Developers proposing to build a 40B apartment complex on the site of the former Sterritt Lumber location will host a community meeting on the project.
The community meeting will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020 from 7-9 p.m. in the Lecture Hall at Watertown High School, 50 Columbia St.
The project is proposed for the Sterritt Lumber site at 148 Waltham St. in the Westside of Watertown. The developer, Nordblom Development Company, has submitted an application to MassHousing to build a 40B housing project with 253 apartments. The building would be six stories tall, with parking on the ground floor and five floors of apartments and amenities (including a pool) above.
Documents submitted by developers to the Town’s Planning Department also show a drawing of a 60,000 sq. ft. biotech laboratory building with 120 parking spaces. This alternative could be built under the current zoning for the land.
Chapter 40B allows developers to build more dense housing projects in return for renting or selling 25 percent of the units at affordable rates. The project proposed on Waltham Street would have 64 affordable units. Under 40B rules, the Town does not have authority to approve or deny 40B projects, and the developers are allowed to bypass a municipality’s zoning. The Town would still have some input on the project.
Communities can seek “Safe Harbor” from 40B by showing they have met their requirement for affordable housing. That is usually done by having 10 percent or more of housing units deemed as affordable. Watertown does not meet this standard. According to Nordblom’s application, the Town has 1,105 affordable units, but would need 447 more to reach 10 percent.
However, Watertown applied for Safe Harbor using a different method which looks at the percentage of total land used for affordable housing. A community must have at least 1.5 percent of developable land used for affordable housing, and Assistant Town Manager Steve Magoon said that State officials declared the Town has 1.7 percent of its land used for affordable housing.
The calculation must be made for each proposed 40B project, and Watertown’s application was made for a proposed project at 13 Coolidge Hill Road. Developers of that property are now seeking to build a self-storage facility.