WELLFLEET — The three developers who have submitted affordable housing proposals for six acres at 95 Lawrence Road should be ready to be grilled on Friday by members of a committee charged with choosing the best plan to recommend to the select board.
The 95 Lawrence Road Task Force will seek some specifics from each of the three on parking, traffic circulation, the availability of storage space and laundry facilities, and the proposed design and layout — and that’s just for starters.
The task force will also look for a solid commitment from each developer to pitch in 44 percent of the cost of a major wastewater system. Two out of three mentioned support for the system in their proposals, but none committed specifically to the 44 percent the town’s request for proposals asked for.
Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), the Community Builders, and Civico are the three developers who have submitted their visions for a complex of 46 units on the property across from the Wellfleet Elementary School.
At their Sept. 1 meeting, task force members gave their initial thoughts on proposals from Civico and the Community Builders. The panel had previously reviewed POAH’s plan.
Civico drew praise for its design, which calls for 16 buildings clustered around the ballfield on the site, with pocket parks and other greenery. The mix includes 10 two-story New England-style homes housing 40 units, and six three-bedroom cottages.
While Civico is fairly young compared to the other two bidders, Kathleen Bacon said she liked the way “they think outside the box.” She is a former member of the select board.
“They talk about the ‘missing middle,’ and here we have a developer who is proposing to look at that,” Bacon said.
Civico focused on workforce housing in its $14.6-million proposal, for those who earn between 80 and 110 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). The developer envisioned the units being rented to young professionals, seniors, and lower-wage workers and families who live on the Cape year-round. They propose that all but four units be priced for those earning 80 percent or more of AMI.
Task force members noted that this was not what the request for proposals asked for. The RFP asked that bidders place a priority on creating housing for people earning 80 percent of AMI or less.
One concern voiced by task force chair Elaine McIlroy is the proximity of one of the buildings to the property line. This appears to be due to Civico’s layout, which uses a large portion of the site. The other two applicants massed their buildings more tightly, preserving a larger buffer surrounding the buildings.
Civico was the only one of the three that met the town’s height requirement for its buildings and the required 1.5 parking spaces per unit.
Members called parking a high priority. “I talked to people and they said it divides neighbors and drives people crazy if there isn’t enough parking,” said Jan Plaue. “I don’t think even 1.5 spaces is enough.”
Among the task force’s concerns was Civico’s apparent lack of storage space, either within the units or in a community building, which was not on the plans. There also appeared to be no office space for an onsite manager.
The Community Builders’ strength was its long and successful track record in building affordable projects. The group’s proposal calls for all 46 units to be rented to people earning at or below 80 percent of AMI. Based on the RFP, that feature will be scored by the committee as “highly advantageous.”
The design would blend historic with modern elements, divided into two areas clustered around the ballfield. The Schoolhouse Corner portion would include 15 apartments housed in four cottages and one larger building. The Lawrence Green section would have 31 apartments, housed in 2½-story duplexes and would feature a community building.
Task force members were not enthusiastic about the proposed building design and how tightly units were clustered, particularly in the Lawrence Green portion.
“I don’t know if it fits Wellfleet,” said Bacon. While the buildings reflected New England style, it was their size that concerned members.
Jay Horowitz agreed the scale was “pretty large,” but was likely a “result of preserving much of the property by crowding it together.”
Bacon was also unhappy with the proposed landscaping. “They want to bring in boulders and large stones,” she said. “You know that the glacier didn’t leave that there. The landscape elements are incongruous with the site.”
The plan for 1.1 parking spaces per unit, which would require a variance, drew concern as well, as did the need for a variance from the town’s height requirement.
On Friday, the public can watch Zoom presentations from POAH at 10 a.m., the Community Builders at 11:15, and Civico at 12:30 p.m. The session will also be recorded and available on YouTube.
Later this month, task force members will individually rate each project in six categories. While according to the RFP they could, theoretically, reject all the bids, they will be working to come to a consensus and choose the project developer.