Work is underway to establish a 100-unit affordable housing, mixed-use complex in Oak Bluffs.
During the All-Island School Committee meeting on Thursday, representatives of the Green Villa affordable housing project tried to spread awareness for the project.
According to the presenters, the project is aiming to supply affordable, year-round workforce housing. The project is planned to consist of 100 for-sale units on an eight-acre site on property made up of 71 and 77 Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road in Oak Bluffs.
The plan is also to have four retail stores in the complex, to provide closer services, like a grocery store or a pharmacy. The development would be adjacent to Southern Tier, another affordable housing complex in the works by Island Housing Trust and Affirmative Investments.
Atwood Co. and Millers Professionals are developing the project. Atwood Co. is also developing more than 60 units of housing in Edgartown, called Edgartown Gardens.
“The increase in home prices on the Vineyard has become disconnected with the Islanders’ income, literally making it impossible to be securing housing,” said Michele Casavant, the principal broker at Vineyard Village Realty and an on-Island attorney, adding that half of the housing units on the Vineyard are used by visitors.
Casavant said Green Villa can help remedy a part of the housing crisis by providing affordable, for-sale units. “The philosophy is if you want to attract and retain good teachers and good employees on-Island, people want to have home ownership,” she said. “They don’t want to be transient and just renting.”
Permitting is expected to begin on Nov. 17, with a completion goal next October, according to Cassavant.
“We’re hoping to begin construction in December of 2024 and have residents occupying in 2025,” she said.
A point Casavant underscored was this development was proceeding without any monetary subsidies, like Community Preservation Committee funding or tax credits.
William Cumming, a real estate investor and lender, who is also a graduate of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, expanded on the project. All units are planned to be deed-restricted to be affordable based on 80 percent (or less) to 150 percent of Dukes County’s area median income. For a one-person household, this would be a range of $70,150 to $136,800 in 2023, according to the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority. Seventy-five units will be for households in the 150 percent income bracket, and 25 units will be for households in the 80 percent or lower range. If a homeowner wants to sell a unit, the buyer would need to fall under the same income range.
“These will be perpetually deed-restricted,” Cumming said.
The prices would be reviewed on an annual basis, and driven by the median income and mortgage rates. According to Cumming, based on current median income ranges and at an 8 percent mortgage rate, the units would range between around $218,000 — 80 percent of area median income for a one-bedroom unit — to $689,000, which would be the price for a two-bedroom unit for someone at 150 percent of the area median income.
“We don’t set the pricing,” Cumming said.
While for-profit investment is not allowed for units, businesses and organizations may purchase units for staff housing, keeping the rent in line with the area median income formulas. However, half of the units will be reserved for individual homeownership. Cumming also said the group was cognizant that teachers sometimes take year-long sabbaticals, so they are pushing for an allowance specifically for teachers to rent their units during that time.
Cumming also said there would be aspects of the project to look into, like traffic concerns. He did say that the development plans to use innovative and advanced septic systems to reduce nitrogen issues.
Among the different questions committee members had about the project, the most common one regarded the possibility of housing Martha’s Vineyard school system staff members. Cumming said details are still in the works. While there is a preference for Oak Bluffs residents, Cumming said, the school system can be a priority group. Cumming said his group wants to work collaboratively.
“It’s important to me, having grown up on the Island, and valuing my education on the Island,” Cumming said. “You’re an important piece of … what we want to accomplish.”