SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

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October 23, 2013

Conifer Hill Commons

Local development firm creates 90 affordable apartments in Danvers, without resorting to 40B

DANVERS — The town’s newest neighborhood opens Nov. 1.

That’s when residents of the Conifer Hill Commons affordable housing complex start to move in, with the completion of the first three buildings in the project.

Eventually, the $23.8 million apartment complex, which is being built in two phases, will have six buildings with a total of 90 apartments, all of them affordable.

The project, which is quietly nearing completion in a remote part of town, has been accomplished without the developer’s having to resort to a 40B permit — the mechanism that allows developers to skirt zoning laws in communities with too little affordable housing. Kavanagh Advisory Group, a Danvers firm making its first foray into affordable housing, did not ask for or receive a special permit.

”They deserve a lot of credit for doing this so well, by involving the town and not taking any shortcuts or circumvents,” said Selectman Gardner Trask, who attended a ribbon cutting for the development earlier this month. “We are going to get 90 new families who will add to the fabric and the diversity of the town.”

About 48 units are opening with the first phase of construction, and the rest will follow shortly, said Sean Donnelly, Conifer Hill Commons’ project manager and associate with the firm Kavanagh Advisory Group. Tax credits from the state Department of Housing and Community Development made the project possible, Donnelly said.

While the project did not go through a 40B permit battle, it did require a zoning variance because it is being built on land zoned for a highway corridor.

”Given that we were creating a neighborhood with Rand Circle (a nearby affordable-housing neighborhood), so they wouldn’t be on their own island, essentially, we were able to achieve the zoning variance with the town, through the appropriate channels,” Donnelly said.

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