By SCOTT JACKSON
A non-profit agency’s request to build a three-story building with 18 studio apartments on Winter Street in Quincy Point received the greenlight from the city’s Planning Board on Wednesday.
NeighborWorks Housing Solutions, which is based out of Quincy, proposed constructing the new building at 54-56 Winter St. The parcels, which include 20,000 square feet of land in a Business B zoning district, are now home to four multi-family homes that include a total of nine apartments and 20 bedrooms, according to Robert Corley, the executive director of NeighborWorks.
The organization currently owns those four houses and rents them to low-income residents. The homes require renovation, Corley said, and it makes more sense to construct the new building than it would to overhaul the existing structures.
“They need renovation. To renovate them in any significant way – with the type of structure they are and the layout they are in – doesn’t make a lot of sense,” he said.
“We are asking for permission to raze those properties and develop a smaller, more efficient – from a management perspective, but also from an energy consumption perspective – property to replace these units.”
The new building would continue to house low-income residents from Quincy and other communities. NeighborWorks will partner with Father Bill’s and MainSpring to provide counselling and other services, including life skills training, to the building’s residents.
NeighborWorks had initially proposed building a 20-car parking lot next to the new building. Corley however, said residents of the new building were unlikely to own vehicles and Gregory Galvin, the Planning Board’s vice chairman, suggested the number of parking spaces could be reduced to 18 with additional green space added.
“I’m not a big fan of asphalt,” Galvin said. “I understand you don’t want to have too few parking spaces, but if you are never going to use 20 parking spaces, landscaping is a much better use.”
The board, in approving the proposal, did grant NeighborWorks permission to reduce the size of the parking lot to 18 spaces.
Ward 2 Councillor Brad Croall, the neighborhood’s ward councillor, spoke in favor of the proposal. He said the city needs more affordable housing.
“When we think about diversity in housing stock in the city, and this is just my own opinion, I think we need to do better with providing affordable…opportunities for people to live,” Croall said. “I really think that’s an area the city needs to improve and here is an opportunity.”
Croall said NeighborWorks has proven track record in the area; the organization was responsible for Kendrigan Place and Winter Gardens, both of which are on Winter Street, and The Watson, which is located nearby on East Howard Street.
“I know NeighborWorks to be nothing but top-shelf and their portfolio up and down Winter Street and long East Howard Street speaks to that. They put their money into their projects. They are serving a constituency that I think the city needs to focus on more than it is,” Croall said.
“I think it is a good project, they are going to improve the neighborhood and socially I think it is the right thing to do.”