A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on January 5, 2017, for the Union Square Apartments at 181 Washington Street, Somerville, where construction was recently completed on 35 new affordable, energy efficient units.Somerville Community Corporation CEO Daniel LeBlanc and SCC’s real estate team were joined by Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone; Susan Terrey, the Commonwealth’s assistant undersecretary of the Department of Housing and Community Development; local elected officials; the development team and project lenders; and Union Square residents for the ceremony.
The 181 Washington Street development is just a few blocks from the anticipated new Green Line stops at Washington Street and Union Square. All 35 residential units were leased and occupied in time for families to move in before the 2016 holiday season. Also part of the project: 2,400 sq. ft. of ground floor commercial space.
The property was originally the Pope Elementary School and then became the Boys and Girls Club in 1980. SCC purchased the property in 2012 after the Boys and Girls Club had closed its Somerville center and began marketing the property in 2010. The Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC) provided an acquisition and predevelopment loan to SCC to purchase the property and develop plans for redeveloping it into affordable housing.
While there has always been general support for SCC’s proposed redevelopment of the property for affordable housing, SCC’s original plans for a five story, 40 unit project were ultimately scaled down to four stories and 35 units and a lesser amount of commercial space.
“SCC acquired this property to develop precisely because we and our fellow affordable housing advocates believe that it is critical to the fabric of Somerville that we have affordable housing options close to the coming Green Line transit,” stated SCC CEO Daniel LeBlanc. “And as anyone involved in development in a dense urban community knows, a project like this takes place in a living, breathing neighborhood and requires the support and cooperation of neighbors. Many worked with us, raising issues and concerns, to help develop a building that we can all be proud of.”
Added Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone, “What a transformation of this block. Our collective goal with SCC, with communities is to build healthy, happy, vibrant, robust neighborhoods that everyone wants to part of.
“We are faced with an incredible challenge and crisis in this region, which needs 435,000 new housing units by 2040. In that process, we don’t want to lose our identity, our creativity, our originality, our soul, our values.
We want this to be an inclusive community. And this project is an important part of that.”
“SCC acquired this property to develop precisely because we and our fellow affordable housing advocates believe that it is critical to the fabric of Somerville that we have affordable housing options close to the coming Green Line transit.”
SCC CEO Daniel LeBlanc
A Leader in Affordability and Energy-Efficiency
There was significant demand for the affordable units. SCC received 3,400 applications for the 35 affordable apartments. The property provides nine one-bedroom, 22 two-bedroom, and four three-bedroom apartments – all for families earning at or below 60% of the area median income, which for a family of four is $58,860. Eight of the apartments are set aside for families earning at or below 30% of area median income, three of which are for families with physical disabilities or impairments, and two are for homeless families.
New Ecology, Inc. assisted in designing the building to meet LEED for Homes Mid-rise Certification (Platinum Level) and ENERGY STAR Multi-Family High Rise Certification. The project architect is Dimella Shaffer. Dellbrook/JKS Construction provided construction management for the project.
Sources of funding include federal and state Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity allocated by the Commonwealth’s Department of Housing and Community Development and purchased by First Sterling; State Affordable Housing Trust Funds through MassHousing; Housing Stabilization Funds through Department of Housing and Community Development; Federal HOME and Somerville Affordable Housing Trust funds through the City of Somerville; HUD McKinney funds; Community-Based Housing funds administered by CEDAC; project-based Section 8 subsidies administered by Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership; construction funds from Eastern Bank. The permanent lender for the project is the Massachusetts Housing Partnership.