A 62-unit affordable housing development at the corner of Broadway and Fourth Street that has been in the works for over five years was approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals last week.
The project proposed by Arx Urban calls for the renovation of the existing Broadway building, and the demolition of the adjacent commercial garage to make way for a new building.
The 19 units in the existing Broadway building will be renovated, and the six commercial tenants already on the ground floor of the building will remain. The new building at the site of the current parking garage will be six stories tall and connected by corridors to the existing building.
Altogether, 57 of the 62 studio through three-bedroom units will be affordable, according to Benjamin Moll, one of the principles of Arx Urban.
“When we acquired the building six years ago, the intent was always to try to find a higher and better use for the parking garage, which takes up such a large part of this downtown block,” said Moll.
One of the key goals of the project, Moll said, is to keep the existing commercial tenants at 361 Broadway.
“One of the important parts of our development program is that we anticipate keeping all the retail tenants in place with below-market rents,” Moll said.
Moll said the project will also bring streetscape improvements and make the area more pedestrian friendly.
The building at 361 Broadway dates back to 1916, and has been a target for developers since at least the 1980s.
Moll said the Arx Urban proposal is modest compared to some of the proposals that have been considered for the parcel.
There are 25 parking spaces proposed for the development, and an additional 43 spaces for bicycles. Moll said his company’s projects typically are transportation-oriented and only about 25 percent of the units need to rent a parking space.
Because the number of parking spaces is below what is required in the city zoning ordinances, residents of the development will not be eligible for Chelsea street parking permits.
City Manager Thomas Ambrosino spoke in favor of the project at last week’s ZBA meeting.
“This is exactly the kind of project that my administration has been advocating for in the downtown corridor,” said Ambrosino. “We firmly believe that creating density, housing density, above first-floor commercial space is the way in which we can revitalize the downtown corridor and allow it to fully recover from the pandemic. We have been encouraging owners throughout the corridor to pursue exactly these kinds of plans
“The city is going to be pursuing exactly this kind of plan when we come before (the ZBA) with our revised proposal for the Salvation Army site.”