Former sawmill property currently pays $10,000 annually in taxes
North Square at Mill District will pay over $500,000 annually in property tases
The good folks from Beacon Communities completed an exhausting trifecta this week with professional presentations to the Select Board on Monday, Planning Board on Wednesday and the second of three appearances before the all important ZBA last night.
And as usual the NIMBYs were out in force.
The North Square development is seeking a Comprehensive Permit to allow the 130 unit project to move forward. Located on a 5 acre former industrial site with relatively flat terrain and good soil conditions the $45 million project would address two BIG problems in our little college town:
Over half our property is owned by tax exempts -- mainly our institutes of higher education -- so those of us on the tax rolls have to shoulder more of the burden. And of the 50% of us on the tax rolls 90% is residential and only 10% commercial.
Former sawmill will be demolished
The Beacon Project is mixed use with commercial on the ground floor or 20% of the entire project, which will of course feed off the other 80% that is residential.
Amherst currently has an 11.3% Subsidized Housing Inventory but the ONLY reason it is still above the 10% threshold (avoiding a Ch40B development) is because Beacon purchased Rolling Green Apartments 2.5 years ago and kept all 204 units on the SHI.
The 26 units of subsidized housing would be a significant contribution to that under served demographic since the 42 unit Olympia Oaks went online 18 months ago.
But because of the state and federal money involved the entire 130 housing units -- not just the 26 affordable ones -- will count towards the town's SHI thus guaranteeing protection from a hostile Ch40B for many, many years to come.
Beacon purchased Rolling Green for $30.25 million ($1.25 million of town CPA $) thus keeping it on our Subsidized Housing Inventory
Unfortunately in this town anti-development sentiment is an ingrained religion which does not differentiate between visionary projects like this one proposed by Beacon Communities and quick-buck cookie cutter projects targeting our #1 demographic, college aged youth.
Zoning Board of Appeals last night
The ZBA should send a positive message to responsible developers state wide and wholeheartedly support North Square at Mill District with a unanimous vote on January 5th.
ZBA presenters (front row) and audience last night