Smith College Names Developer for Affordable Apartments Near Downtown
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—O’Connell Development Group, a Holyoke-based real estate development and management firm, has been selected to build 26 apartments to replace 26 Smith-owned units in the area of Belmont and Arnold avenues that will be removed for the college’s engineering and science building.
The new apartments will be located at 36 Bedford Terrace (corner of Bedford Terrace and State Street). Twenty units will be created through the renovation of an existing apartment building; six will be located in a new building to be constructed in an adjoining parking lot. Parking will be provided on site and nearby.
A joint committee of city, college and community members established the development criteria for the replacement housing. A key stipulation was affordability: 14 units will be affordable for those earning 60 percent of the area median income, 10 units will be affordable for those earning 80 percent of the area median income, and two units will be offered at market rate.
The selection of O’Connell followed a recommendation by a separate committee, jointly appointed by the mayor and the college, to advise on the use of Smith’s affordable housing development fund, a commitment established by the college in 2003.
Bob Reckman, co-owner of Construct Associates, a Northampton-based design and contracting firm, was a member of the group that recommended O’Connell.
“This is a good project, and I am pleased to see it moving forward,” Reckman said. “I am confident that the result will be quality housing for the long term.”
Francesca Maltese, development manager for O’Connell, said the firm is very pleased to have been selected. She noted that O’Connell has been developing and managing affordable housing in Massachusetts for more than 30 years, including Michael’s House, an elderly/handicapped facility on State Street, across from the Bedford Terrace site.
“We are members of the Northampton community, too,” Maltese said, “and we are invested in ensuring that this project meets the college’s and city’s high standards. As well as our own.”
“The Bedford Terrace site, with its proximity to downtown, has many advantages,” she said, noting also that the existing building is in good shape and has had a number of recent upgrades to its mechanical systems.
Renovation and new construction will begin in summer 2006, after Smith students living in the building have been relocated to other college housing. The O’Connell apartments will be ready for occupancy by spring 2007, before Smith begins construction of the engineering and science building. All tenants in the affected buildings have been offered $2,500 relocation assistance and the help of a local relocation expert. Any tenants remaining in the 26 apartments affected by the science construction will have the opportunity to relocate to the new development without meeting income requirements. Their rents will remain within 5 percent of their current rates for at least two years.
The O’Connell development will consist of 14 one-bedroom apartments, 10 two-bedroom apartments, one three-bedroom apartment, and one efficiency.
The number of two- and three-bedroom apartments being created is a 45 percent increase over the ones being replaced, reflecting a desire to provide the type of affordable housing in greatest demand in Northampton.
O’Connell’s development and management of the property is governed by a 99-year ground lease held by the college, with covenants co-held by Smith and the city to ensure long-term affordability.
Subsidies for construction, combined with the value of the property, represent a $3.285-million commitment from the college to affordable housing.
About O’Connell Development Group:
O’Connell Development Group has a 30-year history of developing, financing and managing a variety of development projects. This quality-driven group has its roots in the nationally known O’Connell Companies, whose founder, Daniel O’Connell, started his construction firm in 1879 with a commitment to integrity and excellence, principles that guide the company to this day.
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