Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The 10%

The Amherst Housing & Sheltering Committee heard an ominous anecdote this morning from one of their own members, Andrea Battle, who resides at Rolling Green at Amherst apartments:  The most recent lease she signed was for only seven months instead of the usual twelve, and ends this August rather than January.

Housing & Sheltering Committee from right:  Andrea Battle, Nancy Gregg, Aaron Blodgett, Greg Stutsman

A September start for leasing is more reminiscent of an apartment complex geared towards students, or what neighbors refer to as  THEM.

In addition, August just happens to coincide with a time frame where Rolling Green owners, a huge Chicago based real estate investment firm, finish paying off a 15 year low-interest state loan,  and can then bring all 204 units up to market rate.

Thus taking them out of affordable housing stock, which instantly drops Amherst to only 8.5% affordable, well below the 10% threshold.

Our little college town is then at the mercy of BIG time developers doing pretty much whatever they want as long as 25% of the units are set aside as affordable.  It's called CH40B and it's use is about as welcome as giant mutant carnivorous ants.

The town has been aware of this August, 2013 deadline for at least five years with little progress towards an equitable solution since then.  And time is running out.

Former Select Board Chair Gerry Weiss appears before Amherst Select Board during unscripted 6:30 PM Public Question period last week to air concerns about Rolling Green going off line


Anonymous said...

or the town can change the zoning underlying the properties, no?

Larry Kelley said...


Anonymous said...

Hmm, and they would build this megacomplex where? Don't they need land? Not a lot of it available.

Walter Graff said...

No, unfortunately it becomes a fee-for-all for developers who are under the umbrella. Once they can, they can build what they want, how they like and are not subject to the rules anymore. As long as they keep a certain percentage for affordable housing they can make as many units at high rental rates as they like.

Anonymous said...

Cinda will unpreserve some of her land with a wave of her magic wand.

Anonymous said...

So developers can build apt complexes anywhere in town so long as there are affordable units? Really?

Dr. Ed said...

Chapter 43B was written to deal with communities such as Amherst where snob zoning kept housing for poor people (or students) both substandard and scarce. I think it would be great for an intrepid developer (or several) to some in and do a lot of small high-density developments.

Maybe even Equity, which owns Rolling Green -- replace the burnt block of buildings with a 3-story building holding 20 units.

There are some very moldy and quite decrepit houses bot in Orchard Valley and those two streets near the power lines -- tear down a couple adjacent ones and put in a 10 unit complex.

A lot of the existing complexes could be expanded -- New Hollister has a lot of land out beyond it, places like Southpoint & Colonial Village have older buildings that could be torn down and replaced with buildings holding twice or thrice the number of apartments.

I think it would be really good to see a lot of new apartments in town.

Walter Graff said...

Basically it says a developer can build more than town bylaws allow, meaning more new units per acre as long as it sets a percentage of the property for lower income residents. That includes building developments in areas zoned only for single family, and even in areas not zoned for residential development. Mass is not alone. Most states offer the same type of law under different names.

Anonymous said...

telling owners of apt building what they can charge is not only anti American but will have so many un-intended consequences that will hurt renters more than anyone else. Pushing the non market rate will only make for less housing to be built but also mean less upkeep and repairs to existing properties. When it comes to owning and renting property is it simple dollars and cents. If you cant pay the costs to own properties because someone believes its too much, guess what, less and less places to live and the ones that are available will be less and less attractive to renters. Having students in your property means the need for higher costs every year once they move out and with the movement to blaming owners for what their tenants do while they live there means its less desirable for anyone to invest their money into a losing proposition

Speaking as the community, again said...

OOOOOOOOO kayyyy Gerry, ooooo kayyy...

Don't you have a game of ping pong to get back to?

(yeah heard you were a pretty lousy player)