DANVERS — A local developer is proposing to build Conifer Hill Commons, a housing project that could become the town's latest neighborhood.
The plan is to build 200 to 240 affordable apartments on 18 acres in and around Rand Circle over the next three to five years, said Selectman Gardner Trask, chairman of the town's Affordable Housing Committee.
"This size makes it a community," Trask said.
Cindy Dunn, the executive director of the Danvers Housing Authority, said the plan is to build the project in four phases, with the initial phase involving 78 units, some of which would replace 36 units at Rand Circle, an affordable-housing development that dates back to 1982.
Of the remaining phase-one units, 21 would be set aside for senior living and 21 would be two-bedroom family units, all in a townhouse style, Dunn said.
The development is in the Smith School district.
The goal is not simply to meet the 10 percent threshold for affordable housing set by the state, Trask said. The project would create housing opportunities for Danvers families making $66,000 or less, the level to qualify for a unit.
"This is the teacher in town, this is the patrolman in town," Trask said of who might qualify to live there.
Rand Circle residents would be offered new units as they are built, Trask said, and Rand Circle itself would be torn down and redeveloped once that happens.
Rand Circle now consists of duplex townhouses of two-, three- and four-bedroom units, including two handicapped-accessible units, according to the Danvers Housing Authority's website. It's tucked behind the Danvers Plaza shopping center on land bounded by Route 1 and Interstate 95.
The proposed developer is Kavanagh Advisory Group of Danvers, whose chairman and CEO, John E. Kavanagh III, was the former president of William A. Berry and Sons Construction, which he and Peter Campot built into a $500 million business in 2007 before Kavanagh retired early that year. Berry Construction was sold to Suffolk Construction last September.
An e-mail message and a phone call were left with Kavanagh's office Wednesday but were not returned as of press time. A call to Danvers attorney Nancy McCann was not immediately returned.
Trask said Kavanagh wants to develop land off Conifer Hill Drive that is adjacent to Rand Circle, an office park and Berry Construction's headquarters. The land is bounded by Route 1 to the west and Interstate 95 to the east.
The project's progress beyond the initial building phase depends on the financial scheme and the market need. There is demand for 78 units, Dunn said.
"We know we have the need for those, and we know we can fill them rather quickly," she said.
The plan benefits the Danvers Housing Authority in that Rand Circle's units are in need of expensive repairs and Rand Circle itself needs to be repaved, Dunn said. The project would eventually be deeded to the Danvers Housing Authority, she added.
Trask said the developer is also proposing amenities such as a community room, playgrounds and facilities for the housing authority to have an office or store equipment.
The development would also have multiple entrances to Conifer Hill Drive. Right now, Rand Circle has just one way in and one way out.
A public meeting on the development is scheduled for July 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the Senior Center, 25 Stone St., Trask said. The Zoning Board of Appeals will hear the plan in August.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.