Algiers Family Housing—another success story for the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust (WWHT)—is a new construction project located in the Village of Algiers in Guilford, Vermont. It includes two buildings: a 15-unit building at 91 Guilford Center Road, and a duplex at 71 Guilford Center Road. With the addition of Algiers Family housing, the vision for the Village of Algiers is being realized. The Friend of Algiers, a group of local citizens seeking to steer the village toward a better future, set out over a decade ago to create a vibrant town center that includes a retail store (Guilford Country Store & Cafe), fire station, church, restaurant, service related businesses, and mixed income housing. Furthermore, Guilford suffers from a shortage of affordable housing, particularly in the village center. The addition of 17 total units adds viability and vitality to the town, and helps to revitalize the village center by redeveloping an abandoned warehouse parcel. The provision for attractive housing units at an affordable cost further enhances the town’s community and economic activity.
A primary goal of this project was to provide high quality outdoor spaces for the tenants, and an attractive streetscape for the village of Algiers. This was achieved by designing small but comfortable spaces that gave residents privacy, shade, and patios. The buildings and the site were designed to respect the small village feel and the properties’ relationship with its neighbors.
The project had to navigate a host of property constraints in order to be completed. The village did not have municipal water and the site did not have adequate space for a public well. To provide the project’s potable water and fire water needs the project collaborated with the Towns of Guilford and Brattleboro to extend a municipal water main to the village. Steep slopes and tight parcel required a creative grading concept and easement negotiations to gain access and maximize the density, while providing open space for the users.
The project also needed to address the hazardous waste contamination of the existing warehouse parcel brownfield, raising the environmental quality to federal standards, and taking advantage of an underused brownfield site to provide much needed affordable housing for the Town of Guilford. In order to maintain effective drainage, a creative layout of the drainage swales was designed around the building. Lastly, the project had to be handicap accessible. Much of the parking was placed under the structure, and buildings were brought close to the street. A series of subtle ramps had to be integrated into the design while still maintaining an attractive streetscape.