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Affordable Housing Complex on West Street Could Cost Up to $15 Million to Develop

Developers for 'The Parc at Medfield' plan to buy land for $1.65 million and spend $13 million to develop 96 affordable apartments on 9.22 acres off West Street.

This is the final installment of a three part series regarding this property. To read part one of this series, To read part two of this series, .

On Oct. 18, 2011, Gatehouse Group LLC of Mansfield agreed to purchase 9.22 acres of land from Medfield North Meadows LLC for $1.65 million with the intent of building 96 units of affordable housing to be known as “The Parc at Medfield.”

The land is located between North Meadows Road (Route 27) and West Street, near the old Potourri building. The area is zoned industrial but by using the affordable housing law – or Chapter “40B” – the residential project could move forward regardless.

Under 40B, if a town does not have at least 10 percent of its available housing at an “affordable” rate – Medfield is currently at approximately 4.4 percent – then a developer can essentially build any project in any place without regard for local zoning laws. 

If a developer applied for a permit and was denied for any reason, the developer could easily appeal the decision at the state level where it would typically be overturned.

If approved, Gatehouse expects to start construction in January 2013. According to the development schedule in their application, CITE, they expect to have one building of 48 units completed by September 2013 and ready to rent in January 2014. The second phase would start in September 2013 and be completed in July 2014, just three months before the current purchase and sale agreement expires (October 2014). 

Records show the purchase price is $1.65 million and Gatehouse plans to spend $13.5 million to develop the property into 12 one-bedroom, 24 two-bedroom, and 12 three-bedroom units making the total development cost per unit approximately $277,000.

Suggested rent is $625 for a one-bedroom unit, $900 for a two-bedroom, and $1,050 for a three-bedroom.  The income guidelines are listed as “low income below 60 percent” for 43 units and “other income 30 percent” for five units.

The listed maximum “fair market rents” are listed as $1,149, $1,349 and $1,613, respectively, for a one, two or three-bedroom unit.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Osler Peterson said this project “would become the densest development in town, with about eight units per acre.” 

“A quarter of the proposed units are three bedroom units and half of the proposed units are two bedroom units, so it is likely that the density of people in the complex will be higher than we are used to having located in one spot in town,” Peterson said.  

Plans show that, on the proposed 9.22 acre site, the two ‘low/mid-rise’ apartment buildings and clubhouse would take up 9.9 percent of the property, pavement (including 158 parking spaces) would take up 20 percent, and open area would comprise 70.1 percent of the property.

The two buildings would be accented by a community clubhouse featuring a Great Room with a fireplace for social gatherings. It would also have a fully-equipped fitness and business center.

Each apartment would have a “green building design” and would include Energy Star appliances, energy-efficient HVAC, decorator designed kitchens, designer carpets or ceramic tile floors, wood cabinetry, faux wood blinds, walk-in closet storage, and 24 hour maintenance.

The Parc at Medfield has been designed to foster a vibrant neighborhood-oriented community that will accommodate the busy lives of its residents,” says the Executive Summary of the application.

Gatehouse has built several of these “affordable rental communities” around the state including The Preserve in Walpole, Quail Run in Stoughton, and Chestnut Farm in Raynham.

