Several residents who live near a proposed 66-unit affordable housing development on Cottage Street are concerned the project will be too big for the neighborhood.
The Neighborhood Developers (TND) were before the Zoning Board of Appeals Tuesday night seeking special permits and variances for the project. A similar sized project by another developer was approved by the city several years ago.
TND purchased the property about a year ago, and its latest version of the project creates more open space on the site by moving all 72 parking spaces to an underground garage. The project still needs to go before the Planning Board on August 22 for a recommendation before coming back to the ZBA in September for potential final approvals.
“Our goal is to create affordable homes for families, especially along the Silver Line corridor where we can provide access to transportation,” said Steve Laferriere, TND’s director of real estate development. “Organizationally, we really want to build a sustainable and energy efficient building. We’re designing it to passive house standards, it will be our third passive housing project in Chelsea with 1005 Broadway and 25 6th Street.”
The project will be geared toward families with 66 apartments for rent, all at affordable rates, with 12 one-bedroom units, 43 two-bedrooms, and 11 three-bedrooms, Laferriere said. The underground parking garage would have 72 spaces for cars and 70 for bicycles. A variance is needed for the parking because 105 spots for vehicles are required under the city’s zoning ordinances.
TND is looking to get construction underway next fall with the building being ready for occupancy by early 2025.
City planning director John DePriest said he would like to see a clearer rendering of the access to Bellingham Street.
“It’s very important to the city that we activate that Bellingham Street frontage,” he said.
City Manager Thomas Ambrosino said the city administration is fully supportive of the project.
“It meets our affordable housing goals and it is a vast improvement over the project that was previously approved,” said Ambrosino.
But several residents said they still have some concerns about the project.
Cottage Street resident Minna Marino said she’s been against the large-scale development of the site since the original proposal four years ago. She said there will be no room for the additional traffic to get into Bellingham and Cottage streets.
“My opinion is it’s too small, this beautiful building and everything like that, there’s not enough room,” said Marino.
Ralph Iannuzzi, who owns a 16-unit apartment building on Willow Street, said he has been a landlord in Chelsea for 50 years and was also concerned about the size of the development and the amount of traffic it would bring to the area.
“I think the Planning Board should send it back, put a building of 30 units and 100 percent parking,” said Iannuzzi. “That would be something the city could be proud of.”