HARWICH — Royal Apartments, LLC is proposing to convert the former Royal of Harwich Village assisted living facility at the corner of Bank and Parallel streets into 26 apartments.
The conversion from the former assisted living facility to multifamily use proposes no exterior changes to the building and minimal reconfiguration to the interior of the existing structure. In plans filed with the planning board, the apartments are proposed to be studio, one- and two-bedroom units with a total of 33 bedrooms.
The property was purchased in September by Royal Apartments LLC, which lists as trustee Matthew Newman, a part-time Harwich resident. He told The Chronicle at the time his goal was to create market-rate housing at the site.
The building permit request for the project was denied on Dec. 10 by Building Commissioner Raymond Chesley, who stated the proposed new construction does not meet use requirements for the zoning district nor does it meet area requirements. The Multifamily Residential Low Density District requires 10 contiguous acres of lot area and sets a maximum of eight bedrooms per acre. The Royal property is 82,433 square feet, just under two acres, and the density sought is 18 bedrooms per acre. The property is also located in the Harwich Center Overlay District and the Harwich Center Historic District. It will require a variance from the zoning board of appeals.
In the narrative accompanying the application to the planning board, where a special permit and site plan approval will be necessary for the project, the applicant said the proposed use is similar to the one that has existed there since the mid-1980s when a 1,118 square foot addition was built and the building was used as an assisted living facility.
The narrative points out the original 15,239-square-foot structure, built circa 1900, was long used as an inn and lodging house and has been used as a nursing facility. The area of Harwich developed over time in conjunction with a relatively intense residential use, the application reads, and thus the use of the property to house unrelated individuals or households is not new.
“As such, the neighborhood, and in particular Harwich Center, is unlikely to be adversely affected by replacing nursing home/assisted living use with multifamily apartment use, because that use is closely related in terms of how the site will be accessed, traversed, and used and the manner in which it relates to the surrounding area,” the narrative reads.
The document points out Harwich Center developed in a manner similar to the typical Cape Cod village with a tight cluster of small parcels, making it very difficult to find a parcel to meet the MR-L District 10-acre provision.
“As such, although it benefits from having multi-family use allowable by virtue of being in the MR-L District, the manner in which the town center developed in the past makes meeting the 10-acre lot size and eight bedroom per acre requirements impossible to achieve in the town center overlay district,” the narrative contends.
Noting the housing shortage in Harwich and in Barnstable County and a median single-family house priced well outside the range of many year-round residents, the application points out the town’s housing production plan recommends redevelopment of non-residential properties into housing by infilling in existing neighborhoods, similar to the Royal proposal.
“In this regard, the historic Harwich Center area is an ideal location for the more affordable, smaller, and denser type of apartment housing the Royal Apartments proposes,” the narrative reads. “In this case, the applicant is proposing a development which will support Harwich’s planned zoning for the town center, as well as reducing the area housing shortage while improving the vitality of the neighborhood, by providing 26 attractive studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments.”
The planning board hearing on the special permit and site plan application is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 6:30 p.m.