LEWISTON – The saws have stopped and the paint is dry. After more than a year of construction, life at River Valley Village is returning to normal. State and local officials gathered with the Caleb Foundation, the developer of the project, on Oct. 4 to cut the ribbon and celebrate the renovation of 296 affordable housing apartments.

The apartment complex, formerly known as Tall Pines, sits on the bank of the Androscoggin River. The Caleb Foundation invested $8 million installing new windows, roofs, siding, kitchens and floor coverings. The complex has mostly two- and three-bedroom apartments, including seven fully equipped handicapped accessible two-bedroom apartments.

Parking lots were repaved, and a playground, basketball court and community garden were built. A new community center was constructed that houses offices, meeting rooms, a computer learning center and kitchen facilities. These integral components of the community will be the focal points for self-enhancement programs and meeting areas for residents.

The Caleb Foundation and the Maine State Housing Authority have worked for four years to bring the project to completion. The Caleb Foundation is a nonprofit housing organization that has been specializing in affordable real estate development and management since 1992.

Warren Sawyer, president and CEO, said, “It is hard to remember a development challenge that required the commitment of as many people and agencies as converting a truly run-down Tall Pines into the River Valley Village.”

In September the Caleb Foundation received an award from Gov. John Baldacci for making an “outstanding contribution to affordable housing.” Caleb was singled out for the award because it has a management system that goes beyond bricks and mortar. Caleb creates a community relationship for residents in its properties.

Mike Finnegan, authority director, noted the award and spoke of his organization’s long relationship and trust in the Caleb Foundation.

River Valley Village, “with nearly 300 units of housing, all of it affordable for working families, is the largest single development we have ever financed. All of the families who live in this rehabilitated property have better housing now, and the development will benefit the entire city of Lewiston.” River Valley Village is also the largest community in the Caleb Foundation’s portfolio of real estate holdings.

Service coordination is being provided by the Caleb Group, and affiliate of the foundation. A full-time service coordinator has joined the staff to assist residents by linking them with necessary community services and coordinating activities, such as vocational training, computer training and adult education as well as after-school and summer activities for youth.

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