First tenants of Morgan Woods move in
The first 20 tenants have moved into the new Morgan Woods affordable housing development off South 12th Street in Edgartown, less than one year after construction started on the 60-unit complex.
Certificates of occupancy were granted for 22 units on May 25 and tenants began moving in about a week later, said Nancy Salvia, regional director of property management for The Community Builders, the general contractor and management company for Morgan Woods. The next round of tenants are expected to start moving into 20 more apartments by the end of the month, she said Monday, and the last 18 should be occupied by the end of July.
"We should be fully occupied by August," Ms. Salvia said. The 60-unit, $15.7 million complex is looking more finished now with new bushes in the front of all the apartments, and small trees lining the paved streets. Grass will be planted soon.
"It really is a stunning place," Ms. Salvia said. "We're really pleased how it's turning out."
To the doubters that the project would ever come to fruition after nine years of planning, Ms. Salvia said she hopes they will now welcome it. "We're very happy to be there," she said.
The Community Builders has hired a site manager, Jessica Burgoyne, a graduate of Martha's Vineyard Regional High School who previously worked for local law firms. She and her husband, Josh, a teacher at the high school, live on the property with their 8-month-old son.
"People know Jessie is right there; they know where to find her," Ms. Salvia said. "She is well liked." An on-site maintenance supervisor for the property also has been selected to start work soon.
Found unpacking her new office Tuesday, Ms. Burgoyne expressed her enthusiasm for Morgan Woods. "Everyone is really excited," she said. "This is a great project. I can't wait to get all the families in here."
She said the tenants are very pleased with their new homes and townspeople have been very supportive, even donating good furnishings to tenants who needed it. "It's great to see the Island come together and support the community," she said.
The tenants represent a broad range of Island residents, almost all from Edgartown, including individuals and families of all ages, Ms. Burgoyne said. "It's really going to be a big melting pot."
Alan Gowell, chairman of the Edgartown affordable housing committee that implemented the project, said the committee also is pleased with the results of its efforts. "Right now we're very happy to see the tenants are satisfied and so happy with their units," he said, "and so appreciative that they'll get housing they're able to stay in."
The housing committee has surpassed its goal that at least 70 percent of the tenants live or work in Edgartown, he said, and a majority of the rest are already Island residents. "The number of people applying to be in the initial lottery as well as all of the people who have continued to inquire about availability demonstrates the need for a development like Morgan Woods and clearly demonstrates how great the need is for affordable housing," Mr. Gowell said.
"People who have moved in are as happy as can be," Mr. Gowell said. On a recent visit in the evening, he said the new residents were sitting on their porches and meeting their neighbors, which was one of the reasons for the development's design. The 21 attractive modular buildings with one, two- and three-bedroom apartments in varying combinations are arranged in three clusters with a commons at the center of each, similar to a traditional New England village.
Mr. Gowell also gave much credit to Jerry Dineen, the construction superintendent, for getting the project done so quickly and efficiently, and transforming 14 woodland acres to 60 apartments in less than 12 months.
"It's a remarkable achievement for The Community Builders, Williams Building Company and Edgartown," he said.
Tenants of Morgan Woods were selected through a lottery drawing at the end of February when 230 names were drawn. Each person or family was given a number, which determined priority for the different "pools" based on income levels, residency status and bedrooms per unit.
However, not everyone who got a priority number in the lottery chose to move into Morgan Woods. Ms. Salvia said some prospective tenants were surprised that the rents were higher than what they thought they would be, even though they were published before the lottery.
"Some declined (the units) because they didn't want to pay the rent," she said.
The units are allocated in four income tiers according to federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines, which the project must follow because of federal funding. The tiers include six units for those with incomes less than 30 percent of the county 2006 median income of $68,300, 30 units for 31 to 60 percent of the median, nine units for 110 percent of the median and 15 units for 140 percent of the median income. The rents range from about $299 for two bedrooms for the lowest tier to about $1,893 for three bedrooms at the highest tier. The rents may fluctuate based on the area median income each year.
Morgan Woods has taken nine years to become a reality. It is the Vineyard's first significant, municipally developed affordable rental housing for low- and moderate-income residents. The affordable housing committee saw the project to completion.
The complex was named earlier this year for Fred B. (Ted) Morgan, former Edgartown selectman and school building committee chairman, who pushed the town in 1998 to purchase by eminent domain the 175-acre wooded municipal parcel between Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road and West Tisbury Road. The new development occupies 12 acres of that original parcel.