More affordable housing is on the way for Everett residents after the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) approved on Monday night 77 senior citizens units and a condominium building with six, three-bedroom apartments at the site of the former St. Therese Church on Broadway.
While proponents and opponents all agreed that the affordable housing is needed, the question of height and size of the building concerned residents in the neighborhood who spoke at the hearing.
The hearing that lasted more than 90 minutes became heated at times as Board of Appeals Chairman Joseph Desisto called for two, five-minute recesses.
The Neighbor Developers Inc. (TND) went before the ZBA earlier in the year to receive the variances on parking and height for the project. The main building on the site will be a five-story building on Broadway that will reach four-story on Gledhill Avenue in the back part of the project for senior housing.
The first floor of the building on Broadway will be occupied both by apartments and by the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center for the Neighborhood PACE program that is specifically designed for seniors to gather and interact socially and to do wellness checks to catch any potential medical problems in the earlier stages.
Under the proposal by TND, 70 percent of the 77 units will go to Everett senior citizens with half of the one bedroom units being rented for $1,000 and the other half being rented 30% of the occupants income.
Dale Palma, Director of Everett Senior Center told members of the ZBA that he supported the proposal saying, “I see this everyday at the Senior Center that there is a dire need for senior affordable housing.”
Richard Finneran, a resident of the neighborhood, was against the scope of the building, but not the idea. He also mentioned his concerns for parking in the neighborhood.
ZBA Member Michael Dantone asked the developers if the building could be lowered by a floor. The response from the developers that a downsizing of the building by a floor would result in 18-20 units less and this would make the project not economically viable.
The developers also pointed out that the present height of St. Theresa church is 55 feet and the height of the new building will be 64 feet. They said that the height of the building was necessary due to the steep slope from Broadway to the back of the lot.
On the six family condominiums that will also be constructed on the site, 70 percent of these units will also go to Everett residents.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria also spoke at meeting, saying, “This is a home run and exactly the type of development Everett needs.” It was noted by various city officials that senior citizens must either wait three to four years for an affordable apartment in Everett while still paying ever increasing rental rates.
The ZBA approved both projects on a 5-0 voted with Richard Zullo abstaining.
The proposal by homeowner Kevin Mason to take off his gable roof on his present two-family home and make the a full third floor with a flat roof was approved by the board. It was noted that the house at 31-33 Highland Ave. that was built in 1924 was not subject to the off street parking regulations since the house was built prior to 1926. The Board also heard how the several house on the stret have also been converted into three family homes and that this project was not out of scale for the neighborhood. The Board unanimously approved the project.
ZBA members also allowed the question of two billboards at 1812 Revere Beach Parkway to be continued to the March 5 meeting.