The Board of Selectmen has authorized Town Manager Julie Jacobson to proceed on reuse plans for the Mary D. Stone and Julia Bancroft school buildings. In late May, the Elementary School Re-Use/Disposition Advisory Group met and discussed the three proposals submitted, 2 for MDS and 1 for JB. The group unanimously voted to recommend Pennrose Properties, LLC as the developer for both properties.
Pennrose Properties is a private full-service real estate development firm with 35 years of experience. They have developed over 15,000 rental housing units in 220 distinct developments in 12 states plus the District of Columbia. They also intend to manage the properties once completed.
Each project will retain the original school building and façade while demolishing the multiple additions and adding new construction in its place. Both buildings will have 55 studio, one and two bedroom units of high quality senior housing. 8 will be market rate with the remainder marketed at or below 60% Area Median Income. Auburn has a median household income of about $73,000.
Both projects will be Chapter 40B senior housing projects and will help Auburn reach its affordable housing goals mandated by the Commonwealth. The projected development cost for MDS is $17,507,528 with a new 4-story addition and $17,940,117 for JB with a 3-story addition. Community rooms and amenity spaces will be made available to the town for meetings at no cost. Pennrose is already working with the WRTA to provide paratransit services to residents when needed.
Pennrose’s financial proposal includes $50,000 for each building, $50,000 to offset the town’s legal and consulting costs to transfer the deeds and $25,000 at each site to improve the playgrounds which will be retained by the town.
This process will not be quick, but such is the case of major projects when executed properly. Initial design work is expected to take the rest of this year, zoning requirements will be completed by February 2018, and financing should be finished by August 2018. The sale will close in December 2018, and construction can then begin. The plan is to have both projects complete by the end of 2019. Patience may be the key for residents, neighbors and potential tenants, but the additional housing will be welcomed.
The other proposal received by the town was only for MDS from North Village Lofts, LLC. This company offered a purchase price of $275,000 and had an estimated development cost of $1,850,000 for 20-25 market-rate units targeting young professionals. While the young professional market still needs to be addressed in town, the Advisory Group has consistently favored senior housing. North Village Lofts has not completed a project to date although they have one underway in Worcester.
If citizens have an interest in Auburn’s Community Housing Plan, there will be a meeting at 7:00PM on Thursday in the high school presentation room. This will be a public forum and workshop, and all are welcomed.