SCC’s much anticipated Union Square affordable housing property at 181 Washington Street is nearing completion.
Project Manager Yara Vergucht informs us, “We are in the final days of construction and shortly will have the certificate of occupancy.” She says that “everyone is excited to move in” to these one-, two- and three-bedroom units and anticipates that everyone will be in their new homes by the holidays.
The 35-unit, four-story property features eight apartments that are being set aside for families earning at or below 30% of area median income. Three will be for families with physical disabilities or impairments. And two are being made available to families who are currently homeless. With an eye to sustainability, all of the units have been constructed to meet LEED for Homes Mid-rise Certification and ENERGY STAR Multi-Family High Rise Certification.
Seventy percent (70%) of the units have a set-aside preference for households either living or working currently in Somerville. This is key to ensuring that current residents are not displaced by Somerville’s rapid transformation – an important component of SCC’s work.
After purchasing the building, SCC embarked upon a lengthy community process to ensure that the finished project would best meet the needs of the community. Neighborhood residents and other community members were invited to give input into the project. “We got their input both architecturally and urbanistically,” explains Vergucht. Honoring the neighborhood’s concerns, the building was constructed as a four-floor structure instead of the original five.
The community was also engaged about issues such as density, traffic and parking. The project, of course, went through the City of Somerville Planning Board approval process.
The new construction not only beautifies the neighborhood, bringing an empty building back to life. It also provides new retail space and a mixed-income complex – the result of a partnership with a for-profit developer.
“We created new mixed-use construction with new retail space and affordable housing that is close to transportation,” adds Verguchtt. “It is important to maintain affordable housing in an area like Union Square that is highly developed.”