Housing Trust defends 250 State Road costs as reasonable
Eight affordable houses at 250 State Road in West Tisbury will be built for $205 per square foot, well below standard Island building costs, the executive director of the Island Housing Trust (IHT) told West Tisbury selectmen at a meeting on May 20.
Phillipe Jordi, IHT executive director, also told the board that the selection of South Mountain Company to build the project has always been open and transparent to the town. Both topics have been subject to ongoing criticism in town, most recently and publicly at the annual town meeting in April.
While the town approved an additional $170,000 for the project, discussion at the annual meeting included charges that construction costs were $400 per square foot, included upgrades that taxpayers could not afford for their own houses, and that South Mountain Company had a conflict of interest because its president serves on the IHT board.
As a result, selectmen invited Mr. Jordi to discuss critical comments charging that IHT wants more money for a project that is already high-priced. Mr. Jordi explained that the $170,000 approved at town meeting was unrelated to construction but would be used to lower the prices of two houses to increase affordability. Because of the additional funds, West Tisbury residents will now have preference to purchase six of the eight houses, he said.
Mr. Jordi told selectmen he was grateful for the opportunity to discuss the issues. "There has been a lack of information and some misinformation [about the subject]," he said.
According to the final budget on file at West Tisbury town offices, which was reviewed by The Times this week, actual construction costs will be $1.8 million for about 9,000 square feet of housing, or $205 per square foot. The budget also details $409,000 in infrastructure costs, $212,000 in design costs, and $350,000 in energy efficiency initiatives, paid for by the Cape Light Compact.
An independent contractor hired to estimate the project for comparative purposes came in higher than South Mountain, Mr. Jordi told selectmen.
South Mountain Company will build seven of the houses. Habitat for Humanity will build the eighth. The houses will range in size from 1,400 square feet for three-bedroom models to 1,200 square feet for two-bedroom models
Mr. Jordi told selectman that the successful contractor/bidder, South Mountain Company of West Tisbury, was one of only two qualified companies to bid, and that South Mountain had met the IHT's request for qualification standards used in the past to judge bidders.
Mr. Jordi said IHT is not required to follow procurement laws governing state projects, but he said that in the future, as a result of the public comment on 250 State Road, IHT will institute a request for proposal (RFP) process for projects costing more than $50,000.