By Joe Siegel
Georgiaville Village Green, on Whipple Avenue, is Smithfield’s first low-income housing development.
Georgiaville is a historical village centered on the cotton mill built there in 1853 by Zachariah Allen. Now a condominium complex, the former mill is surrounded by a reservoir and the historic stone and wood houses built for the mill employees.
The first mill in Georgiaville, then known as Nightingale’s Village or Georgia Factory, was built in 1813 by the Georgia Cotton Manufacturing Co. The stone mill was built alongside the Woonasquatucket River.
“Mill workers were housed in two groups of stone houses built along Stillwater Road near the mill,” according to a report on Smithfield from the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission. “A short distance to the west, along Farnum Pike, another part of Georgiaville was developing. Here, a hotel and a row of houses lined the road.”
The entrance to the development is across the street from the former Georgiaville mill, now known as the Homestead Condominiums.
The complex is located on the site of the former Narragansett Gray Iron Foundry, a mill building that was demolished by the previous owner. Planning for the project began in 2014. Environmental remediation of the foundry site began in the fall of 2017 and construction started in the spring of 2018.
The 42 townhouse style units are available to rent. A one bedroom unit rents for $701 a month. A two-bedroom is $725, and a three-bedroom is $838. Anyone who is interested in renting a unit can pick up an application at the Smithfield Housing Authority’s office at 7 Church Street in Greenville, or by downloading one from their website – http://www.smithfieldhousingauthorityri.org. The lease is for a one-year period. Applicants have to meet income eligibility requirements. The housing will be available to individuals and families earning less than 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI), or $43,260 for a family of four. Five of the units will be reserved for individuals and families with disabilities earning less than 30% AMI, or $24,600 for a family of four.
“The Town of Smithfield has been a great supporter of this development and has worked closely with the development team,” said Clare Fortin, Executive Director of the Smithfield Housing Authority.
Fortin said the town and Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) both provided financial support through the Community Development Block Grant Program and Brownfield Remediation and Economic Development Fund Grant Program. The RIDEM funds were used to remediate the property. Financial support in the pre-development phase was also provided by Housing Ministries of New England and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation.
Coventry Housing Associates and Gemini Housing Corp. were the developers. Barbara Sokoloff Associates served as the development consultants, Robinson Design provided architectural services, and Stand Corporation is the General Contractor. The project was funded through RI Housing and Citizens Bank.
Fortin said 38 units are being rented with the remaining five being leased before the end of January. There is currently a waiting list for applications.
Construction is expected to be completed in the spring with the completion of a play area and solar panels. A ribbon cutting ceremony will also be held.
Georgiaville Village Green is the recipient of the Paul Davidoff Award for the 2019 RI American Planners Association award.