Posted by: rmeketon | August 18, 2011

Revere Community Committee Meeting Minutes – 5/24/11

Revere Community Committee

Meeting Minutes

Wednesday, May 24, 2011

  • Welcome and Introductions:  Chair Danielle Farinato
    • In attendance: Ann Houston, Emily Loomis, Cat Dodson Goodrich, Orlando Jaquez, Danielle Farinato, Techrosette Leng, Richie Leng, Ira Novoselsky, Antonieta Gimeno, Laurie Holmes, Kitty Bowman
  • Defining the Revere Community Committee: The question was raised, who is this group and what decision making power does it have?  The group has decision making power through its elected representatives to the CND board, Orlando Jaquez and Techrosette Leng.  Its job is to inform those board members of the needs and priorities of the Revere community, and trust their representatives to act in the best interest of the neighborhood.  The Committee guides CRND’s work in Revere, providing an avenue for resident input. 
    • Levels of participation – the committee should be open to those who would like to participate, but we need a commitment from members that they will attend regularly so that the conversation can be coherent and progress can be made.  Members agreed, and committed to attend as many meetings as possible. 
    • Meetings:  location, time, other issues?  Members agreed that we should be meeting more frequently, given the importance and volume of issues to be discussed.  The third Wednesday of each month at 6:15 is a good time.
    • Who else should be invited?  Ideas included: Representatives from the business community; Contacts from the Moroccan community (Orlando and Laurie); Religious leaders; PTO members (Carol); Revere PD
  • Ann will draft a one pager describing the committee, and the scope and reason for its work, and will send it to the committee so they can use it as a recruitment tool.  Outreach should be done both face-to-face and through email, and multiple languages should be used: Khmer, Spanish, and Arabic as well as English.
  • How big should the committee be?  The consensus was that as RND’s work grows in Revere, so should the committee grow and represent the diversity of the community.  Work around issues that emerge will be done in smaller subcommittees and/or task forces.
  • 525 Beach Street Housing:  Emily Loomis, CND Director of Real Estate, presented our real estate development strategy and described the proposed Beach Street development.  We seek to build vibrant neighborhoods accessible to people with a mix of incomes.  To that end, we build housing that is affordable in perpetuity, and make a long-term commitment to working in a community, building connections between neighbors and offering opportunities for people to build household assets.  In Revere, we’ve begun with 14-16 Nahant, a property we bought out of foreclosure and rehabbed to a high neighborhood standard.  Where it was possible, we maintained tenancies of that property.  We are building 7 units of elderly housing in the fire station, and are proposing a larger, multi-family property at 525 Beach Street, informed by the Gateway Cities plan and conversations had with this committee, city officials, and other residents. 
    • Presentation and discussion: (Questions are in italics) 525 Beach Street is an empty warehouse that once housed an auto-body workshop.  We are proposing to build a three and four story building that has 30 apartments. 
    • Where are we in the process?  What’s the big picture and the likelihood that this will happen? The site is under agreement for CND and we are currently doing some testing on site to determine how much environmental remediation will be called for.   The results will inform our decision to buy the property or not.  More on this later.
    • The preliminary designs show our architect’s commitment to design that encourages community connections, and the three prominent street-facing areas of the façade mimic the triple-deckers that characterize the rest of the housing in the neighborhood – it will fit in.  The proposed property is actually smaller than the existing building, though both are larger than the surrounding properties.  The fourth story is set back from the street, so that it is not fully visible.  This helps the property fit in.  There are balconies that encourage connection between neighbors and eyes on the street.
    • There are 5 one-bedroom apartments, 20 two-bedrooms, and 5 three-bedrooms.  In our other developments, we find that this mix of apartments leads to multi-generational tenancies – one and two bedrooms are often rented by retirees or young singles, and the two and three bedrooms are often occupied by families of all types.  All are designed to universal visitability standards, meaning that they are wheelchair accessible, though several are specially designated for people with physical disabilities.  There is currently space for a green courtyard that the building is arranged around in an L shape, as well as a community room for events and classes, or even an after school program.  They will be accessible to residents earning at or below 60% of the Area Median Income, which is about $40,000 for a family of 3. 
    • We will need to apply for a zoning variance for parking, as there are 36 spaces for 30 apartments.  In our Chelsea developments, we’ve found this to be more than enough: only about .7 spaces are used per apartment.  Revere is even more T accessible.  The committee believed that neighborhoods need to be able to accommodate higher density, so they were comfortable with the proposed parking.  One person observed, “This will be a signature piece for the neighborhood.”
    • Will RND pay property taxes on this development?  YES.  Even though CND is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, the properties are owned by an LLC, which pay real estate taxes.
    • When will it be built?  Time for a reality check: there is ever decreasing funding for affordable housing development.  We will need to go through at least three funding rounds (held twice a year) to get money from the state for this.  So, it will take a year and a half to get funding, plus a year of construction: we are at least 2.5 years away from seeing this development leased up.  We will be meeting with our representatives to advocate for funding.  Ira pointed out that Revere is not meeting its 40B required percentage of affordable housing, since it’s at about 9.6% of the housing stock.  CND’s existing 13 units in Revere are affordable and should be included in that count.
    • Committee members were charged with taking the plans, thinking them over, and coming back to discuss any questions or concerns at the next meeting.  It was emphasized that there should be conversations with local officials and then with area residents (especially Beach Street neighbors) to get feedback on the designs, probably in late August.
  • Parks: This conversation was postponed until the next meeting.
    • Revere Adopt-a-Park
    • KaBoom Park discussion
  • Walden Fire Station Ground Breaking + 14-16 Nahant Ribbon Cutting:  What do we want to achieve? 
    • This is a chance to introduce RND to the city!  We could invite prospective members of the community committee to come learn about our work, as well as Beach Street neighbors and Gateway plan participants.  We can demonstrate that we are here to help keep this neighborhood great – to preserve affordability and connect neighbors to this important work.  This is an opportunity to reach out to local officials, build community relationships, and build relationships to bring more resources to this work!
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