NHA Solicits Proposals for Linden/Chambers Project

July 1, 2024
• The affordable housing units move one step closer to refurbishment.

The Needham Housing Authority issued a request for proposals last week for the first phase of redevelopment for Linden/Chambers, one of the organization’s affordable housing complexes catering to seniors and disabled tenants.

The chosen developer would oversee the demolition and reconstruction of 138-188 Linden St., composed of 18 one-story buildings containing 72, 405-square-foot studio apartments. The proposed plan is to replace those units with 128 larger one-bedrooms and eight two-bedrooms and price them at or below 80% of the area median income. The NHA also aims to house residents with incomes at or below 60% AMI.

The NHA later plans to redevelop the 80 units on Chambers Street, increasing its density to 111 units “when funding can be identified,” the RFP states.

Built between the late 1950s and early ’60s, the buildings on Linden Street have seen “limited capital improvements” in the last 60 years and are “in need of substantial reinvestment and modernization,” the RFP states.

“There are ongoing issues with moisture infiltration, energy efficiency, plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems,” it reads. “Accessibility is also a major concern as there are no ADA/MAAB accessible units at Linden Street.”

Those concerns made their way to Town Meeting in May, where Linden/Chambers residents voiced their thoughts on the project and where officials expressed the dire need for significant intervention — Needham Board of Health member Ed Cosgrove said, due to the unhealthy conditions of the residences, the board may have had to “condemn those units, one by one.”

Community members have met numerous times over the last year to discuss this project and the future of the buildings.

The deadline to submit proposals is Aug. 7, and a decision will likely be made Aug. 26. NHA Board of Commissioners Chair Reg Foster said they plan to submit a site plan review application to the Planning Board in early August.

Foster said they hope to receive multiple bids in order to have a “robustly competitive process.”

“Because this is such an important project for not only the Needham Housing Authority but also the town, we want to make sure that we take a look at all the best proposals that we can attract to this project,” Foster said.

Across seven properties, the NHA operates more than 300 units, both state-aided and federally subsidized. The current average rent at Linden/Chambers is about $350 per unit, according to the RFP. One of the NHA’s outlined goals for the project is to prioritize leasing to low-income elderly and disabled tenants.

The total estimated cost of the project is $84 million, and Town Meeting members approved $5.5 million this spring. Potential funding sources include $6 million through an NHA program loan and $1.5 million through Chapter 358.

In the approved House budget, Rep. Denise Garlick earmarked at least $3 million for the NHA, and in the Senate budget, Sen. Becca Rausch earmarked at least $1 million. A conference committee must still decide on a final budget before it can move forward.

So far, the NHA has secured $8.7 million in funding, with another $8.7 million pending.

“We’ve been working on this for years… It’s hard to do and takes everyone pitching in,” Foster said.

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