The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, September 12, 2008

Carlisle Housing Authority meets with developers for senior housing

With the October submission deadline for proposals quickly approaching, the Carlisle Housing Authority hosted a morning meeting last week for 15 developers interested in designing, building and managing 26 units of affordable senior housing on the Benfield Land on South Street. Chair Alan Lehotsky began with a short presentation outlining the history and current status of the Benfield property, noting that this is the first low cost housing that has been undertaken by the Housing Authority.

Lehotsky outlined the primary reasons for the choice of senior housing in particular. First, according to Lehotsky and Administrative Coordinator Elizabeth Barnett, there is a significant need for senior housing in the area. “There are a lot of seniors who want to continue living here,” Barnett stated, adding “there are already 25 Carlisle residents on the waiting list for the Benfield units.” However, she noted that there is a shortage of senior housing in the area, saying, “For the last 14 years in Concord, there have been no openings in senior housing units for non-residents.”

Lehotsky stated that the Housing Authority would like this to be a “friendly development.” A second reason for the choice of senior housing resulted from close work with the neighbors, who requested a smaller footprint and less traffic, and determined that senior housing would be the most acceptable approach.

Barnett provided responses to several questions that had been submitted prior to the meeting after which she and Lehotsky fielded questions from the group. Some discussion revolved around the senior rental housing on Church Street, Carlisle Village Court, with several developers interested in the current occupancy rate and rent. Other questions focused on the need to provide access to a future playing field, the possibility of finding endangered species on the lot and questions related to the ground lease. Questions that were not fully answered at the meeting will be addressed in a packet that will be mailed to each interested party. Lehotsky noted, “My job is to make this project successful. We want to do additional projects for the townspeople . . . We want this to be something that the town can be proud of and we want to demonstrate to the state what can be done with CPA money.” Community Preservation Act (CPA) monies collected under the town’s 2% real estate tax surcharge have been used to purchase the land, and have been approved to help fund infrastructure such as a development road and septic system.

The Benfield senior housing would include one- and two-bedroom units of a New England design, using green design and construction techniques and with screened parking and natural landscaping. Lehotsky noted that the Housing Authority considers the quality of the design and the experience of the developer/firm to be the most important attributes in the proposals. He stated that the town hopes to choose a developer by November of this year and to begin construction in 2009. “We want to have 40B protection as soon as possible.” If a developer is not chosen in November, the request for development proposals will be adjusted and re-issued. As the meeting ended, many remarked about the perfect weather and the beautiful surroundings to which Barnett responded, “The site is open. It is public conservation land. Please take this opportunity to go and view it.” ∆

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito