The Nantucket Housing Authority board on July 7 chose the Housing Assistance Corporation of Hyannis to develop its new 50 owner-occupied mixed income Sachem’s Path home project on nine acres along Surfside Road. The HAC was one of two bidders interested in building the affordable units and won out over E.A. Fish Companies based in Braintree.
A key point in the plan, though it is just in the preliminary stages of applying for board approvals, is to allow potential home owners to have input into the design, site position relative to the street and window and door types for their houses. The plan further seeks to involve the Community Preservation Committee, members of the at-large community with affordable housing interests and others.
“It is going to be a really exciting approach,” said Renee Ceely, the NHA executive director.
In its development proposal, the HAC wrote, “We believe that for us to orchestrate and conduct this community development process will require approximately six months and will result in the highest quality housing while maximizing island business and community involvement. We realize that this is unconventional, but what we intend to achieve is also unconventional — and quite special as well.”
The housing will be on land owned by the authority that abuts its existing 41 state and federally subsidized public rentals. The property will be conveyed to the corporation with perpetual affordable housing deed restrictions on every unit and a first right of refusal granted to the NHA in the event of a sale.
The project is important to the authority because a significant portion of the island’s year-round housing has been purchased for summer homes, leaving many community residents unable to buy property at its subsequently inflated value. A 2002 Housing Action Plan survey done by the town revealed that the housing crisis amounts to the primary source of ‘most of Nantucket’s economic, social and even environmental problems.’
The Housing Assistance Corporation has been building affordable dwellings for nearly 30 years totaling approximately 350 units, including five housing developments between 2006 and 2008. The corporation currently has 62 rental units under construction.
Its development team for the Nantucket project is comprised of professionals who have worked with HAC on previous projects in the Northeast and includes architects Coldham & Hartman of North Amherst, Mass. and Brown, Lindquist, Fenuccio and Raber of Yarmouthport, Mass. The landscape architect is Coplon Associates based in Bar Harbor, Maine but also licensed in Massachusetts, and the design consultant is South Mountain Company owned by John Abrams of West Tisbury, on Martha’s Vineyard. Horsley Witten Group, which has been involved with other Nantucket projects, will be the civil engineer. The general contractor and subcontractors will be local people, Ceely explained.
The development, formally called the Sachem’s Path Homeownership Project, will consist of one, two and three-bedroom homes with 25 percent priced for families earning between 60 and 80 percent of Nantucket’s median income and the remainder priced for those earning 81 to 150 percent of the median income.
The architectural requirements reflect traditional local designs. The developer will create a community feel for the project while also using site methods and landscaping to provide privacy for the units. All steps necessary will be taken to make the homes energy efficient and save on water. The bidders were evaluated, in part, according to their intent to utilize a local workforce in construction and management of the property. The Sachem’s Path property manager will be the Nantucket Housing Authority.