Williamstown Receives 2 Bids for Affordable Housing projects

By Stephen DravisWilliamstown Correspondent
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Williamstown Town Manager Peter Fohlin opens the packages containing proposals to develop affordable housing on a pair of town-owned sites.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The town has received two responses to its request for proposals to develop a pair of brown field sites for the purposes of affordable housing.

Berkshire Housing Development Corp. in Pittsfield and Boston-based Arch Street Development submitted proposals that were opened on Friday afternoon at Town Hall.

The RFPs were developed over several months by the town's Affordable Housing Committee and issued under the auspices of the Board of Selectmen, which has the authority to dispose of the two sites in question: the former Town Garage site on Water Street and the former PhoTech mill property on Cole Avenue.

BHDC, which partnered with the Boston-based Women's Institute for Housing and Economic Development, submitted a plan that utilize just one of the sites. Its proposal would put 46 units in a three-story building on the Cole Avenue property.

Arch Street, whose past projects include the Clark Biscuit Apartments in North Adams, submitted proposals for both properties. Arch Street proposes a 25-unit, four-story structure on Water Street and 60 apartments in "a series of townhouse clusters" for the PhoTech site.

"We think we have two responses and from qualified, highly respected developers with track records in the area, and we're very pleased," said Affordable Housing Committee Chairwoman Catherine Yamamoto, who watched the town's procurement agent, Town Manager Peter Fohlin, open the bids.

The Selectmen on Monday are scheduled to discuss the extent to which it wants to be involved in evaluating the proposals, Fohlin said.

Yamamoto's committee has a meeting on Thursday at which it will begin the process of scoring the proposals. Yamamoto was joined at Friday's opening by two members of her panel, Van Ellet and Leigh Short.

Yamamoto said Friday one of the highest priorities for the committee always has been getting the maximum number of subsidized housing units possible on one or both of the sites.

Arch Street's proposal specifies that at Water Street, three of the 25 units would be accessible to residents earning 30 percent or less than the area median income (as determined by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development). Eight of the Water Street units would be for residents earning 50 percent or less than AMI. The remaining 14 units would be for residents at 60 percent of AMI.

Arch Street's plan for PhoTech would include six units at 30 percent AMI, five at 50 percent AMI and 49 units at 60 percent AMI.

Berkshire Housing's plan for Cole Avenue calls for eight units at 30 percent of AMI and the remaining 38 at 60 percent of AMI.

Both developers' plans would include the demolition of the former mill building, referred to as "the cube." Neither developer's plan makes any mention of any commercial use at the sites or any market rate housing.

Arch Street's proposal listed a $20.6 million total development cost for the Cole Avenue site and a $9.7 million cost for developing the former Town Garage site.

Berkshire Housing's proposal lists a $14.5 million total development cost for the Cole Avenue project.

Tags: affordable housing,   RFP,   

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