ORLEANS — The town’s investment in studying housing uses for the former Cape Cod Five operations center has led to a plan for 62 rental units at the West Road site.
Pennrose, which recently developed the Village at Nauset Green affordable housing community in Eastham, has signed a purchase and sales agreement with the bank, which relocated its central office to Hyannis last year. The developer plans to create a community of 28 one-bedroom, 26 two-bedroom, and eight three-bedroom units. Fifty-two would be reserved for those earning up to either 30 or 60 percent of area median income and 10 others for “workforce housing” for those earning up to 110 or 120 percent of AMI.
The plan calls for using the existing bank building and attaching a new three-story section while also constructing two town house buildings elsewhere on the property. People of various income levels would reside in all buildings. A community garden and a playground are included.
Funding will be sought from a variety of sources, including Community Preservation dollars from Orleans and other Cape towns as well as state and federal programs. Orleans was one of the contributors to the Eastham development.
Pennrose hopes to bring the project before the zoning board of appeals in December and apply for low-income housing tax credits in January. The company, which was scheduled to present its plans to the select board last night (Nov. 18), met with the affordable housing trust fund board Tuesday.
“The gross project cost for this development is somewhere in the range of $28 million,” trust board chair Alan McClennen said, adding that Pennrose will be asking for $2 million in Community Preservation funds. While that would exceed the total amount of such funds available this year, he noted, it should be possible to bond money for the development over 20 years. The annual amount, he said, would be less than the 10 percent of CP funds that must be spent each year on affordable housing.
When news of the bank’s plan to move its headquarters to the Mid-Cape surfaced in 2018, the town’s affordable housing committee expressed interest in the property and supported a preliminary assessment that found the existing building could be converted to housing. In January 2019, the committee voted to spend $25,000 of Community Preservation funds for a more detailed analysis by Brown Lindquist Fenuccio & Raber Architects of Yarmouth Port. That March, the bank signed a letter of intent stating it would not market the property while the study was under way.
The feasibility study, which included a site visit by the affordable housing committee and the newly created affordable housing trust board, found that 45 or 51 dwelling units could be accommodated at the West Road site at a cost of $17.1 million. That figure included development and construction costs, but not acquisition.
The town spread the word about the study, and Pennrose, which opened the $23 million, 65-unit Village at Nauset Green earlier this year, entered talks with the bank. The Eastham development tapped multiple funding sources, including $100,000 each from Orleans and Wellfleet in Community Preservation funds, as well as Eastham CP and housing trust dollars. The town of Eastham provided the site, unlike the situation in Orleans.
“What you guys have done to date checks all the boxes,” said Charlie Adams, New England regional VP for Pennrose. “You have a real vision for what the site could be. We’re here to try to execute that vision you had.”
Although the development is a “friendly” 40B, which streamlines the approval process, Adams said the company is willing to meet with the site plan review committee, the architectural review committee, and other boards to hear their comments.
McClennen thanked the affordable housing committee, which “several years ago started this process, raised the issue, and got the board (of selectmen) interested. The trust has been in the caboose. It was started after the Cape Cod Five discussion began.”