The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 9, 2009

Housing Authority picks Benfield developer

The Housing Authority has chosen the Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) as their primary choice to build and manage 26 units of senior affordable rental housing on the Benfield Land on South Street. The other firms that had submitted proposals were Common Ground Development Corporation of Lowell and JNJUHL and Associates LLC.

A letter has been sent to NOAH inviting them to enter into negotiations with the town. Approximately four acres on the site will be leased to the developer. The town will provide up to $425,000 for the driveway and septic system infrastructure and the rest of the construction and management costs are to be the responsibility of the developer.

The town’s Request for proposal (RFP) spelled out Project Guidelines: There must be a mix of one- and two-bedroom units. The building(s) should: be sensitive to the character and scale of the surrounding community, not be higher than a three-story building, contain a common room for gatherings and recreation, contain an office to provide supportive services, laundry facilities, parking areas, minimal grass and a patio area. “Green Building” practices should be followed. An effort should be made to save stone walls and trees.

NOAH is a 21-year-old multi-service non-profit community development corporation (CDC) that is based in East Boston. Its website ( states: “Its mission is to create and preserve affordable housing opportunities and build safe and healthy neighborhoods for those most in need and others challenged by today’s housing market.”

On December 18 the Housing Authority selection committee ranked the three firms who had submitted proposals using criteria that had been published in the Request For Proposals (RFP) published in August. The committee includes Housing Authority Chair Alan Lehotsky, members Susan Stamps, Steven Pearlman, James Bohn and Administrative Coordinator Elizabeth Barnett.

Selection process

The committee went on site visits, interviewed present and previous clients, and performed in-depth background checks and endeavored to follow all regulations for the selection process. For instance, during the December 18 meeting, the selection committee avoided using the firms’ names, referring to them only by assigned identification numbers 1, 2 and 3. Barnett said this practice was maintained throughout the selection process.

Three private meetings were held with the developers, their lawyers and accountants, to discuss the applicants’ financial resources, held in executive sessions under the advice of Town Counsel. Selectman Alan Carpenito, an abutter to the Benfield Land, had protested the lack of public access, before being asked to leave by Housing Authority Chair Alan Lehotsky (see Reservations voiced on Benfield housing.)

Ranking criteria

Each firm was scored as “Highly Advantageous,” “Advantageous” or “Less Advantageous” in each area of the criteria which included: construction experience and capacity, financial experience and capacity, feasibility of the development plan, quality of proposed design and product, cost-control ability and current capacity and ability to work with government. NOAH was ranked consistently in the “Highly Advantageous” category for all the criteria. For more details of how each proposal was ranked, see “Benfield housing developer choice examined

In the end NOAH had received top marks in six criteria, Common Ground had received three and JNJUHL had received one.

Committee praised

Selectman John Williams told the committee, “You’ve done a very nice job of really drilling down into the qualifications. The criteria were well thought through, and I applaud the process.”

Upcoming public meetings include:

On January 15 (Clark Room, Town Hall), the Housing Authority will make a presentation to the Carlisle Affordable Housing Trust, updating them on the process that was followed and the results of their findings. A representative from NOAH will be introduced and will give a short presentation. On January 27, the Housing Authority will give a short presentation to the Board of Selectmen. ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito