CONWAY — The Mount Washington Valley Housing Coalition will be holding a listening session Thursday to help decide what to do with the Conway Community Building and surrounding land.
The listening session will be held at Conway Public Library at 7 p.m.
On Oct. 22, a team of experts will take the day to come up with what they think would be the best possible use of the property.
They will be working at Tech Village from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the design. The public may watch. The design will be presented to the public on Oct. 22 at 5 p.m. at the North Conway Community Center.
The volunteer team will work for a day and a half to examine the property to see if it has any potential for free-market (not subsidized) housing, either as rental units or for sale.
Design Team consists of: Michael Couture: Designer Architect North Conway; Josh McAllister: HEB Engineers, North Conway; Gordan Cormack: Cormack Construction, Madison, Claude Pigeon: retired builder/project manager, Berlin; Ed Harrigan: Northway Bank; Allen Gould: TD Bank; Greydon Turner: Pinkham Real Estate, North Conway; Theresa Bernhardt: Keller Williams Realty, North Conway and Mary Carey Seavey: Conway Selectman.
Voters at town meeting last year approved moving the Conway Parks and Recreation Department from the aging Center Conway building to unused space at Kennett Middle School. The rec department moved into Kennett Middle School in June.
The old community building at 1634 East Main St. lacked potable water and had heating, electrical and ventilation issues.
In addition to being used as a teen center and a rec center, it was also used as the town's polling place for years.
Under current zoning, it would be possible to build 34 housing units on the approximately 4 acres.
But Laracy said the charrette team would determine what is physically possible for the site without regard for local zoning.
WMWV Drive Time host Tony Zore interviewed Earl Sires IIII (not to be confused with his father, the former Conway Town Manager) and Greydon Turner of the coalition and they discussed the charrette. The interview was posted to WMWV.com on Oct. 11.
"Our goal with this project is basically to come up with a design that illustrates what would be possible if we made some changes to the current zoning ordinance," said Sires. "For the last 10 months we have been working as a coalition on some changes to zoning ordinance that we would think it would make it more appealing and possible for developers to build affordable housing in the area."
Turner said that the issue of affordable housing is "coming to ahead" and he is pleased that the town has asked the coalition to find a better purpose for the land. He called the charrette a "hopeful event."
Sires said everyone young and old needs housing.
Turner said employers feel like there aren't enough workers because there aren't enough places for employees to live comfortably.
The new ordinance would allow developers to build on smaller lots in exchange for dedicating some units to affordable housing. Lot sizes would start with at least a quarter-acre for the first housing unit and 5,000 square feet for additional units on the same lot — half the current regulation sizes, as long as developers set aside up to 25 percent of those units (either houses or apartments) for people with a household income of under $55,000 for buyers or $41,000 for renters.
The ordinance is expected to be presented to Conway voters in April.