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HAP rebuilds neighborhood

Potential homeowner Brunilda Cordero was one of the many hopeful buyers who came to look at the new homes built by HAP, Inc. on Chester Street in Springfield. Photo courtesy of HAP
By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD The completion of a new home on Chester Street by HAP, Inc. is the first of a series of eight homes for first-time low-income residents and a possible turn-around for the Maple High Six Corners neighborhood.

The eight new homes, though are just the first phase of additional housing construction to help boost the owner-occupancy rate in the inner city neighborhood.

HAP, Inc. President Peter Gagliardi explained at the home's opening on July 18 that only 18 percent of the homes in the neighborhood are owner-occupied. HAP, Inc. had two homes finished of its initial eight one at 18 Chester St. and another at 52 Chester St.

The other homes are at 68 Chester St., 443 Central St., 457 Central St., 445 Hancock St., 26 Clifton Ave., and 145 Florence St.

Two houses one currently under construction on Chester Street will complement those homes.

Gagliardi said HAP, Inc. has been named the developer of the former Spruce Manor Nursing Home at the corner of Spruce and Central Streets. He said his agency is currently applying for funding and, if successful, he expects to demolish the building in the fall.

In its place would be seven housing units and space for a community garden.

Although HAP, Inc. didn't have either of its Chester Street homes on display sold at this point, there were a number of potential homeowners who attended the ribbon-cutting event. Gagliardi said his agency's success in finding buyers for homes it has built in the adjacent neighborhood of Old Hill has been encouraging.

Mayor Charles Ryan said that HAP's partnership with the city has been powerful and important. He also lauded the Maple High Six Corners Neighborhood Council for continuing to work on behalf of the neighborhood despite a "long, long history of discouragement."

Ryan said the city would continue in its program to acquire derelict buildings and vacant lots in order to work with agencies such as HAP in re-developing the city's housing base.

The HAP houses have three different layouts. Gagliardi said one of them is designed specifically for occupants with physical disabilities and has wider doors and a bedroom on the first floor. All the homes have three bedrooms and 1 1/2 baths. They include Energy Star efficient appliances and a modern gas hearting system. They all have a full basement.

The prices start at $110,000 and are available to first time homebuyers who meet income guidelines. For additional sales information, contact Debi McPartlan at HAP.

Alicia Zoeller, the president of the Maple High Six Corners neighborhood Council, noted the diversity of the neighborhood and the on-going improvements to its gateways.

"This is a fabulous neighborhood," she said.