BERLIN – Local leaders celebrated the start of a first-of-its-kind project for the Eastern Shore as work at Cannery Village got underway last week.
Town leaders, officials from Osprey Property Company and representatives from Habitat for Humanity attended a groundbreaking ceremony for Cannery Village, the rent-to-own community to be built on Flower Street on May 28.
“This rent-to-buy concept has worked successfully on the western side of the bay,” Berlin Mayor Gee Williams said. “Berlin is the first community on the Eastern Shore to offer it. We’re extremely excited.”
Williams said the idea of a Cannery Village affordable housing project was first put forth by local businessman Frank Gunion 10 years ago. The concept changed through the years but will now come to fruition as a rent-to-own community to be developed by Osprey Property Company.
“It’s been well worth the wait,” Williams said.
The development will consist of 44 homes on 11 acres off Flower Street, according to Andrew Hanson, vice president of Osprey Property Company. Homes will range in size from 890 square feet to 1,547 square feet and will include either four or two bedrooms.
Hanson said tenants would be invited to rent the homes, which will cost anywhere between $400 and $900 a month, and after 15 years will have the opportunity to buy them. The idea is to keep the mortgage payment at the same level as their previous rent payments, Hanson said.
“We have already had so much interest,” Hanson said. “We’ll be able to serve a whole gamut of different folks.”
Senator Jim Mathias praised the cooperation between all of the parties involved that had made the project possible.
“This is what happens when you work together,” he said. “I look around and I see the smiles. This is what it’s all about. You’re not only the coolest small town in America, you’re the town that’s making it happen.”
Along with the Town of Berlin, Cannery Village developers have also partnered with Habitat for Humanity to bring the project to life. Along with the 44 homes the company is building, they’re constructing a community center that will eventually be turned over to Habitat for Humanity. There, the organization will host volunteer training sessions and offer home ownership advice to people interested.
Andrea Bowland, the organization’s executive director, says that though Habitat for Humanity isn’t normally involved with rental properties, an exception was made this time. She said the project served the same population her organization did—those making less than 60 percent of the area’s median income—and would provide an option for those who weren’t yet ready to buy a home.
“This is a transition to home ownership,” she said.
According to Hanson the project, which will all be built at once, should be done near the end of 2015. For more information call 443-716-2576.