181 Washington Street

181 Washington St., Somerville, Mass., groundbreaking for 35 units of affordable housing by Somerville Community CorporationThe property at 181 Washington Street, the former location of the Somerville Boys and Girls Club, is currently well on its way for a late 2016 completion. The Somerville Planning Board approved in March 2014 the Somerville Community Corporation-revised proposal for redevelopment of the property into a mixed-use development with ground-floor commercial, and 35 rental units of workforce and affordable housing. The development plans conform to zoning including use, density and parking. 

Initially, the site housed a vacant three-story circa 1950s elementary school, with a circa 1970s rehab. An architect and contractor performed an analysis of the existing building to determine if it should be reused. Because of the poor configuration of the building, part of it could not easily be rehabbed into apartments, namely the gymnasium, and its poor access to the rear parking area.

In early 2013, we partnered with developers at Cathartes Private Investments who proposed redeveloping the adjacent Cota Funeral Home site. Through this unique public/private partnership, we are creating a mixed-income, mixed-use site, with community amenities such as public greenspace and ground floor retail.

The four-story Union Square complex will offer 35 units of affordable housing for families earning at or below 60% of the area median income, or $59,100 for a family of four. Eight of the apartments at 181 Washington Street are being set aside for families earning at or below 30% of area median income. Three will be for families with physical disabilities or impairments. And two are being made available to currently  homeless families. All of the units will be constructed to meet LEED for Homes Mid-rise Certification (Platinum Level) and ENERGY STAR Multi-Family High Rise Certification. 

Full lease up of the apartments is expected by the end of 2016. Seventy percent of the units have a set-aside preference for households either living or working in Somerville. 

Greater than Its Parts

While the Cathartes project for the Cota Funeral Home redevelopment is separately funded and approved, our innovative private/nonprofit partnership promises a seamless design and scale between the two properties and an opportunity for Somerville residents of all incomes to take part in this community. By working together, and with the neighborhood, we have a unique opportunity to achieve much more than what a single developer could do, resulting in a vibrant location that reflects the values of the community and a place that is truly everyone’s Somerville.

Our vision for this project has been driven by many months of SCC-hosted public meetings and design workshops and rooted in community values. We expect that this project will:

  • Meet Somerville’s consumer demand for housing near transit that provides easy access to the Boston metro area and Union Square’s commercial district.
  • Add value and reinforce Union Square’s existing diversity and character by combining market-rate and below market-rate housing on a single site to serve Somerville’s diverse household incomes.
  • Create a beautiful and welcoming gateway to Union Square from the east.
  • Combine the strengths of highly-qualified for-profit and nonprofit developers in an innovative partnership that no one developer could match on their own.
  • Improve the Union Square neighborhood overall by adding an attractive, vital new development to the Washington Street corridor.

We look forward to continuing to work with the community to shape our plans every step of the way, and to support a thriving Somerville that is for everyone.

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