Letter: Fuller proposal designed to benefit Gloucester’s citizens pushes affordable housing in
This an artist’s rendering of Cape Ann YMCA’s proposed Housing at Middle Street project. The existing Patillo Building could be connected to the building in the center.
To the editor:
There has been a great deal of misguided speculation and assumption regarding the proposed development of the Fuller site; I hope to clarify several facts.
As a fourth generation Gloucesterman, I have worked and volunteered my entire adult life for the betterment of our community. I would never advocate for something not in the best overall interest of all of Gloucester. The proposed Fuller site plan is an outstanding and positive one for all Gloucester residents
The city administration and City Council, created a request for proposal (RFP) that strongly emphasized the requirement of the three things: mixed use, the maximum money for the sale, and the maximum money in annual tax revenue. This is what the Fuller Mixed Use Venture (FMUV) joint venture partnership complied with, and
emphasized in both the cover letter and the bid packet; clearly stating all market-rate housing for these purposes.
At the May 7, 2015 City Council meeting, representatives of the city shared that the 10.67 acres of land at the Fuller site was valued at $1.65 million and the building was valued at approximately $11 million. In fact, the building is conceivably worth far less than zero when you factor in the expense of tearing down the facility and the remediation of contaminated soils (estimated at $3 million). Given this, $5.6 million is an exceptionally generous price. We planned for horrible conditions needing remediation at the site; once we were allowed due diligence the actual findings were much worse.
There is one standardized and universally accepted formula to determine the case of affordability hardship. Two independent leading experts used this formula in reviewing the FMUV case, and strongly favored a hardship exemption. The third-party reviewer, hired by the city for peer review, opined that as the FMUV project was not a Chapter 40B project, therefore these 40B guidelines could not be applied. Neither the city nor the reviewer has identified nor can define a suitable alternative formula.
Housing on site would be AHINO (Affordable Housing In Name Only). Using the formula direct from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: The regional median income for a family of three is $93,100 (More than $30,000 higher than Gloucester), 80 percent of which would be $74,450. HUD calls for rent to be no more than 30 percent of the household gross income to be considered affordable. That would dictate that these AHINO rental rates would start at $1,861 for the 30 units on site. Conversely, the proposed alternative, truly affordable housing at 71 Middle St. would provide 53 units; a mix of 30 percent ($697 per month), 50 percent ($1163 per month) and 60 percent ($1396 per month).
Don’t believe the hype — on-site AHINO will not help the citizens of Gloucester in any appreciable way; and without city funding involved for 71 Middle St., the citizens of Gloucester will not get priority for this housing, as per Massachusetts state law.
We as a city are most fortunate the FMUV is willing and able to invest $80 million and the YMCA and Harborlight Community Partners are willing to develop another $20 million project to benefit our community:
$4.1 million of “free cash” for the city;
$1.5 million for the Gloucester Affordable Housing Trust;
A brand new, state-of-the-art YMCA for all;
$750,000 annually of increased tax revenue;
Approximately 200-plus jobs during the demo and construction phases; and
Approximately 100-plus jobs on an ongoing basis.
The funds from the Affordable Housing Trust could be leveraged by the partnership of YMCA/Harborlight Community Partners to garner up to $12 million more to provide increased and improved affordable units conveniently located in the heart of downtown Gloucester. Without this city support, by state law, priority will not be given to Gloucester citizens.
Please join your neighbors and friends at Gloucester City Hall at 5:30 p.m. Monday night Jan. 29 for the Planning and Development Committee meeting. I implore you to contact your elected officials, and join me in letting them know you strongly want what is best for Gloucester — sanctioning the already agreed-upon terms of the FMUV proposal.
Executive Director of Teen and Camp Services
Cape Ann YMCA
Read the original article via the Gloucester Times: