23 Aug 2014
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Conifer Hill Commons Takes Shape for November Opening

There are 90 rental units with a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, all of which are designated as affordable housing for families with low to moderate incomes.

Conifer Hill Commons Takes Shape for November Opening Conifer Hill Commons Takes Shape for November Opening
All six buildings are standing, but in various stages of construction, at Danvers' new affordable housing complex at 121 Conifer Hill Dr. The site is located in what was an undeveloped wooded area behind the Conifer Hill office park and Danvers Plaza.

Conifer Hill Commons, when finished in January 2014, will contain 90 apartments in six three-story townhouse-style buildings. The mix of rental units includes 57 two-bedroom units, 21 one-bedroom units, 12 three-bedroom units and 12 units for Department of Mental Health clients.

All the units are designated as affordable housing under the state's Chapter 40B law and local officials tout the project as a positive one for Danvers that meets a need for local families who have low or moderate incomes.

The local development firm Kavanaugh Advisory Group did not seek a 40B permit from the town, however, in order to skirt local zoning laws. A variance was granted because the land is zoned as a highway corridor.

Residency is done by lottery and based on income-eligibility. Preference was also given to Danvers residents.

Eligibility is limited to up to 60 percent of the area median income, which actually encompasses the Boston area, not just Danvers. And five of the units are actually slotted for residents with up to 50 percent of the area median income.

A housing lottery was held back in August for the new units, but there is currently a waiting list and applicants can still add their name to that list. Call Gladys Agudelo at Maloney Properties for more information at 617-209-5229. 

Here's how the income limits break down per household size (using 60 percent AMI):

  • Family of 1, $39,660
  • Family of 2, $45,360
  • Family of 3, $51,000
  • Family of 4, $56,640
  • Family of 5, $61,200

Rents on most of the units are also within 30 percent of the median income. For example, eight of the one bedroom apartments are set at $922 per month while 55 of the two-bedroom units are $1,102 per month.

To publicly celebrate the project and show off the progress so far, the developers held a ribbon cutting Oct. 10 with local and state officials. And by Nov. 1, Kavanaugh says 48 units should be ready for tenants.

Selectmen Gardner Trask and Dan Bennett were in attendance for the ceremony, along with state Sen. Joan Lovely, state Rep. Ted Speliotis, Mass. Undersecretary for Housing and Community Development Aaron Gornstein and Director of Mass. Housing Partnership David Rockwell.

"They're beautiful apartments, which will enrich the community, not just by the buildings themselves, but by the families they'll be bringing to the community," Trask told fellow selectmen at a recent meeting.

He added that while new development often raises concerns of effects on the town's schools, traffic and water resources, there is a "positive impact" from having 90 new families "become part of the fabric of the community."

He said many of these families will likely become volunteers in town at the schools, senior center or elsewhere and bring further diversity to Danvers.

To go along with the new apartments, there will also be two playgrounds constructed and plenty of greenery surrounding the townhouses. The site is also readily accessible from Route 1, I-95 and Route 62.

The project was first proposed by Kavanaugh as a much larger 200- to 240-unit development in 2010 that would be constructed in multiple phases and eventually replace apartments at Rand Circle, which are owned by the Danvers Housing Authority. Many of those units are in need of costly repairs.

A scaled-down plan for 90 units was approved, however, in 2011 by the Planning Board. The total project cost about $24, most of which was privately funded.

In total, more than $3.3 million in public funds helped finance the project -- a $1 million loan from a state Affordable Housing Trust Fund was announced in February and $1.55 million in state housing subsidies and $813,176 in federal low-income housing tax credits were awarded in 2011.

You can find more details on the amenities and layout of the new housing complex online here.

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