A special meeting held to allow neighbors their say about a proposed downtown senior housing complex drew about 30 people to the Sandwich Public Library on Wednesday, January 15.
“This is a collaborative effort,” said Janis B. Mamayek, an architect working with the project’s would-be developer Stratford Capital Group. “We’re very responsive to your input.”
The Stratford Group is proposing to tear down most of the existing buildings on the site of the former Henry T. Wing School and replace them with two- and three-story apartment buildings. The three-phase complex would eventually offer 128 units of affordable housing for those who are 62 and older.
The response from the crowd was mixed—ranging from fierce opposition to polite curiosity and support.
A direct abutter whose house overlooks the so-called “1927 Building,” said she has already asked her attorney to send letters of warning to the developer.
“Construction will be a nightmare for me,” said the woman, who declined to give her name.
She warned that if the lighting or the noise from the air-conditioning units were too intense, she would fight the project. The neighbor also said a proposed street that runs between her house and the proposed complex should be a greenway.
“I just want to be respected,” the woman said. “It’s going to be a dirty, filthy, huge demolition.”
“We hear you,” Ms. Mamayek responded.
Keith McDonald, Stratford’s vice president of development and acquisitions, said the company would work with all the neighbors to come up with a plan everybody agrees upon.
There were several questions from people who sounded interested in moving into the complex—such as whether there will be assigned parking (to be determined); whether pets will be allowed (yes); and where the main entrance will be (there will be several points of entry).
Another question was whether Sandwich residents would be given priority over other potential tenants.
Mr. McDonald said the developer would be following state guidelines on who gets first crack at the affordable units. Priority would be given to Barnstable County residents, as per the guidelines, he said.
“Based on my experience, most of the residents will be from Sandwich,” Mr. McDonald said.
The audience seemed especially interested in hearing the answer to a question about the “look and feel” of the complex.
The big auditorium in the 1927 building will be renovated and open for use by the community, Ms. Mamayek said. The historic building, which will be preserved, will also house lounges, a dining area and spaces for service agencies.
Phase I will be built in and around the 1927 building. It will contain 43 apartments.
The buildings’ design for outdoor areas will be connected by series of trellises, which will be composed of wood. All three buildings will feature outdoor courtyards and sitting areas. The colors will be blue and nautical, the architect said.
In answer to a question about the septic system, Mr. McDonald said the existing septic system and leach fields are designed to handle 10,000 gallons per day—enough to accommodate Phases I and II. Additional septic systems—or a connection to the future town sewer system—will be needed for Phase III.
Town Planner Ralph A. Vitacco said, in answer to a question about the funding, that Stratford proposes purchasing all the buildings on the Wing school site for $1.3 million. They will spend about $53 million in state and other funds to build the mixed-income rental development.
The proposed sale of the property to Stratford must go to a Special Town Meeting, tentatively scheduled for late March.
Assistant Town Manager Heather B. Harper told the neighbors she was expecting “a vigorous Town Meeting discussion.”
The developer has requested $2.6 million in community preservation funds to help defray the demolition costs to take down all the buildings on the property except the historic red brick 1927 building facing Route 130.
The town will retain ownership and use of the surrounding ball fields and much of the parking. The school can still be used as the starting point for parades and other events, the developer said.
Mr. Vitacco told the audience that the CPA money will demonstrate the town’s commitment to the project and help the developer qualify for state affordable housing tax credits.