Groundbreaking for a $1 million affordable-housing project that will include six cottages in old town Bluffton will be the first week of August, town officials said Thursday.
The town has completed several contracts that will get the project started, including one to have the homes built and one that will allow a consulting firm to create a program to select the first six families to live in the homes.
The project, in the works more than a year, is funded mostly by grants from the federal government and the Lowcountry Council of Governments. However, the town expects about $200,000 from the sale of the homes to keep it out of the red.
Beaufort Construction has been awarded a contract for about $529,000 to build, ship and assemble the modular homes on the corner of Wharf and Robertson streets, according to engineering director Bob Fletcher.
Civitas LLC has a contract for $25,500 to create a homebuyer program that will verify income, counsel applicants and conduct background checks necessary to comply with grant terms of the U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development.
To qualify to purchase the homes, families must make no more than 80 percent of the county's median income, which ranges from $30,750 to $49,200, depending on family size.
Town officials will hold a ceremony on the site shortly before the land is cleared and graded, according to assistant town manager for growth management Marc Orlando.
"Once we hit start, it will take about 15 days to make one home on the assembly line," Orlando told committee members.
Orlando said staff has selected the features of the homes to match old town design standards, and has gotten help from local architects and interior designers so the cottages "will be as good as any home in old town."
The homes must be occupied by December 2013 to meet federal grant requirements, Orlando said.
Civitas likely will give the committee more information about the application process at its August meeting, Orlando said.
Town staff also is trying to get local companies to donate labor and materials for landscaping, including vegetable gardens and rain barrels, Orlando said.
Follow staff writer Allison Stice at twitter.com/BlufftonBlogIP.