The proposed St. Patrick’s Place in Cumberland. Architect’s rendering
CUMBERLAND – A plan for the redevelopment of the St. Patrick Church property on Broad Street got its first big approval last week with the Planning Board’s vote in favor of a master plan for 44 new affordable housing units there.
The board also approved waivers sought by applicant ONE Neighborhood Builders for the project.
The approval came at the recommendation of the Planning Department, where officials said it meets all kinds of town goals, including for more affordable housing and preserving “irreplaceable landmarks” instead of seeing them torn down.
Town Planner Glenn Modica said a 99-year deed restriction on the affordable units helps tie this to the working-class community in Valley Falls and helps bring some vitality back to the area.
One parking space per bedroom, as proposed, or 69, is seven short of the 76 that would be required under current zoning requirements of two spaces for 32 units and one each for an additional 12 units for the elderly, said Modica, but they don’t expect particularly high demand for parking here. Ten units in the rectory are for PACE Organization participants who are unlikely to own a car, he said, and the current zoning restrictions require too much parking.
Residents in the neighborhood attended the Sept. 28 Planning Board meeting to express their concerns about how the project will impact already difficult traffic in the Broad Street area.
Jennifer Hawkins, CEO of ONE Neighborhood Builders, noted that the nonprofit will be owning and managing the building as part of a long-term partnership as it expands into Cumberland for the first time, as it does with all of its properties in seeking to create affordable housing and healthy, equitable and vibrant communities.
Hawkins, who is also a member of the Smithfield Planning Board, said Mayor Jeff Mutter and the planning staff originally invited them to take a look at the property as a potential adaptive reuse project, and they’re hoping to be able to do additional development in the town.
Not all financing is in place yet for this $17 million project, said Hawkins, and master plan approval is essential for them in being competitive in the next financial rounds to get that financing.
The board unanimously approved the master plan for the project and various waivers, including on residential density, maximum lot coverage, front yard setback, and distance between buildings.