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Conference Center to be elderly apartments

Sister of St. Joseph of Springfield Denise Granger signs a document in the Boston HUD office, as Paul Ugolini of Western Builders (left) and Jeff Johnson of Travelers Surety (right) look on.Reminder Publications photo by G. Michael Dobbs
By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

HOLYOKE Ground will be broken Aug. 14 on a project that will convert the former Mont Marie Conference Center at 34 Lower Westfield Rd. into 49 low income apartments for the elderly.

Three years in the planning, Sisters of St. Joseph President Mary Quinn and Leadership Team member Denise Granger signed the final papers for the project in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) office in Boston on July 9.

And the rehabilitation of the conference center will be accompanied eventually with a second building providing more apartments for seniors.

Wendy Hammerle, the public relations director for the Sisters of Saint Joseph, explained to the Chicopee Herald the conference center was closed two years ago. With greater competition for conferences and events from other venues, the leadership of the order believed the building should have a new use.

Nearly three years ago the order received a $6.2 million capital advance from HUD. Since then the order has received the rest of the $8.9 million cost of the project from the Affordable Housing trust, the Housing Innovation and Housing Stabilization funds, City of Holyoke HOME funds, the Holyoke Gas and Electric Company, and the National Religious Retirement Office.

Studio One of Springfield has been named the architect and Western Builders, Inc. of Granby will be the general contractor.

Although the project is slated to be open until July 2008, Hammerle said there has already been interest shown by seniors in applying for an apartment. The apartments will be made available through an application process. Seniors must be at least 62 years of age and earn less than 50 percent of the area median income. For additional information, seniors should contact Jill Keough at 536-0853, ext. 280 for more information.

During the construction period the operations of the Mont Marie Health Care Center and the Child Care Center will not be affected.

"It is the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph to reach out in response to the needs of our neighbors," said Quinn. "In everything we do, we are concerned about the greater community. We look forward to sharing our home here at Mont Marie with our neighbors who are in need of affordable housing."