Broadway Affordable Housing Project Back Before ZBA

A revised affordable housing development at the corner of Broadway and Clinton Street is back before City boards, and now it features fewer units with all at affordable rates.

Late last year, the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) narrowly denied the 42 unit affordable- and market-rate residential development at 1001 Broadway (Midas site) in a vote that was based on creating more homeownership opportunities in the City. The project included nine units of market-rate housing and enhanced access to the Mill Creek waterfront.

The Suffolk County Land Court remanded the controversial Zoning Board affordable housing denial on Broadway back to the ZBA with a revised plan.

Monday night, the revised version of the development, a partnership between the Traggorth Companies and The Neighborhood Developers (TND), was back before the ZBA. The revised plan is an attempt to address the concerns of the board and neighbors, according to Dave Traggorth of the Traggorth Companies.

“Our goals have not changed,” said Traggorth. “It is to create affordable homes for Chelsea residents and to provide public access to Mill Creek.”

The major revisions to the proposed $15 million project include cutting the total number of units from 42 to 38, making all the units affordable, and eliminating the fifth story of the building that had been proposed for the Broadway side of the development.

The commercial space on the first floor in the initial proposal has also been eliminated.

“We have reviewed the plans based on the ZBA recommendations, and the commercial space will now be a community room,” Traggorth said.

The project needs special permits due to a slightly larger than allowed lot coverage, and for not meeting City parking requirements. The Broadway housing will have 42 parking spots, where 52 are required by the city.

Thirty one of those parking spaces will be available for the public to access Mill Creek from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. In addition, Traggorth said the developers will give the city $15,000 for intersection improvements in the area.

With the decrease in units and the elimination of the commercial space, TND Project Manager Steve Laferriere said there will be less of an impact on parking in traffic in the area than the initial proposal.

District 3 City Councillor Joe Perlatonda, who represents the area where the affordable housing will be built, said he is still opposed to the project, citing a burst of recent development in the city that will increase parking and traffic.

Perlatonda said the parking and traffic issues around Broadway and Clinton Street are already a nightmare for neighbors, and that the Traggorth/TND project will only make it worse. He said the City should take a look at other uses for the property, such as a new public library on Mill Creek.

But the majority of people who spoke during the public hearing said they supported the creation of sorely needed new affordable units in Chelsea, and praised the efforts TND has already made to create safe and modern affordable units in the city. A recent affordable housing lottery in the city saw more than 3,000 applicants for 34 units, with more than 1,200 of those applications coming from Chelsea residents.

“There is a clear need for affordable housing as rents continue to go up in the Chelsea area,” said resident Sandy Maynard.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he continues to support the TND/Traggorth partnership.

“The number one complaint I receive as City Manager from residents is the lack of affordable housing,” said Ambrosino.

Ambrosino said he understands the concerns about traffic and parking, but said the impacts of any project has to be weighed against the benefits, and that the benefits of affordable housing at Broadway and Clinton tip the scales in favor of the project.

While state law prohibits the developers from offering the affordable units to Chelsea residents only, the developers said they would work to make sure the maximum units allowable are for Chelsea residents. The Planning Board will take up the project at its March 26 meeting, and then it will come back to the ZBA at its April 9 meeting for a possible vote, according to ZBA Chair Janice Tatarka.

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