Two large affordable housing projects proposed in Wellfleet and Provincetown have attracted the interest of several off-Cape developers.
The Provincetown-based developer Community Housing Resource will not submit proposals for either one, CHR President Ted Malone confirmed on June 28. Malone said he wasn’t surprised at the interest the projects have generated. “They got the word out and they’re large enough in scale to attract the bigger developers,” he said.
The list of potential builders lining up to take on Wellfleet’s 95 Lawrence Road project includes large national companies like Philadelphia-based Pennrose, which built the Village at Nauset Green in Eastham, to smaller operations like Hopedale-based Civico Development, which would be making its first foray over the Cape Cod Canal.
One local organization, the nonprofit Community Development Partnership (CDP) will be a partner on a proposal by Preservation of Affordable Housing, known as POAH, a Boston-based nonprofit builder.
Provincetown’s VFW site has not drawn as many inquiries yet, as the town advertised its call for proposals for the site about two months after Wellfleet issued its call. Town Manager Alex Morse expects interest to pick up before the bid deadline. The town held the site meeting last Thursday.
“We were very encouraged by the turnout,” wrote Morse in an email, “and we’ve had more inquiries since the site visit.” Pennrose and the Community Builders both plan to submit proposals, while POAH is still deciding.
Wellfleet is looking for a developer to build and manage 46 affordable rental units at 95 Lawrence Road. Community support has been strong, with town meeting voters unanimously approving the use of six town-owned acres for affordable housing in 2019. A water line is being installed with grant and town funds. The developer and the town will share the cost of a decentralized sewer system.
The project will be the largest affordable housing development Wellfleet has seen to date.
Provincetown wants to maximize use of the 1.3-acre town-owned VFW site at 3 Jerome Smith Road, which it will convey to the developer who submits the winning proposal for no fewer than 44 rental units and as many as 72. Those who submit proposals are also invited to include a plan for use of an adjacent vacant property currently on the market.
Proposals will be opened on July 29 in Provincetown and on Aug. 2 in Wellfleet.
While the projects might be viewed as competing for the same pool of developers, Jay Coburn, president and CEO of the CDP in Eastham, said that’s not necessarily the case. “If the same entity wins Wellfleet and Provincetown, that can be really helpful,” he said. That way, staffing for long-term maintenance and management could be shared between the two complexes, he said.
Four major developers will likely be among those who submit proposals.
The Community Builders
The Community Builders, a large, national nonprofit headquartered in Boston, is committed to submitting proposals for both Wellfleet and Provincetown. The company built the 50-unit Province Landing on town-owned land on Shank Painter Road in Provincetown in 2012, and it continues to manage the complex. All units in the $14.5-million project, housed in six two-story Cape-style buildings, are rented to tenants who earn less than the area median income (AMI). Most are rented to tenants making less than 60 percent of AMI. The organization builds and manages its developments. “We’re in it for the long haul,” said Senior Development Manager Lindsey Gael.
Preservation of Affordable Housing, the Boston-based nonprofit known as POAH, confirmed a proposal is in the works for Lawrence Road.
“POAH is looking forward to partnering with the CDP in submitting a proposal to address the housing needs in Wellfleet,” said Aaron Gornstein, POAH’s president and CEO, in an email.
“We hope to leverage our experience in developing affordable housing across Cape Cod, combined with CDP’s deep knowledge of the Lower Cape and its unique needs and concerns.” The CDP has experience managing properties constructed by others, and another project could help produce some economies of scale for the Eastham nonprofit.
Gornstein said his organization has not yet decided whether it will respond to Provincetown’s RFP.
Pennrose, a large national for-profit development group that also manages what it builds, is “very interested” in the projects in both Wellfleet and Provincetown, according to Regional Vice President Charlie Adams.
The company recently completed and now manages the Village at Nauset Green in Eastham, where most of the 65 units are rented by tenants who earn less than 60 percent of AMI. Pennrose recently purchased the Cape Cod 5 bank building in Orleans and has permits for a similar 62-unit affordable project.
Commonwealth Community Developers
James Perrine, president of the Cambridge-based Commonwealth Community Developers, said he plans to submit a proposal for Lawrence Road. His company was selected for Yarmouth Gardens, a 40-unit affordable rental project that is currently at 40 percent of build-out.
Perrine said he doesn’t plan to submit a proposal for Provincetown, even though that project “would be a nice size for us,” because he has been focused on Wellfleet instead.
Others Builders and Challenges
Taylor Bearden, who works on site acquisition for Civico Development, said the Hopedale-based company will most likely submit a proposal for Wellfleet’s Lawrence Road.
“It’s a really great site,” Bearden said. “We would be new to the Cape, but the architect we’re working with isn’t.” A top priority, Bearden said, is “partnering with people who know the community.”
Civico will not submit a proposal for Provincetown. “We’re not going to respond to two at once,” Bearden said. “It would be a challenge to go in and say, ‘We’re committed to you.’ ”
According to Wellfleet Assistant Town Administrator Rebecca Slick, the following companies have also requested project-related material for Lawrence Road: B’nai B’rith Housing, a Boston-based nonprofit that has built some large affordable rental projects for older adults; Property Markets Group, a large national company; and Dakota Partners, a Waltham-based company with considerable experience in affordable housing development.
Developers are aware that affordable housing projects in Wellfleet have frequently been tied up in appeals brought by abutters. “From our position, it’s very daunting to go into a community stacked against the type of project we are proposing,” said Civico’s Bearden. “There is no evidence they don’t need the housing, but there’s an element that doesn’t want it.”
Both Bearden and Perrine said their companies work hard to satisfy the concerns of abutters during project permitting.
“We try to accommodate them as much as possible, but with affordable housing, it’s a very tight budget,” Perrine said.