Errin Chapin January 27, 2012 at 02:08 PM
When proposing such a development, does the developer have to explain the impact of his project on the infrastructure of the town? Or because the state mandates an affordable housing allotment, are these factors simply not taken into account? What will the town see in tax revenues from such a housing development? What are the costs added with the potential, say, 400 students to our school system? Or are these numbers irrelevant to the permit? They certainly are not relevant to us taxpayers.
Errin Chapin January 27, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Oops irrelevant.
Rich Callahan January 27, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Is it possible to provide the names and residential addresses of the Gatehouse Corp. executives? I am curious to learn if affordable housing is available in their towns. Thank you.
Medfield Resident January 27, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Will there be a vote at Town Meeting on approval of this apartment complex?? There should be. The taxpayers of the town should be heard as to major decisions that will have a large impact on our community.
Osler Peterson January 27, 2012 at 09:28 PM
40B projects do a complete end run around both the town's zoning and permitting process. The Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Medfield has the opportunity to permit the project, but no real opportunity to deny it, as at most they have to approve it subject to reasonable conditions. If a town denies the permit, the state will grant it on the developer's appeal The costs to the town caused by the project are not considered relevant, whether those costs are for the town's infrastructure improvements or operating costs. These limitations on town control are a major part of why the Board of Selectmen agree to 440 units of housing at the Medfield State Hospital site, as it got the town above our 10% affordable housing levels, which then precludes any 40B developments, and gets one back town controls over developments.
Medfield Resident January 27, 2012 at 09:40 PM
with regard to this issue, its taxation without representation for Medfield residents...
Errin Chapin January 28, 2012 at 01:10 AM
If we have already agreed to the hospital redo, then this guy can't force the issue, correct? Maybe we should put to town vote a tax on developers? Tell me how to do it, and I will set it in motion. I don't think that the developers should be allowed to force the town to bear the burden of their investment. They need to pay the town back for the cost to enhance our infrastructure.
Rich Callahan January 28, 2012 at 01:17 AM
If the town of Medfield is required to proceed with affordable housing, a smarter approach would be to adopt 40R. This process would remove the influence/control from an outside developer, and allow the town of Medfield to plan and proceed accordingly for affordable housing. The town of Marblehead is undertaking the preferred 40R route. Residents need to have a louder voice than an outside developer.
Osler Peterson January 28, 2012 at 03:13 AM
Errin, I believe the trigger for counting the Medfield State Hospital affordable units is the issuance of the building permits, and we are years away from that, so we are still at risk for these 40B's anywhere in town, at eight units per acre. Ricch, I favor a 40R development at the Medfield State Hospital site, because I believe one gets a better development via the 40R, as the developer's profit is not limited, as it is with the 40B. However, when the planning board and the Board of Selectmen discussed 40R for the Medfield State Hospital site, I was the only one of the eight of us who favored using 40R. I do hope that the town meeting gets to ultimately make that decision. 40R is usually adopted for specific sites, not town wide, as it allows high density as of right, such that the zoning for it has to be written with great thought, so that unexpected high densities do not result. The dilemma of 40B is that the town does lose control. The way around the 40B risk is for the town to plan and create more than 10.% affordable housing in locations where the town wants it to be. Hence the plan to have it located at the Medfield State Hospital site.
Shawn Collins January 28, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Osler - do the Planning Board members and your fellow Selectmen still have the same opinion of 40R, especially with current sentiment from residents over the Gatehouse Group LLC's proposed project? Does the Gatehouse Group benefit from the fact that the Medfield North Meadows LLC's proposed project was already permitted by the Town back in 2008? Are they (Gatehouse) submitting what is essentially the same plan? What kind of timeline for approval are we looking at here?
Rich Callahan January 28, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Osler - when does the town meet to discuss this significant matter? Do you know how many states have 40B, can it be overturned? Thank you.
Errin Chapin January 28, 2012 at 03:51 PM
I think it is ridiculous that our town cannot protect itself against these situations. How do you go about getting the state to take this burden into consideration when the project is appealed? Given the fact that the state is already in a position to ruin our town, adding this additional potential development is that much more disturbing. Not sure when the state passed this ramrod bill that they even understood the infrastructure domino effect. I will ask again, is there no tax on developers?
Will E January 29, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Chapter 40B has been in effect since around 1969. There was a ballot question in 2010 asking the voters of the Commonwealth if they would like to repeal Chapter 40B, and I believe only around 42% of Mass. voters cast their ballot to repeal it. Residents need to contact their legislators and march to the polls if they want change. Unfortunately, in a state where affordable housing is a major issue, some residents are concerned that repealing 40B all together would be a setback to affordable housing efforts, particularly in more affluent towns.
Bob January 29, 2012 at 02:13 AM
With the current legal situation regarding 40b. Would it be better for the zoning board to approve the plan so that it can set reasonable conditions like assisting funding for additional police and fire personnel which will certainly be highly impacted by the proposed development. This seems more palatable then the alternative of the state side stepping the town without any such conditions being put it place and a strain being put on our public safety departments.
Osler Peterson January 30, 2012 at 03:05 PM
When I saw the discussion this morning, I posted some answers at my blog where longer material is possible - see http://medfield02052.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/answers-to-que…on-west-street/ ‎
Medfield Resident January 30, 2012 at 03:49 PM
How about a town meeting where the pros and cons are presented by the town administrators, zoning board etc to Medfield residents about this project. The residents of the town could then vote whether they approve or disapprove of the project (obviously the vote would not be binding but it would be informational). If the residents disapprove of the project then the zoning board should take this under serious consideration in issuing or denying the permit. I don't think approving the permit just because the Commonwealth will override a denial is acceptable. Other towns have fought 40b, maybe not successfully, but fought nonetheless. If anything, a fight may buy more time for favorable case law, favorable legislation to come through. I've been a resident of Medfield for a long time and this is, in my opinion, the most important issue that we have faced.
Osler Peterson January 30, 2012 at 04:04 PM
I am all in favor of as much town discussion as possible, and would welcome that at the Board of Selectmen meetings, if someone wants to add it to our agenda. What gets discussed at the town meeting is controlled by the moderator, but someone needs to seek to get a warrant article added to make that happen. I generally favor our ZBA approving any proposed 40B, but with thoughtful conditions added, as at least the town then gets the benefit of those conditions, whereas, if the ZBA merely turns down a 40B application, then we know we will get the state Housing Appeals Commission approving the application, but without any conditions at all. It is a Hobson's choice of sorts, but to my mind it is better to get something than nothing. Medfield is fortunate to have a highly experienced and thoughtful Zoning Board of Appeals, that we can count on to do the best they can for the town.
Patti March 01, 2012 at 02:10 AM
How is the development going to effect the taxes for current residence?

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