bedroom homes for $139,000.

Where to get applications: At the May 27 information session, at Housing Assistance Corp. in Hyannis or at the Sandwich library

When to apply: Applications are due by July 12.

Eligibility is based on the following incomes:

  • 1 person - $43,450
  • 2-person family - $49,700
  • 3-person family - $55,900
  • 4-person family - $62,100

Source: Housing Assistance Corp.

For more information about

Sea Shell Village, go online to:

www.seashellvillage.net