Thursday, February 25, 2010

Oak Street Affordable Housing Planned

As noted earlier in the The Forecaster, there is a plan for an affordable housing apartment building on Oak Street, behind Five Fifty Five. The project, to be built and operated by Avesta Housing has run into opposition from property owners in the neighborhood. The concern is that "affordable housing" means that only deadbeat freeloading drunks will be the ones living there. The opponents apparently want a better class of people.

But as the Forecaster points out, the owner of 555 had planned to build (presumably) luxury condos at that spot, but the project fell through. So now Avesta has come in to develop the lot.  I don't know much about Avesta, but the property they run at 77 & 85 Grant Street is a bright spot on the block.

If and when the economy picks up again, there will likely be a return of the luxury condo market, as well as rent increases throughout the City. So these projects are crucial to ensure that there is decent affordable housing in the city, instead of having people move out to the suburbs.
"The 37 efficiency units will be about 420 square feet each, and cost between $500 and $750 a month in rent. The building would be four stories.

'We're targeting this toward people who make in the $20,000 to $30,000 range,' Payne said. He said Avesta hopes the location and price will attract artists, and said there was a strong interest." TF

Some of the neighboring property owners, including residents of expensive condominiums, the owners of Five Fifty-Five and the owners of other commercial buildings on Congress Street, see the project as a lost opportunity. They say the arts district already has enough housing for low-income residents, and that it needs more people who have money to spend at restaurants and art galleries.

''When you add people who can't do anything to the economic development of the community, you take up space,'' said Penelope Carson, who owns a nearby commercial building on Congress Street in a partnership with her brother, Harold Pachios. PH