Habitat for Humanity of Taos has broken ground on a new home of its own.
The nonprofit housing organization is constructing a 2,000-square-foot office at the corner of Salazar Road and La Posta. The second phase of the project will include the construction of a 6,000-square-foot facility for ReStore, a secondhand shop operated by the group currently located in Arroyo Hondo.
The first phase of the project is 80-85 percent funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Part of the grant will also be used to hire a full-time volunteer coordinator and purchase a used truck, according to Executive Director Cynthia Arvidson.
The new office space will be a big but welcome change for the group, Arvidson told The Taos News. The organization’s eight staff members currently work in a rented 900-square-foot space on Alexander Road, which Arvidson said the organization has outgrown.
“It will be much nicer and it will be paid for,” she added, noting the group would be able to redirect funding typically allocated to rent towards other expenses when it moves into its own space at the end of the year.
Completion of the administrative offices and construction of a new spot for ReStore would require additional funding, Arvidson said. The offices are projected to cost $154,000, according to the group, which is awaiting an estimate on the second phase which is not expected to be completed until 2015.
The grant funding the project was initially awarded to Habitat for Humanity of Taos and the now-defunct Taos Housing Corp. in 2009. With the federal money, Habitat for Humanity of Taos purchased the acre on Salazar Road where the group’s new headquarters is now being constructed. Taos Housing Corp. intended to use part of the grant to subsidize building 17 new homes at Chamisa Verde. As those plans fell through and Taos Housing Corp. folded, however, Arvidson said the remaining funds reverted to Habitat.
“We wanted to use [the HUD funds] to do housing but the grant expired in April,” Arvidson said, adding that officials at the federal agency were eager to see a project get under way.
Approval for the plans were fast-tracked, Arvidson said, to secure funding before the grant expired.
The project was designed by intern architect Mark Goldman who included energy-efficient technologies such as structural insulated panels in the plans. Habitat for Humanity will work largely with local contractors and suppliers to build the new facilities, Arvidson said.
A dedication ceremony and celebration of the group’s 20th birthday will be held at the site, 504 Salazar Road, at 10 a.m. on June 12.