Amherst Office Park, South Amherst
The number one problem in Amherst today, the housing crunch, will get some small measure of relief as the Amherst Planning Board finally approved the Special Permits required for the addition of a new building to the Amherst Office Complex, a mixed use development located in the village center of South Amherst nestled between the Hickory Ridge Golf Course and West Street (Rt 116).
New mixed use building
The new 30,000 square foot building will house offices on the ground floor and 17 apartments (19 bedrooms total) on the second and third floors. Originally the plan called for 12 apartments with 19 bedrooms total but was modified between hearings.
Planning Board member Connie Kruger lamented this modification as it does not address the needs of families who may wish to move to Amherst. But a recent study commissioned by the Amherst Housing and Sheltering Committee would seem to support the move:
While Amherst’s population grew by 13.8% from 1980 to 2010, the numbers of households increased more dramatically, by 21.7% to 9,259 total households. This is correlated to the increasing number of smaller, non-family households 3 , which increased from 3,482 in 1980 to 4,775 by 2010, now comprising the majority of all households in Amherst. This increase in smaller households is reflected in the decreasing average household size, from 2.61 persons in 1980 to 2.44 by 2010. The growing number of smaller, non-family households is also reflective of national trends driven by fewer numbers of children and “traditional” families, increases in “child-free” and “child-delayed” families, and increases in empty nesters and senior and frail populations, particularly those who are living alone.
The office complex is owned and managed by Ron Laverdiere. The only person from the general public to speak at the Public Hearing was fellow South Amherst developer Rich Slobody, who heartily endorsed the expansion.
Slobody, who owns two adjacent office/retail buildings, pointed out that if the town wishes to make the area a true village center this expansion would help provide a vital component: customers.
The Planning Board voted unanimously to support the Special Permits, with Chair David Webber adding the closing comment, "Great project; and we're excited for the town."