Discussing Community Planning at Mashpee Commons and Affordable Housing Problems on Cape Cod

Project: Manhattan Remodel and Cape Cod Affordable, Episode 3, Part 1



Affordable housing is the story in this project as Bob heads to Mashpee, Massachusetts on Cape Cod, where a state law is helping put higher density, affordable housing in place for four families who live and work in the community. Bob meets Pat Fiero of the Housing Assistance Corporation who explains the hurdles faced by families needing to live near their workplaces in a town where the average home price is $450,000. Bob visits Mashpee Commons and looks at mixed-use development that is providing a town center, housing, commercial property, recreational space, and a new church as a start to this new town development. Bob also meets the developer, Joe Valle, who explains the challenges in developing affordable housing and how this project was made possible by invoking Massachusetts? 40B land use and development law. On site, Bob Bevilaqua moves the earth to prepare the sites, shows the tie-offs for electrical and phone lines, and explains the drainage plan.
Part 1: Discussing Community Planning at Mashpee Commons and Affordable Housing Problems on Cape Cod
Bob visits with Jim Vaccaro and Tom Ferontie of Mashpee Commons, in New Mashpee, Massachusetts. This urban and community development is set to evolve over years. It has a mix of business, retail, professional, and housing space. There are apartments above storefronts and offices. By the time Mashpee Commons is complete, it will have 380 homes, including apartments, condominums, senior housing, and single-family homes. By choice and in deference to Act 40B, 25 percent of the new homes will be affordable to those earning a modest income. Vaccaro points out that there is a serious work-force housing shortage on the Cape. The goal of this project is to be part of the housing solution. Bob remarks that the architectural style is a classic New England mix, as if it grew over generations. Ferontie explains that the goal was to meld the Nantucket and Cape Cod styles in terms of materials, colors, and architectural details like cornices and windows, but keep a skeleton that is contemporoary and efficient. Most buildings are steel frame with brick or wood veneers. Bob talks with Pat Fiero of the Housing Assistance Corporation about the difficulty in finding land and developing affordable housing on Cape Cod. Fiero tells the story of Dennis, Masssachusetts, where a forward-thinking zoning bylaw allows development of undersized lots if used for affordable housing. The reality is that neighbors have banded together to block such projects, so they do not come to pass. Known as the NIMBY (not in my backyard) response, such thinking prevents people who work in these communities from being able to live in them. It also keeps many who have grown up in these towns from being able to raise their families there.
Part 2: Discussing the Plot Plan for Affordable Housing on Cape Cod
Part 3: Preparing the Site for the Construction of Eleven Homes
This project deals with two very different notions of home. Bob begins on New York City's Upper West Side, where an 1890s Brownstone is revitalized through high-quality craftsmanship and sensitive design. New York's past meets its present, as the entire floor is recaptured and refurbished to create a spacious urban apartment on the doorstep of Central Park.

At the same time, Bob works with a Cape Cod developer to apply Massachusetts land use statute 40B to create affordable housing, and a neighborhood of homes in Mashpee, MA. These Energy Star certified homes show how quality building practices and reasonable asking prices can work together to provide livable, affordable homes and neighborhoods to those who work in our communities.

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