SHREWSBURY – The Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen recently approved a step forward in a project that could place a nearly 200-unit senior housing development near the intersection of Route 20 and South Street.
The board voted on Jan. 11 to join developer Greystar Real Estate and Property Management in jointly filing what is called a Local Initiative Program (LIP) application with the state Department of Housing and Community Development.
“This is just the first step,” said Chair John Samia.
He added that it will allow the project plans to become more detailed for further review by the town.
In addition to approving the LIP filing, the Selectmen also gave Samia permission to sign a letter of support for this project.
Project would increase affordable housing in Shrewsbury
Greystar presented the proposed project to the selectmen back in November.
The property is located at 409 South St. The development would be restricted to active adults ages 55 and older.
Of the 196 units, 147 will be market rate, with rents at $2,200 a month. The remaining 49 units would be affordable at $1,261.
The developers have estimated that it would raise the proportion of affordable housing in Shrewsbury to about 7.2%.
Every municipality in the state is required to have 10% of their housing be affordable. Shrewsbury has not met this threshold.
That means the town is susceptible to development proposals that could sidestep local zoning restrictions under affordable housing exemptions.
In December, Selectman Maurice DePalo expressed concern about signing the agreement without knowing what the benefit would be for the town.
Shrewsbury had entered into a similar development agreement with Avalon Shrewsbury.
“There were other things involved in that,” DePalo said. “It wasn’t just us saying, ‘Yes, this is a great idea. Let’s do it.”
The selectmen ultimately did not take action in December.
In January, Assistant Town Manager Kristen Las said there had been more conversations about how to make sure the selectmen will be able to negotiate and execute an agreement before Greystar applies for a comprehensive permit with the Zoning Board of Appeals.
The LIP application and letter of support, at that point, included language referring to a development agreement, with the letter noting that the town’s support would be rescinded if the agreement isn’t executed.
“We thought this was a balance to provide flexibility and accommodate the needs of the developer, but at the same time, protect our rights going forward fully expecting to work collaboratively with the developer,” Samia said.
Ultimately, the developers and selectmen agreed to move forward with the application and the letter.
This would allow the developers to stick to their timeline, those developers said.
“I have no issue with the project,” DePalo said in January. “I just want to make sure that we’re protected.”
Las said the town could begin working “in earnest” with developers on the development agreement.