Redevelopment Authority to hear from developers for Elm Street project

First floor of Test A concept by Utile Design for Elm St. Urban Renewal Plan.

WESTFIELD- The Westfield Redevelopment Authority (WRA) has set a date to hear detailed plans from both prospective developers in the Elm Street Urban Renewal Project.

Arch Communities LLC. and Domus Inc. attend the WRA’s  Jan. 7 meeting to present in greater detail their plans for the vacant lot on Elm Street that was once the site of the J.J. Newberry’s building, which burned to the ground in 1986. 

The board members all noted that each company projects a similar cost to develop the 1.6 acre parcel of land. 

“We received two applications that had done their homework, that came in on a “per-square-foot” basis that were relatively in line with one another,” said Community Development Director Peter J. Miller.

Each proposal apparently shows a similar plan to that of the Utile Design that had previously been shown off as a proof of concept. Arch, a developer based in Needham, utilized the Utile study on the property while Domus had developed a similar project independently. The WRA has been seeking a developer to build a “mixed use” structure containing both residential and commercial units. 

Miller suggested that the WRA come up with a list of six-10 questions to ask each developer when they come before the board in January. 

Each proposal did give a different timeline for ownership of the building after it is completed. In the Arch proposal, they put that they would maintain ownership of the building for 15 years. Miller said that they put 15 years because that is the affordability period of the affordable housing apartments.

“In order to  access the incentive programs that they are looking for, they need to commit to at least 15 years of affordable housing,” said Miller, “Whereas for Domus, the financing that they typically receive tends to be a 40-year committment.”

After the ownership period would end, the developers would be able to access additional funds to do renovations that would come with additional restrictions. 

“I think we’re moving the ball,” said WRA Chair Kathleen Witalisz. 

As of Thursday’s meeting, the WRA planned to give each developer 45 minutes to make their pitch, with 30 minutes given to each for their presentation, and 15 minutes for questions and answers.

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