Info sessions to share scope of $15.6M housing proposal in Erving

Rural Development Inc.’s design for Erving’s senior housing on Care Drive.

Rural Development Inc.’s design for Erving’s senior housing on Care Drive. CONTRIBUTED IMAGE/ AUSTIN DESIGN COOPERATIVE


For the Athol Daily News

Published: 03-24-2024 5:00 PM

ERVING — Ahead of this year’s Annual Town Meeting, two information sessions will be held to share details on an estimated $15.6 million housing proposal from Rural Development Inc. (RDI).

The presentations will be held at the Senior & Community Center on Thursday, April 11, at 1 p.m. and Tuesday, April 30, at 6:30 p.m. Attendees will have the chance to learn about and ask questions regarding RDI’s proposal to build three energy-efficient buildings on 6 acres of land on Care Drive, north of the library and the Senior & Community Center.

Erving’s Senior Housing Committee and RDI, a nonprofit created by the Franklin County Regional Housing & Redevelopment Authority, hope to complete the housing project by 2028. RDI’s proposal involves constructing 26 units of housing that includes age-restricted senior housing for those ages 62 and up, while also providing multi-generational workforce housing in the two other buildings.

“My goal with the presentation is to not only give people some background and some information about the scale of project, costs and things that they have to be involved in and whatnot, but also just to create enthusiasm and some excitement,” Town Administrator, Bryan Smith said during a recent Senior Housing Committee meeting. “More than anything else I want people to be excited about it.”

RDI’s proposal states there would be eight multi-generational townhouse units, including a combination of two and three-bedroom units with in-unit washers and dryers, and on-site parking. There would be five, two-bedroom units available, in addition to one fully accessible two-bedroom unit. Two, three-bedroom units would also be available. Square footage would range from roughly 785 square feet to around 1,215 square feet.

Across from the townhouses would be 18 available one-bedroom senior apartments with “aging-in-place” designs. The approximate area of these apartments would be 600 square feet and would include a bathroom, living room, bedroom, dining area and kitchen. Screened-in porches, a wide interior “Main Street” social corridor with natural lighting and a lounge area with a kitchenette will also be available.

To be approved for senior housing, the head of household must be 62 years old or older. The combined household income must be at or below 60% of Franklin County area median income, according to RDI’s proposal. To be approved for multi-generational housing, the combined household income must be at or below 60% area median income based on household size.

RDI’s Housing Development Director Alyssa Larose said the estimated $15.6 million for the housing development would be paid through a variety of sources. The town of Erving would be responsible for roughly $448,188, which could be paid for using state grants or town sources.

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Town officials have proposed using a remaining appropriation of approximately $149,000 that was left over after working on upgrading the sewer infrastructure from Northfield Road to Care Drive to prepare for the future housing development. However, at this time, the exact funding for the overall project has not been finalized.

“This is all very preliminary and will change as we dig into the design of the development,” Larose said. “We can’t get to that point until we have site control (a development agreement with the town), which we can’t execute until after the Town Meeting vote.”

The Senior Housing Committee and RDI have created a timeline for the proposed next steps, which will include a vote on land conveyance and road layout during Annual Town Meeting on May 8.

Later down the line is when the town and RDI can execute a development agreement that would involve a grant application for town infrastructure design and engineering. A comprehensive permit would then need to be obtained by the Zoning Board of Appeals. Grants can then be sought for housing and public infrastructure construction. Sometime between November 2025 and February 2026 is when RDI could submit pre-applications and full applications to the state for a Community One Stop for Growth grant, which could then be awarded in June 2026.

Public road and infrastructure construction could be done in the summer and fall of 2026, and housing construction designs would be completed. After that, housing construction can begin and a housing lottery would be held to select initial tenants. Erving will seek local preference for 70% of the eligible apartments. Preference will go to those who are either a current town resident, a municipal or local business employee, or a household with children attending local schools. Leases can be secured starting in the spring of 2028.

The 6 acres of land that would be the site of the proposed housing complex do not currently generate any tax revenue, according to RDI and the Senior Housing Committee. Building senior housing and multi-generational townhouses would change that.

“The project will invest millions of dollars into the site, increasing its value, and produce annual revenue through a lease payment,” RDI and the Senior Housing Committee explained in a PowerPoint presentation on Wednesday. “Residents of Care Drive will support the town through tax revenue (from rent, vehicle excise, sales tax, etc.) and through participation in the Senior & Community Center, library and other town programs.”