Affordable housing at Downing Square, Broadway moves ahead

$22.6M projects to yield 48 units in lengthy process

It's going on three years since two projects in town with 48 rental housing units described as affordable received initial Redevelopment Board approvals, but the construction appears to be in sight.

Davis Square drawing for updated Downing Square plan, Dec. 5, 2016.2016 drawing of Building A, Downing Square.

Pam Hallett, executive director of the Housing Corporation of Arlington, has told YourArlington that she expects to close on projects on Broadway and Downing Square in December.

In case that does not occur, she got some assurance from the Redevelopment Board on Monday, Oct. 21. Its members voted unanimously voted to extend special permits for housing plans at 117 Broadway and 19R Park Ave. for six months beyond their December expiration dates.

Last February, Hallett reported that projects in Downing Square and on Broadway were approved for about $22.6 million, with the state providing about $15.75 million. The Arlington nonprofit corporation is the sponsor. The projects are expected to be built by 2021.

As to the length of time such projects take, Raitt commented Oct. 22: "It can take years of patient capital and a myriad of public and private investment to make affordable housing development come to fruition.

"There is approximately $3 million in town funds being invested in these two projects, which helped leverage significant state resources, particularly low-income housing tax credits.

"We are grateful for HCA’s leadership and continued re-education to the creation of new affordable housing in Arlington."

In closing mode

In response questions, Hallett wrote Oct. 22: "We have secured all funding. We are in closing mode with our investors and lenders and have signed the contract with the general contractor, but that takes a while, and I didn't want to run into the possibility of the permit expiring shortly before closing causing the closing to be postponed."

In a telephone interview, she provided background about the three-year process. The HCA applied to the state in 2017 for a 9-percent low-income tax credit, a process that can occur just once a year.

The initial try failed, despite generous town funding sources, and the application in 2018 lost out because 84 had applied and 22 were successful.

Following approval earlier this year, she said "the state is thrilled" that the town provided the degree of financing it did.

Of the total package of $22.6 million, the state is to provide about $15.75 million. The town is contributing $1.395 million in community-development and community-preservation funds. Malden Redevelopment is including $2.47 million.

What is deemed affordable

All units will be affordable to households earning at or below 60 percent of the area median income. For a single individual, Hallett has said, that is just under $44,000 for 2018.

The Downing Square Broadway Initiative, for which the nonprofit has the $3 million first mortgage of $3 million, will have one-, two- and three-bedroom units.

The site near the Heights, called 19R Park Ave., is at Lowell Street and Park Ave. Extension. The two planned structures expect to have 23 parking spaces.

One building, a three-story walk-up across from Peter Pan Superette, will have six two-bedroom units.

Drawing of plan at 117 Broadway, October 2016Drawing of plan at 117 Broadway at Everett Street.

A second building is a 28 unit, four-story, elevator building running along the Minuteman Bikeway.

Near Thompson School

The East Arlington part of project, at 117 Broadway, near the Thompson School, plans for 14 units, with commercial space on the first floor for the Arlington Food Pantry and perhaps one other tenant. The four-story building will have an elevator and 17 parking spaces.

Once begun, Hallett expects construction to take 18 months. Which structures are built will be determined in negotiations with the general contractor, she said.

These were among a number of projects announced by the Baker administration in February. See the state news release here >> 

March 1, 2019: Housing at Downing Square, Broadway funded

Dec. 16, 2016: Affordable housing at Downing Square gets Redevelopment Board OK
 Oct. 31, 2016: 2nd of 2 affordable-housing plans draw fewer questions

This news summary was published Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019.