Constructing affordable housing units is never easy, but it is always worth it.
The Great Cove Community in Mashpee is a perfect example. In 2001, the first feasibility study for the proposed housing development took place. Thirteen years later, the project was completed, bringing 10 affordable rental units to the Upper Cape.
Rick Presbrey, CEO of Housing Assistance Corporation, said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony last month that time should be taken to acknowledge the efforts that went into making the project a success. “First, we are celebrating the accomplishment here today, which is a big deal because these things take years, literally years to do,” he said.
By all estimates, the wait was well worth it. Nearly two dozen people attended the event – Mashpee Town Manager Joyce Mason; Chair of the Mashpee Board of Selectmen John Cahalane; Leila Botsford, executive director of the Mashpee Housing Authority; and Nancy McCafferty of the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, were among the notables – and they were impressed with the quality craftsmanship that went into the townhouse units.
Consisting of eight 2-bedroom units and two 3-bedroom units, Presbrey commented on their attractiveness. “It’s not too cramped and the inside of the units is finished exceptionally well,” he said. “I think the thing you noticed is the flooring, the colors of the wall, and the kitchen cabinets are really, really fantastically appealing… What has happened here is we have the right builder in The Valle Group that will not lower their standards for something like this.” Mashpee families will fill seven of the units and eight of the 10 will be dedicated to those who earn 30 percent of the area median income or less.
Great Cove was funded and built through a collaboration of multiple local and regional agencies including the Mashpee Housing Authority, the town of Mashpee, HAC, the Cape Cod Commission and the Massachusetts Housing Partnership.
The Yarmouth Port-based firm of Brown, Lindquist, Fenuccio & Raber Architects designed the units with The Valle Group of Falmouth, constructing them and Horsley Witten Group serving as the civil engineer and landscape architects.
Located on Breezy Way off Old Barnstable Road, the development is located a few hundred yards away from Mashpee High School, which provided an additional benefit to the town. “One of the really unique elements of this project is not only does it increase the affordable housing stock on Cape Cod, but the town was also able to improve the water quality as well by connecting the wastewater discharge of this project to the existing high school,” Brian Kuchar of Horsley Witten said.
As to how badly the project was needed, Presbrey told those in attendance that during a lottery held the week before, 112 people came out hoping to move into one of the apartments. “From the point of view of a developer, that is good,” he said. “From the point of view of a citizen of Cape Cod, it’s not good.”
Paul Ruchinskas of the Cape Cod Commission piggybacked on that idea later in the ceremony, highlighting the need for more developments like this on Cape Cod. “Massachusetts is one of the highest priced states [for homes] in the country and our wages are lower. All this century, the average wage here is 30 to 35 percent lower than the rest of the state,” he said, noting that is why every affordable unit on Cape Cod is “vitally important not only for the 10 families living here and having safe, secure housing, but it’s also important to maintain the economic and social diversity of the Cape so that our workforce can continue to live here.”