Millstone Road Housing Gets $6.7 Million State Grant

by Rich Eldred

BREWSTER – It’s been a big month for affordable housing in Brewster. The biggest news might be the $6.7 million the developers of Spring Rock Village will receive from the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities on June 20.

“I went to the award in Danvers and it was super exciting,” Assistant Town Administrator Donna Kalinick said. “We’ve had a great month here in Brewster, with the Housing Hero award and Housing Choice designation and then funding in the first round. We get so many calls from people looking for housing.” Spring Rock Village will provide 45 affordable rental units.

One of the officials at the ceremony told her it was amazing that Brewster’s project received funding in the first round. All told, the state’s Affordable Housing Grant Awards program gave out $227 million in grants, tax credits and subsidies to create 1,874 rental units across Massachusetts.

“This was long in the making and continues to move forward,” Town Administrator Peter Lombardi told the select board last week. “It’s important to note most projects when applying for a round of state funding don’t get it awarded the first time through. We were cautiously optimistic and this is great news for the town and is a reflection of how strong their proposal was, especially given how towns across the commonwealth are facing similar challenges. I want to congratulate everyone involved in reaching an important milestone.”

Spring Rock is located at 0 Millstone Rd. on a 16.6-acre “L” shaped lot owned by the town that was landlocked until the town purchased a lot on Millstone Road to provide a driveway. Spring Rock Village received a comprehensive permit last July. is being developed by Preservation of Affordable Housing, Inc. (POAH) and the Housing Assistance Corporation (HAC).

The plan is for 45 rental units spread over 10 buildings along with one community building that includes a laundry. Thirty-five of the units are for families and people earning 60 percent or less of the Area Median Income. There are a total of 80 bedrooms in units ranging from one to three bedrooms each. The AMI for Barnstable County was $82,619 in 2021 so 60 percent of that is $49,571. The other 10 units are for those making 80 percent of the AMI ($66,095 based on the 2021 numbers). There will be a lottery to see who gets the units.

The housing will be clustered, and more than 70 percent of the land remaining as open space.

“This is one of the funding sources for the project,” Kalinick said. “The last time they went to the CPC (community preservation committee) they estimated $27 million for the [project] cost. It’s not unusual. They put together a host of funding sources to make it work.”

Brewster is working towards the goal of having 10 percent of the town’s housing for moderate or low income residents. Kalinick said the 45 units will bring Brewster up to 7.2 percent. She noted that the cost of the average home in town was $450,000 in 2019, but five years later it is over $700,000. That figure is beyond the means of many working people.

“We have to do something to keep the community intact and to help people to stay here. Many people have had to leave,” she said, and these departures have included town employees.

Brewster voters approved dedicating the land to affordable housing at the May 2018 special town meeting. POAH and HAC entered into an agreement with the Department of Housing and Community Development to obtain Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits which would give the project a government subsidy. Those two groups also signed a land agreement with Brewster, which owns the property, in August 2022 to develop the site.

“It’s a long term lease, a 99 year lease,” Kalinick said. “POAH and HAC will develop and manage the property and that’s important. POAH manages Kings Landing and Brewster Woods. They have funding from the CPC and surrounding CPCs. Other towns (Orleans, Chatham, Eastham and Wellfleet) have also contributed. We asked for 55 percent local preference (for Brewster residents) and 15 percent regional (Barnstable County). That’s not something you see a lot. When we did lotteries for Serenity and Brewster Woods, 80 percent of the applicants were from Barnstable County. That’s helpful to know.”

The project is in the residential low density zoning districts and meets its requirements. The 11 buildings will sit on 4.7 acres, with 79 parking spaces that could possibly be expanded. The buildings will exceed the 30-foot maximum height for a RLD zone; the tallest is 36 feet. The extra height was needed to reduce the footprint of the project. In contrast, the driveway will be 22 feet wide instead of the required 24 feet, also to reduce the paved area.

The wastewater system will handle less than 10,000 gallons a day and won’t require a groundwater discharge permit. It will comply with Title 5 regulations. Nitrogen loading from the project will be 3.8 parts per million, lower the state and Federal standards.

“The development will create a sociable neighborhood, minimize building footprints, and preserve existing woodland habitat,” the EOHLC said in a press release.

“The next step is to go through the closing process. They will have a mortgage. That will take about nine months,” Kalinick said. “We’ll get an updated schedule from them as they get into the closing process. I expect construction will start in late 2025 or early in 2026. It will take 12 to 18 months.”

Brewster has also recently added the Brewster Woods development of 30 units and the affordable units at Serenity apartments for seniors as they work towards the 10 percent target for affordable housing.

“We’ve gained about two points over the last seven years,” Kalinick concluded “Rentals are particularly needed. Only 9 percent of our units are rentals in Brewster. The state average is 34 percent. We still want to work on home ownership as well. This is a good goal. It helps us do the right thing.”