Affordable Housing, March 2022 update

The studio apartment building at 132 Northampton Road – now called East Gables – is expected to begin construction this month. As you may remember, there will be 28 small studio apartments; the site is within walking distance of downtown, shopping on University Drive, bus stops, and the Rail Trail. The tenants will have incomes ranging from 30% to 80% of the Area Median Income. The building is designed to Passive House standards for maximum energy efficiency and resident comfort. Utilities will be included in the rent. In addition, there will be a multi-purpose room, on-site laundry, and outdoor patio, and a covered bike rack.

Unfortunately, construction costs have gone up, and the developer, Valley Community Development, needs to request additional funding from both the state and the tow. The Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust on March 10 granted the project an additional $100,000; the state is to increase its amount from $400,000 to $550,000.

In the meantime, housing advocates and town staff are investigating the possibility of a couple of houses on a small road off Strong Street. It’s a very difficult, steep, site, so it’s not clear what can be done there. And we await bids on the combined project for Belchertown Road and East Street (the old school on the common there).

Elisa Campbell