Multiple Funding Sources In Play For 107 Main St.

By: Ryan Bray

Topics: Orleans news , Affordable housing , Housing Assistance Corporation

While the source of $1 million in funding needed for a proposed housing development at 107 Main St. remains up in the air, multiple options for securing the money are being actively pursued. FILE PHOTO

ORLEANS — Efforts to secure necessary funding for a proposed affordable housing development at 107 Main St. are following separate but parallel tracks.

Between an application submitted to the community preservation committee seeking $1 million for the project in the spring and an earmark seeking the same amount as part of the senate's ARPA bill, local and regional housing officials are confident that the funds will come to fruition.

"I'm not worried about it," said Alisa Magnotta, CEO of Hyannis-based Housing Assistance Corporation, which is partnering with the town's affordable housing trust board on the project planned for the site of the former Masonic Lodge. "The project isn't a risk at all. It just requires us to do our due diligence and look at every resource possible."

HAC wants to construct 20 bedrooms across 14 units on the 1.3 acre site. The units would be reserved for those who earn up to 80 percent of the area median income in Barnstable County. The existing lodge would be razed to make room for a farmhouse-style development comprising five interconnected buildings.

The nonprofit has asked the town to partner with it on the development, with $1.87 million of the project cost to be funded through the town. The affordable housing trust board has committed $875,000 of its own funding to the project, but the community preservation committee in September voted against recommending that the remaining $1 million be funded through the Community Preservation Act at special town meeting in October.

The committee's vote against supporting the 107 Main St. project has received vocal opposition, including from members of the select board. But HAC has filed a formal application with the committee seeking the money through annual town meeting in May.

The committee is charged with overseeing the town's Community Preservation Act money, which is funded annually through a 3 percent property tax surcharge. The funding can be spent in the areas of historic preservation, recreation, open space and affordable housing.

Project applications were due to the CPC by Nov. 22, and the committee will begin its review of applications at its Dec. 2 meeting. The committee is tasked with making recommendations on project applications, but the decision of whether or not to fund the projects rests with voters at town meeting.

Alan McClennen, who chairs the affordable housing trust board, said applications will first be vetted by Town Counsel Michael Ford to ensure that they are eligible for CPA money. From there, CPC members will talk with project applicants to learn more about their projects before bringing their findings to the full committee for a recommendation.

Magnotta said she hopes HAC and the town will have more success with an application that is being considered within the committee's grant cycle.

"Part of the mission of the CPC is to fund affordable housing," she said. "I would hope that they'll take a balanced approach and look at how much open space we buy in this town, and how much we spend on recreation, and make sure the percentage [that's spent] on housing is equal to that or more to meet the crisis at hand."

At the same time, State senators Julian Cyr and Susan Moran have included an amendment to the senate's $3.8 billion ARPA package that would free up $1 million for the Main Street project. Both the Senate and House versions of the bill are undergoing conference committee review.

"Each passed their own ARPA budget unanimously, but they're not quite the same," McClennen said.

McClennen expressed confidence that the $1 million earmark will make its way into the final bill. If it passes, he said the application before the CPC will be withdrawn.

The trust board and HAC also explored the possibility of using ARPA money awarded the county to fund the project, but McClennen said county commissioners have expressed interest in using the money for wastewater and other initiatives instead of housing.

"In all likelihood, there won't be money for housing in that $41 million."

Meanwhile, the project is proceeding through the local permitting process. The architectural review committee spoke favorably of the project in its preliminary review. The committee is due to give the project a formal review when final details are ironed out.

HAC and the trust board must also get approval from the site plan review committee, zoning board of appeals and the board of health, McClennen said.

Plans for 107 Main St. are unfolding as the town continues to find a way to bolster its housing stock. Orleans, like other towns on the Cape and Islands, is in short supply of year-round housing for workers and young families.

For Magnotta, the Main Street project represents an opportunity for the town to put its best foot forward to solving Orleans' housing dilemma.

"We have to have housing, and we have to have people on committees that want to expedite the process and make sure we have the right kinds of housing in the right locations."

Email Ryan Bray at ryan@capecodchronicle.com