Four Apartments - Adaptive Re-use of Odd Fellows Hall
Location: One Chancery Lane, Falmouth MA 02540
Applicant: Falmouth Housing Trust
Grant: $208,000 from Falmouth Affordable Housing Trust
Year/Authority: 2014, Board of Selectmen
In 2010, a group of community-minded individuals presented to the Falmouth Affordable Housing Committee, the Planning Board and the Board of Selectmen an idea for the adaptive re-use of the then vacant Odd Fellows Hall. The ad hoc group wanted to use the building for much-needed affordable apartments The goal was to provide increased choice in available housing stock for low-moderate income individuals living and working in Falmouth. The thought was adding more such housing would help to counteract the current trend of the young and talented, low-moderate income individual (often called middle class) leaving Falmouth according to the most recent census data, which showed an almost 20% decrease in this demographic.
April 2010 Town Meeting declared the lot excess town property and released it restricting its use for community housing. After a meeting to solicit input of neighbors of the building, the Town released a Request for Proposals in 2012 and selected the Falmouth Housing Trust, Inc. to develop the property. The FHT then permitted the Adaptive Re-use project through the Commonwealth’s Local Initiative Program, and received a comprehensive permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals in 2014.
Plans called for gutting the interior and renovating the exterior, while retaining the Greek Revival architecture, with new siding and energy efficient windows and doors that utilize alternative modern materials. The interior was divided into four studio open-concept apartments with contemporary design intended to attract younger people. All hazardous materials were removed and abated and all mechanical and electrical systems were replaced. The Board of Selectmen approved the use of energy-rated substitutes for existing building materials, with high insulation and fire suppression value but resembling the original materials. These materials will greatly reduce maintenance costs going forward. An important element of the project is the full solar array that powers all electrical and mechanical systems for the building. This use of green, renewable energy substantially lowers operating costs as well.
Construction began in October of 2015 and in summer 2016 four apartments were affirmatively marketed and rented for $950 per month, with utilities and one parking space each, to qualifying individuals earning up to 80% of area median income (AMI), a maximum of $46,100. FHT partnered with the Falmouth Housing Authority for the lease-up. All units are deed-restricted in perpetuity.
The Falmouth Housing Trust, Inc. was involved in the pre-development/permitting phase for three years. The delays caused increases to the project budget, which grew to $1,100,000. FHT was granted $208,000 from the Falmouth Affordable Housing Fund and received a construction loan of $300,000 that converts to a mortgage from the Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank. The balance of the project was funded through charitable, community and family foundations as well as individual donors. The estimated per unit construction cost was $275,000; because the FHT conducts its business locally many local businesses pledged in-kind support which brought down these costs.
FHT organized in 1986 as a nonprofit corporation with a mission to support the Town of Falmouth’s housing goals, specifically by producing, promoting and preserving affordable units for the low-moderate income constituency of Falmouth. Since then it has developed a number of affordable properties in Falmouth, including the Gerald Flynn House, homes on East Ridge Road, St. Marks Road and, in collaboration with the Falmouth Housing Authority, homes on Esker Place. It also monitors two market rate 40B projects: Mill Farm Way and the Villages at Old Main, adding an additional seven affordable units to its portfolio.