On the last day of the State Legislature’s Formal Session, the Legislation passed two home rule petitions that allow for the plans to redevelop the Clarendon: H4580 provides authorization for the Somerville Housing Authority to engage with a private development partner to redevelop the Clarendon property; and H4856 allows for a land swap between Somerville Housing Authority and the State Department of Conservation and Recreation that will allow for the replacement of the rotary at Powder House and Alewife with a fully signaled T-intersection.The lineup of speakers in favor of these Home Rule Petitions speaks volumes about Somerville’s will and solidarity to do right by the Clarendon Hill residents and their housing. Most eloquent of all were the Clarendon residents themselves, who passionately spoke to their hope for quality new housing to replace their current apartments that were built 70 years ago and have outlived their useful life. They were also joined by Representative Christine Barber and Senator Pat Jehlen, Mayor Curtatone, Ward 7 Alderman and BOA President Katjana Ballantyne and Ward 7 School Committee person Carrie Normand, SHA Executive Director Joe Macaluso and the Development Team, and a whole host of and supporters ranging from the Somerville School Department to local and state advocacy organizations to neighborhood residents.
While this I good and welcome news for the project, the home rule petitions contained language that requires that Prevailing Wage be used for construction on the entire project, including the private market rate portion of the development. As the development team of POAH, Redgate and SCC has consistently stated, this requirement creates a sizable gap in the project’s financial plan. Based on continued efforts to gain updated cost estimates with multiple contractors, we believe that gap to be $20 Million. While we are grateful for the opportunity to continue to work on behalf of the 216 families, we anticipate that securing additional scarce resources will be very difficult.
The entire Development Team met with State DHCD Undersecretary Janelle Chan and her staff on July 30th. Undersecretary Chan, appreciating the challenges posed by the new prevailing wage requirement and the resulting financial gap, has extended DHCD’s original July 31st deadline to September 30, giving us two months to reassemble a feasible financial plan the meets the requirements of the home rule petition.
We remain committed to exploring any and all paths to a financial plan to redevelop Clarendon in the way our Somerville community has imagined, with new high-quality public housing on a completely redesigned campus with market rate and middle income affordable housing neighbors, new streets and green spaces and a reintegration into Clarendon’s West Somerville neighborhood.