When neighbors rose up in arms against the former, 60-unit affordable housing apartment building on the old French Club site at Spencer Avenue, TND got the brunt of neighborhood frustration, and this week the organization said it has listened to those concerns and has a new plan.
After a productive meeting in October with neighbors, TND has unveiled a plan for 34 units of affordable housing with 34 parking spots in a four-story building and a return of the Spencer Avenue extension that was once taken by eminent domain for the larger project – which proposed 60 unit and around 52 parking spots.
“We have been listening very closely and have made significant changes to this proposal,” said Emily Loomis, director of real estate development at TND. “We reduced the size of the building to four stories, brought it down from 60 to 34 apartments, increased our off-street parking ratio to provide one space for each apartment, and will be keeping that section of Spencer Avenue open because we listened to our neighbors. Our conversations, phone calls, and meetings brought their ideas to the table and I am very happy with what we have designed. All along, we have been hearing a common concern across Chelsea about rents going up, and people getting pushed out. High-quality, affordable apartments directly address this concern.”
The proposal will have five one-bedroom units, 22 two-bedroom units and seven three-bedroom units. There will also be a public community room available and a common area.
A hearing at the Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) is scheduled now for Dec. 8, and the Planning Board will take it up on Dec. 15.
Councillor Matt Frank said he is taking a measured approach and hasn’t seen the full plans yet.
“The French Club proposal is one I’m still waiting on and don’t have a comment just yet,” he said. “They brought the numbers of units down to 34 apartments and gave the street back. Until everything is out for everyone to see, I can’t form a total opinion.”
All apartments in the proposal will be rented to households earning no more than 60 percent of the Area Median Income. For example, the maximum income for a family of four is currently about $59,000. By comparison, the average family income in the surrounding census tract is about $57,000, according to the American Community Survey. As housing costs continue to rise throughout Chelsea, this project will fill an immediate need for high-quality homes that will stay affordable over the long term, said Loomis.
The term of the affordable units is to be around 30 years, and locked into the percentages stated above.
TND affirmed that the project is important to keeping the City affordable for working families.
Loomis said this project would have an average rent of around $1,300, including heat and hot water. By comparison, she said, 550 market-rate units h
ave been built in the neighborhood during the past several years with the monthly rent for a two-bedroom unit going at around $2,000, without utilities.
“In order to spend 30 percent of income on housing costs, a family would need to earn at least $76,000 to afford this rent – a much higher income level than many hard working families in Chelsea earn,” read a statement from TND.
TND also indicated that they’ve reached out to neighbors on their list and who came to the October meeting in an e-mail this week that details the above plans for the Club.