BEVERLY – The stand-off between a developer seeking to build a 6-story apartment building near the Beverly Depot on Rantoul Street and city residents opposed to the project is set to continue for at least another month following the extension Tuesday night of a Planning Board hearing on the proposal.
The debate over Depot 2 already has lasted for months. Tuesday night's hearing was continued to November because a consultant essential to developer Beverly Crossing's case for the plan was unable to attend due to a family illness. Using time freed up by the change in the Tuesday hearing's schedule, developer Beverly Crossing detailed proposed changes to the plan and some of three dozen city residents in attendance voiced objections.
The most-animated discussion of the $45 million project, which would replace old buildings across the street from the Beverly Depot with a C-shaped apartment building containing 111 units, centered on afforable housing.
A Beverly Crossing analysis presented at the hearing suggested that based on income levels reported by 345 residents of the company's existing buildings in the city, residents of the proposed building would pay rents well below the widely accepted 30-percent-of-income standard. The analysis suggested the percentage of income going ot rent would be: 18 percent for renters of studios; 21 percent for renters of 1-bedroom apartments; and 26 percent for renters of 2-bedroom apartments. Beverly Crossing proposed designating around a dozen off-site units as "affordable" to satisfy the city's requirements governing erection of new buldings.
"None of these fall into affordable housing," said Beckford Street resident Robert Moser, who said he's a single parent. "You're pricing us out on purpose."
Moser said construction of new apartments is sparking renovations of existing buidings that together are "kicking the working class out of this town." He said Beverly is undgoing "gentrification," but officials won't use the term.
The developer's lawyer, Miranda Gooding, responded that housing affordability is a big challenge.
"I know this is hard and I know this community is grappling with it," she said, adding: "I would respectfully take issue with all of that falling at the feet of Beverly Crossing." She said the firm is among the city's most-productive developers of affordable housing.
Ober Street resident John Newman called the design of the proposed building "an affront to the area."