Pennrose Backs Out Of Prence Project

by Ryan Bray
Pennrose last week withdrew itself from consideration for the development of the Governor Prence Inn property on Route 6A.  FILE PHOTO Pennrose last week withdrew itself from consideration for the development of the Governor Prence Inn property on Route 6A. FILE PHOTO

ORLEANS – One of the two bidders in consideration for redeveloping the Governor Prence Inn has bowed out of the process.

Town Manager Kim Newman said in an email Monday that Charlie Adams, regional vice president for Pennrose, submitted a letter June 7 withdrawing the company’s proposal.

Newman said an award letter was being drafted for Preservation of Affordable Housing, Housing Assistance Corporation and Habitat for Humanity Cape Cod, which together submitted a joint application to develop the 5.5-acre Prence property on Route 6A. The letter was to be brought to the select board for discussion June 12, after The Chronicle’s deadline.

The town purchased the Prence property in 2021 for $2.9 million, including $450,000 from the town’s affordable housing trust fund. In September, the town put out a request seeking proposals from developers with the goal of developing the property into affordable and workforce housing.

In his letter to Newman, Adams said that Pennrose prioritized the Governor Prence project for funding when it submitted its bid for the project in November. But he said the company “can no longer commit to that based on our current pipeline.”

“Therefore we do not think it would be appropriate to move forward — this project is of critical importance to the town of Orleans and you need a developer who can move it forward now,” he wrote.

Among the other projects Pennrose has submitted bids for are two in Chatham and one in Harwich (see separate stories).

Pennrose earlier this year also began construction on a 62-unit affordable housing project at the site of the former Cape Cod Five headquarters on West Road.

“We appreciate your partnership with us on Cape Cod 5 and look forward to continuing to move that forward and deliver the quality affordable housing we committed to and designed with the town,” Adams said in the letter.

A six-member committee tasked with reviewing the two proposals for the Prence property favored the Pennrose project. But two consultants hired to assist the committee in making its recommendation to the town voiced their support for the other proposal from POAH, HAC and Habitat. Joy Cuming, the committee’s architectural consultant, said that the latter proposal offered more diverse housing options, both in terms of income and design, than the one put forth by Pennrose.

Speaking to the select board June 5, John Sargent, who chaired the Governor Prence planning committee, also gave his support to the POAH/HAC/Habitat proposal. He said the committee placed a high priority on seeing a project that is both attractive in design and attainable for members of the local workforce.

“I’ve looked at the two different proposals, and you can’t even compare them,” he said.

The letter from Adams came two days after concerns were raised to the select board about the alleged efforts of Alan McClennen, a member of the RFP committee and chair of the town’s affordable housing trust fund board, to help Pennrose secure the Prence project over the joint applicants. Reached by phone Monday night, Adams said that discussion had no bearing on Pennrose’s decision to withdraw.

“I think it’s great that the town has a great proposal with POAH, HAC and Habitat for Humanity, and they’re going to get some really good, quality affordable housing,” he said.

Adams said Pennrose would welcome the opportunity to work with the town again in the future.

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