BRINGING MIXED-INCOME HOUSING TO SWAMPSCOTT
View from Pittman Road
The proposed Elm Place project has evolved since the development team first began meeting with members of the Swampscott community in October 2020. Ideas from members of the Select and Planning boards, abutters, neighbors and others in the community have been important to refining the preliminary plans for the project.
The development team, led by WinnDevelopment and property owners Bruce Paradise of Swampscott and Barry Turkanis of Marblehead, has resumed public meetings to listen to community feedback on the potential changes before finalizing its proposal. Here are the changes currently under consideration:
Mixed-Income Community: Forty percent (40%) of the apartments would be set aside as affordable housing based on Area Median Income (AMI), while 60% of the units would be rented to middle income and market rate residents. The development's team current thinking envisions:
34 units at 60% AMI (affordable for two people with a combined income of up to $57,120)
15 units at 30% AMI (affordable for two people with a combined income of up to $28,560)
Middle Income Units
16 units at 120% AMI (affordable for two people with a combined income of up to $114,240)
12 units at 80% AMI (affordable for two people with a combined income of up to $76,160)
Market Rate Units
43 units at unrestricted market rate rents
Subsidized Housing Inventory: While only 40% of the apartments created would be affordable housing units, 100% of the apartments built in this development would count towards the state's threshold for 40B subsidized housing inventory. Specifically, the development proposal as currently envisioned would increase the town’s subsidized housing inventory to 5.65%, an increase of nearly 2% from the March 2020 level. The Elm Place project would bring Swampscott more than half way to its affordable housing requirement under Chapter 40B.
Height: The preliminary design discussed in 2020 featured a building five stories above street level. The design now under consideration would strategically stagger the height of the building, creating a three-story structure on Essex Street, four-and-a-half stories on Pitman Road and five stories along the train tracks. Due to the topography of the development site, the building will appear to be four-stories high when viewed from Pitman Road.
Density: The developers are now considering 120 units – a decrease from the 128 envisioned last fall – to reduce density while maintaining the economic feasibility of the project. A 129,480-square-foot apartment building is now envisioned, a 17% reduction from the 156,161-square-foot structure considered in the preliminary concept.
Unit Mix: Of the 120 apartments currently contemplated, 77 would be one-bedroom units (64%), 24 would be two-bedroom units (20%), 12 would be three-bedroom units (10%) and seven would be studio apartments (6%).
Parking: The development team is exploring design changes that would assign one parking space to each unit, creating a minimum one-to-one parking ratio of at least 120 spaces. A parking demand analysis for the area is underway.
Architectural Style: The building style now under consideration offers a New England coastal look with mansard and gable roofs, pronounced eaves, traditional clapboard siding and classical columns. This potential change would bring the look and feel of the development more in line with the character of the neighborhood and community.
Traffic: In addition to finding ways to add parking to the site, the development team is exploring ways to reduce traffic impact and mitigate parking issues in the area, including the use of Blue Bikes, bike racks and storage, Zip Cars, and transit-oriented amenities located inside the building to encourage non-vehicular travel.
Rail Trail Connectivity: The development team is working with the town and the Swampscott Housing Authority to explore ways to create, for the first time, an uninterrupted connection that will allow pedestrians and bicyclists to safely travel to and from the nearby MBTA commuter rail station.
The Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development has approved the Elm Place project as an appropriate affordable housing development for the site. This approval allows the developers to pursue a comprehensive permit from the Swampscott Zoning Board of Appeals under the state's Chapter 40B statute, which was enacted in 1969 to help communities create more safe, affordable housing for individuals and families with low and moderate incomes.