WATERVILLE — The new Waterville Community Land Trust has an option to buy its first property and is kicking off a fundraising campaign to buy and renovate the house and sell it to a low- to moderate-income family.

The home at 182 Water St. in the city’s South End overlooks and abuts the Kennebec River and has a large garage and sheds.

“We are thrilled,” said Nancy Williams, who helped found the land trust and is a member of its board of directors. “We really can’t wait to put the picket fence up and hand the key over to a family. This is a very nice neighborhood.”

Williams, former executive director of the multimillion-dollar Lake George Land Conservancy in New York, and City Planner Ann Beverage started working two years ago to develop the community land trust with the idea that it would provide affordable homes to families, increase home ownership, improve and help stabilize neighborhoods and help protect the historic nature of neighborhoods.

The nonprofit land trust last year received tax-exempt status, allowing it to receive tax-exempt donations of homes, land, money and other gifts. The Internal Revenue Service notified the trust that, as a public charity, it is exempt from federal income tax, which means donors get a tax deduction for gifts to the trust.

The land trust plans to buy or acquire houses and land, renovate the houses and sell them at affordable prices. Homeowners may sell the homes later if they wish, but the trust will retain the ownership of the underlying land and a substantial share of any profit on the sale of the home.

The trust decided to focus first on the historic South End, which once was a hub of activity and home to many Franco-Americans who moved to the city from Canada to work in the mills. Revitalization efforts there by the South End Neighborhood Association have been ongoing. The trust then would spread to other parts of the city.

Ashley Pullen, chairman of the trust’s board, spoke to the City Council on Tuesday, saying the trust has until May 1 to raise the $60,000 to buy the Water Street house. The trust then plans to renovate it for about $90,000, which also would be raised.

“We’re under contract. We’re very excited about this first project,” Pullen said.

The trust hopes to apply for a Community Development Block Grant to help with the project. Pullen explained that such grants must be distributed to municipalities, and she was seeking support from the city to do that. The first step, she said, is to submit a letter of intent to the state.

“We would love very much the opportunity to be able to apply for these funds,” she said.

City officials not only were receptive to the idea; they welcomed the opportunity to help.

“If you write the letter, I will sign it,” City Manager Michael Roy said.

Councilor Karen Rancourt-Thomas, D-Ward 7, who represents the South End, said the land trust will draw families to the area.

“They’ve worked hard on this, and the South End is a great place to start,” she said.

Councilor Dana Bushee, D-Ward 6, who represents part of the South End, said city residents made the land trust happen and predicted it ultimately will revitalize properties and attract families.

“If there’s any time there’s a perfect opportunity for Waterville, it’s now, so thank you,” Bushee said. “For the South End, it’s huge.”

Pullen noted that both the homeowner and the land trust will pay taxes on properties, so no money will be taken from the tax base.

In addition to buying and renovating houses, the trust plans to work to protect historic and natural resources, reduce crime, promote meaningful employment and develop other associated community assets, according to Pullen. She said local contractors will be hired to do renovation work and building materials will be purchased locally.

The trust also hopes eventually to develop open public space and create opportunities for growth, such as providing space for startup businesses.

The house at 182 Water St. is on the southern end of the street near Grove Street.

On Wednesday afternoon, Williams, Beverage, Pullen and trust board member Scott McAdoo met at the house, which is bluish-gray and in a sunny spot set back from the road.

Williams said it was built about 1895 and is owned by Daniel Michaud, who lives near Boston and gave the land trust an option to buy the house, which sits on about one-third of an acre. Michaud’s family owned the house for many years, Williams said.

“The house will have three to four bedrooms, and we are proposing to add a bathroom upstairs. There’s a bath downstairs. It has a really nice big kitchen, eating area and living room. It’s really a very spacious house — plenty of closet and storage space. The thing I’d like to point out about this area is that there are a lot of amenities here — water access, a boat ramp, softball field, parks. This area has so much to offer, particularly for young families and older people who might want a smaller place to live. It’s within walking distance of downtown.”

Williams said that in addition to fundraising, the trust will seek funding from private foundations and individuals to buy and renovate the house. Once it is purchased, the trust will seek potential buyers who qualify for a mortgage.

Those wanting more information or to donate may contact the trust at 692-0891, email watervilleclt@gmail.com or visit the trust’s website.

Besides Williams, Beverage, Pullen and McAdoo, board members are Peter Bolduc, Daniel Eccher, Chris Moodi, Robert Nardi and Fred Stubbert.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

acalder@centralmaine.com

Twitter: @AmyCalder17