A proposal to build a 128-unit senior housing development at the former Henry T. Wing School was endorsed by a review committee in a report presented to the board of selectmen on Thursday, November 7.
The selectmen did not vote on the recommendation, but were receptive to accepting the proposal of the Stratford Capital Group (SCG), the same company that developed senior housing at the former Kempton J. Coady School in Bourne.
The eight-member review committee found that after several weeks of meetings and research it believes the Stratford Group’s proposal is the better of two bids the town received for the property.
“We are putting forward the SCG proposal because it is the most responsive and responsible,” Planning Director Ralph A. Vitacco told the selectmen at the meeting. “It really meets the objectives of the selectmen and the town.”
The Stratford Capital Group is proposing to purchase the building for $1.3 million and build a $53 million mixed-income development for people over age 62.
“The review team recognizes that the SCG proposal represents a significant change to the long established Water Street neighborhood,” the review committee’s report to the selectmen said.
However, the review committee found, the developer will retain the historic facade of the 1927 building and plans to work with the town and the neighborhood in designing the other structures.
“In addition, the plan calls for 128 badly needed, age-restricted affordable units,” the review committee wrote.
The review committee also found that the Stratford Group’s finances are in good shape, but recognized that the proposal calls for a “substantial contribution” of Community Preservation Act funds.
The proposal stipulates that the town pay $2.6 million in community preservation funds. That commitment from the town will help the developer qualify for state affordable housing tax credits and pay for demolition costs, according to the bid proposal.
The senior housing development would be built in three phases, according to the bid.
For each of those phases, the developer would have to seek tax credits through the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). The tax credits, allocated to the state by the US Internal Revenue Service, reduce the tax burden on designated properties, so developers can offer lower, more affordable rates, according to state documents.
The review committee gave the Stratford Group proposal an overall score of 2.6 out of a possible 3.
The other bid came from the Cape Cod Collaborative, an educational group that offers services to special-needs students from 19 school districts on the Cape.
The collaborative is currently leasing part of the Wing school for office use and classes. It is seeking to extend its $50,000-per-year lease for another five years.
The review committee gave the collaborative’s proposal an overall score of 1.4 by the review committee.
Besides the Coady School, the Stratford Capital Group purchased and transformed the former John Simpkins School on South Yarmouth’s Main Street into senior housing.
According to the Stratford Group’s proposal, all the Wing School structures—except the red brick 1927 building facing Route 130—would be demolished and replaced with two- and three-story buildings containing about 40 units each.
Common areas would include dining rooms, game rooms, meeting rooms and quiet spaces, according to the bid.
Mr. Vitacco has said that if the Stratford Group’s proposal is chosen, the work would not commence until at least 2022. He also said there is a possibility that the collaborative could stay in the building in the meantime.
Most of the units would be for low-to-moderate income seniors and about 20 units would be rented at market rates.