Rolling Green Apartments, 204 units
The Amherst Select Board seems to have simply thrown up their hands and quit the fight to maintain our 10% minimum threshold for Subsidized Housing Inventory, a vaccine against a Chapter 40B mega-housing development being shoved down our throats.
Currently with 1,035 affordable units out of a total of 9,621, the town stands at 10.8%. Rolling Green's 204 units represent 20% of our total stock of affordable housing, so once lost the Town's overall SHI drops to 8.5%.
Town officials have known for a half-dozen years that Rolling Green Apartments would be eligible to go to market rate because their federally subsidized loans were closing out.
The 50 year old complex is currently valued at $9,119,200 so an eminent domain taking is unlikely. Town Meeting showed little stomach for eminent domain action last spring, rejecting the idea of taking Echo Village Apartments or the "development rights" of the property in northeast Amherst now slated to become "The Retreat" student housing development.
Almost three years ago Town Meeting appropriated $25,000 for a study pretty much specifically targeting the Rolling Green situation. With the deadline now a mere three weeks away, it would appear Rolling Green is a lost cause.
Not overly "affordable"
And clearly Select Board Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe is not happy about the pace or focus of the process thus far.
You also have to wonder how uncomfortable this makes about-to-be-displaced tenants at Echo Village feel? Their situation came on suddenly, as Jamie Cherewatti only bought the property in January and then immediately jacked up the rents.
Plus, unlike Rolling Green, the 24 Echo Village units do not count towards our affordability index, so town officials have a little less to lose with their instant transition to market rate. And in Amherst, "market rate" is EXPENSIVE.
The Feds lump Amherst in with Springfield when setting maximum allowances for Section 8 housing vouchers. But since Amherst rental units are so expensive (median rent of $1,108 in 2010) those vouchers go elsewhere. Currently only half the 400 vouchers administered by Amherst Housing Authority are used by clients living in Amherst.
Fortunately the town recently commissioned a "Housing Production Plan" to shed light on this chronic housing problem, so the state allows a one year reprieve from an unfriendly Ch40B development.
Maybe now town officials will get serious.