Plans for affordable senior housing in Swampscott


SWAMPSCOTT — Plans to build an affordable senior housing project at the shuttered Machon Elementary School are progressing with construction expected to begin in 2019. The project will need to be finished in 18 months according to the land development agreement.

The Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the land development agreement between the town and the developer selected for the project, B’nai B’rith Housing, at a recent meeting.

“We’re excited that it’s finally moving forward,” said Peter Kane, director of community development.

B’nai B’rith, a nonprofit that builds affordable homes for seniors in Greater Boston, was approved at Town Meeting last May to build Senior Residences at the Machon. Under the terms of the deal, the nonprofit would sign a 99-year ground lease for $500,000. The purchase includes an additional $50,000 payment for off-site improvements.

The complex, at 35 Burpee Road, will include 38 one-bedroom units and 48 parking spaces. Each unit would have one parking space and 10 guest spaces would be available.

B’nai B’rith plans to reuse the original 1920 building and demolish the 1963 addition. The town retains control of the property until B’nai B’rith closes on the property and the ground lease is executed.

The outside deadline for execution of the ground lease is 16 months from the January due diligence deadline. Extensions could be granted if the developer has not obtained public financing. Selectman Peter Spellios said the developer’s due diligence includes physical and legal investigation of the property.

Spellios said B’nai B’rith is also preparing schematic plans for the project to submit to the board for approval. The developer had already submitted limited floor plans as part of its response to the Request for Proposals (RFP), but they do not constitute schematic plans. The selectmen plan to hold a community forum for public input on the project after receiving those plans, he added.

B’nai B’rith also has to go through a permitting process. Spellios said the developer will also be applying for tax credits and other subsidies associated with a low-income project.

“We’re really delighted,” said Susan Gittelman, executive director of B’nai B’rith Housing. “We’ve already gotten started and are really wanting to turn this into the kind of neighborhood asset and larger community asset that I’m guessing folks are hoping for.”

Eight units are reserved for households at or below 30 percent of the average median income and 30 units are 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 [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

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