Harwich Asked To Contribute To Orleans Housing Development

By: William F. Galvin

Topics: Housing and homelessness , Community Preservation Act

A rendering of the proposed 62-unit housing development in the former Cape Cod Five Operations Center in Orleans. COURTESY ILLUSTRATION

HARWICH – The town is being asked to contribute $100,000 toward the cost of a 62-unit mixed-income housing project in Orleans. Developer Pennrose, LLC filed a request with the community preservation committee to tap community housing funds.

Pennrose is seeking support for its Orleans Cape Cod Five project, which proposes to reuse the former bank headquarters and operations center at 19 West Rd. and 10 Skaket Corners.

The proposal includes redeveloping the 38,000-square-foot former bank headquarters and a 30,800-square -foot addition into 52 units. Two townhouses with 10 additional units would be constructed on the opposite side of the access road. Fifty-two units will be affordable and the additional 10 units will be workforce housing. All will be rentals.

There are “a lot of eyes” on the application, CPC Chair David Nixon said at the group's Nov. 2 meeting. The committee voted to send the request to town counsel to determine if it is eligible for Community Preservation Act funding from Harwich. The proposal is scheduled to be discussed at the committee's Nov. 18 session.

The development’s 62 family rental units will be affordable to households at a variety of income levels, including up to 30 percent, 60 percent, 100 percent and 120 percent of the area median income. The units would represent an important step in Orleans’ effort to reach the state’s 10 percent subsidized housing target, the CPC according to the application.

“As we understand it, Orleans is approximately 30 units short of reaching its long-standing goal of having 10 percent affordable housing,” a letter from the Orleans Planning Board to the board of appeals reads. “When the Pennrose project is completed, the town will have achieved its goal. This is important in that it will allow the town in the future to be selective in its response to future comprehensive permit applications.” The appeals board approved a comprehensive permit for the project in April.

Pennrose is requesting funds for he project from a number of Outer Cape communities. Progress toward regional housing creation and affordability  goals benefits all communities in the area, according to the application.

“Pennrose is honored to have received funding from Orleans, Eastham and Provincetown CPCs to date and await decisions from several other Outer Cape towns,” it reads.

The proposal is compatible with several sections of the Harwich 2011 local comprehensive plan, the 2016 housing production plan, and the 2017 open space and recreation plan.

The property is located within walking distance to a grocery store, pharmacy, bus stop, bank, and other amenities, according to the application. The development would embody the need for “affordability, location, and a variety of housing types and costs” as well as “developments that re-use existing housing stock rather than vacant land located in established villages.”

The project would respond directly to Harwich’s housing production plan by providing affordable housing in a county experiencing  “slower housing growth, substantial seasonal pressures, rental occupancy, a predominance of single family homes, rising housing costs, and lower housing density,” the convergence of which continue to widen the affordability gap in the county, the company asserted.

“Harwich’s local comprehensive plan and housing production plan highlight how the need for affordable housing is felt within Harwich, neighboring Cape communities, and the county. Cape communities recognize that a regional approach is needed to tackle Cape Cod’s ongoing housing and economic challenges,”  the application reads.

The 62-unit development is projected to cost $29,060,000. The proposed starting date for construction is next September with a completion date of October 2023.