Union Square Affordable Housing Project Joins With Market-Rate Developer
Previously a 40-apartment affordable housing project, a proposed housing development in Union Square now includes a market-rate 44-unit apartment building.
A proposed affordable housing project in Union Square that drew bitter opposition from some in the neighborhood has morphed into something different.
The Somerville Community Corporation, the non-profit group behind the affordable housing project, has teamed up with Cathartes Private Investments, a real estate developer, to propose a new two-building project that includes both affordable and market-rate apartments.
The new project would include the already-proposed 40-unit affordable housing complex at 181 Washington, the site of the former Boys & Girls Club.
It would be built alongside a five-story, 44-unit market-rate apartment complex at 197 Washington St., the site of Cota Struzziero McKenna Funeral Home.
Both buildings would have retail space on the first floor.
At a meeting about the new proposal held Tuesday night at the Argenziano School, Jim Goldenberg, principal at Cathartes, said, "We are really excited about this project." He added he thinks it would "make a positive impact on this neighborhood and this city."
Cathartes has previously developed buildings in Somerville, including 150 Innerbelt Rd. and 70 Innerbelt Rd. It's also developed several office, hotel and residential spaces in Boston and around the Northeast, according to its website.
Although the new proposal would consist of two buildings, Adam Dash, an attorney representing the developers, said at Tuesday's meeting the development will go before Somerville's planning board as one project. He added the developers haven't officially filed an application with the city yet; they plan to do so after more community meetings.
One possible hurdle the project would have to surmount is getting permission from the Somerville Historic Preservation Commission.
Dick Bauer, chair of the Historic Preservation Commission, said Tuesday the commission determined, in December, the Cota Struzziero McKenna Funeral Home is historically significant.
He said there will be a public hearing about the matter on Feb. 19, and afterward the commission would determine if maintaining the building is "preferable."
Dash said, "We're committed to working with Historic Preservation on this."
At Tuesday's meeting, some Union Square residents expressed concerns about the size and scale of the project and the amount of parking there. With 84 parking spots planned for 84 apartments, some felt there wasn't enough parking, while others thought there was too much.
Dash said the project falls under new zoning codes in Union Square that seek to encourage larger, transit-oriented development.
Ward 3 Alderman Thomas Taylor, speaking Tuesday night, said about the project, "We're in the beginning stages here, so there's a long way to go."