Pictured is a rendering of the Senior Residences at the Machon.
By GAYLA CAWLEY
SWAMPSCOTT — Draft schematic plans for the affordable senior housing redevelopment of the shuttered Machon Elementary School were presented to residents for the first time Thursday night.
Residents gathered at Swampscott High School to hear project plans presented by Peter Kane, director of community development, and the developers, B’nai B’rith Housing, represented by Susan Gittelman, executive director, and Holly Grace, senior project manager.
The schematic plans have to be approved by the Board of Selectmen, which is scheduled to vote on them on April 5. If approved, the developer will be able to finalize plans and submit them for the permit review process. Town officials said that B’nai B’rith will also be applying for tax credits associated with a low-income project.
“We’re really looking forward to this partnership with you, the neighborhood and the town,” Gittelman told the gathered residents. “We’re very excited about this.”
Town Meeting last May approved the selection and redevelopment proposal from B’nai B’rith Housing, a nonprofit that builds affordable homes for seniors in Greater Boston. The developer’s proposal is to build Senior Residences at the Machon, a complex at 35 Burpee Road that will include 38 one-bedroom units and 48 parking spaces. Each unit would have one parking space and 10 guest spaces would be available.
The town later entered into a land development agreement with B’nai B’rith. Under the terms of the deal, the nonprofit signed a 99-year ground lease for $500,000. The purchase includes an additional $50,000 for off-site improvements.
B’nai B’rith plans to improve and reuse the 1920 building and demolish and replace the 1963 addition. Draft plans showed that the developer plans to add a three-story addition.
Grace said the overall design goal is for the building to be wheelchair accessible and accessible for people with disabilities. Three staff people will work regularly in the building, she said, including a resident services coordinator who will help residents access community-based services as needed as they age. She said those services could include home health aides, housekeeping and wellness activities.
“With this model, we tried to focus on and keep the mind and the body healthy,” Grace said. “The goal is to be able to have residents age in place in this building.”
An elevator will be located in the middle of the building for people with mobility concerns, Grace said. There will be three floors of apartments. She said the smallest apartment unit would be about 600 square feet, while some would be more than 700 square feet.
Residents in attendance were concerned there wouldn’t be adequate parking to accommodate all of the residents, arguing that there may be couples who live in the one-bedroom units rather than only single people.
Kane said with affordable senior housing, there could be residents, because of income level and the age demographic, that don’t have vehicles at all in the household. He said the residents may also have adult children or family members close by who they work with to get around.
“From our experience, I do not think it’s going to be an issue,” Gittelman said.
Other questions centered around financing. Grace said the projection was that the development would generate approximately $38,000 in real estate taxes for the first year of occupancy.
Gerard Perry, a Burpee Road resident, said he has been an opponent of the project, and wanted open space, but thinks the town has to move forward after the Town Meeting vote to approve the proposal. He requested that the developers keep the neighbors involved in the process to alleviate their concerns.
“Hopefully, we’ll make this a win for the whole town,” Perry said.
Jonathan Leamon, a Swampscott resident, asked how much 38 units of affordable housing would contribute to the town’s 3.7 percent stock. Kane said the current amount of affordable housing in the town’s inventory is 217 units, and another 38 would get the town to more than 4 percent, and closer to the state requirement of 10 percent.
Eight units are reserved for households at or below 30 percent of the average median income and 30 units are reserved for those at or below 60 percent. Preference will be given to residents over age 62. The maximum local preference allowed by the state is 70 percent.
Gayla Cawley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley