Avesta Housing Proposal For Adams School Gets OK From CDC

By Carol McCracken

By a unanimous vote, the three members of the Community Development Committee, voted last night to ask its staff to proceed in negotiating the terms of a contract with Avesta Housing – the only developer to respond to the city’s Request for Proposal to redevelop the former Adams School on the Hill.

The Adams School was built in 1958 and named for a beloved teacher on the Hill – Mirada Adams. In 2006, the school was closed when a new school was opened – the East End Community School on North Street. Shortly after that an Adams School Reuse Committee was formed with Dan Haley, Jr. serving as its chairman.

Dana Totman presented an overall view of the proposed redevelopment – the Beckett Green & Marada Adams Park- to the committee and about twenty-five members of the public present at the meeting. The development will consist of ten buildings with four housing units each. A unique feature is that twenty home purchasers will be able to rent the other twenty units to a family member – it was characterized as a “cradle to grave” approach. So far, fifty off street parking spaces have been allocated for the development. That was followed by a statement by Dan Haley, Jr. stating that the Avesta Housing staff had or was in the process of complying with most of the recommended changes steming from his committee’s work.

Will Gorham, former city councilor and current president of the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Association (“MHNO”) said that the board had requested the city to reissue the RFP hoping for another proposal in addition to the one submitted by Avesta Housing. He also expressed personal concern for what he called the lack of sufficient off street parking and overall funding of the project.

Fred Brancato of Beckett Street said he was impressed by Avesta’s proposal. It was “very responsive to the recommendations of the reuse committee.” Brancato also liked the pass through and open spaces throughout the development. He also said the prospective developer had been very successful in integrating the development into the community. However, he was disappointed that there had been no competition in the process and that the winter parking available at Adams School during parking bans would be eliminated by this development. Many in the area depend on this lot for parking ban parking.

Dave Gailus, a self-employed engineer who lives on the Hill, said he was concerned that someone might end up holding an empty bag on this one. Specifically, he expressed concern that if this process is dragged out over 2 or 3 years, interest rates could be substantially higher – putting it out of the financial reach of those for whom it’s intended.

Following the meeting, Haley said he was pleased with the outcome. “It’s a good project, although they have some things left to address-like parking and finding additional sources of funding for the project.” According to Chairman Leeman, there will be other opportunities for public comment during the entire process.

(It should be noted that there is no connection between the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization, “MHNO” and the Munjoy Hill News, “MHN.”)