North

New housing units include space for low-income tenants

Tenants are expected to begin moving into Assembly Row in April.

CClennon L. King For the Boston Globe

Tenants are expected to begin moving into Assembly Row in April.

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n a matter of weeks, the first wave of tenants — including some who could not afford it at market rates — will move into Somerville’s new high-end housing development at Assembly Row.

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Among 445 units to be occupied by summer’s end at Avalon at Assembly Row and later at its sister development, AVA Somerville, 56 will be home to low- or moderate-income people from Somerville.

Under Somerville municipal regulations, 12.5 percent of all housing built in the city must be made available to low- and moderate-income families at affordable rates.

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“The city has not only one of the strongest [inclusionary housing] laws in the Commonwealth, but also the nation,” said Danny LeBlanc, chief executive officer of the Somerville Community Corporation, whose mission is to create and preserve Somerville’s diversity and affordability.

“Some communities have laws on the books that are not fully enforced,” said LeBlanc. “And so I give Somerville a lot of credit for enforcing its affordable housing ordinance.”

Avalon at Assembly Row includes 24 apartments for low- and moderate-income households; layout options range from studios to units with three bedrooms, officials said.

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The one- and two-bedroom units offered at AVA Somerville include 32 affordable units.

“Preleasing of apartments in Avalon at Assembly Row has been very strong,” said Alex Szafranski, spokeswoman for the developer, Avalon Communities. “And we expect to have one quarter of the apartments leased around the time of the first move-in.”

Move-ins for Avalon at Assembly Row begin in the next few weeks. Preleasing for AVA Somerville will begin later this spring.

Market rates for two-bedroom apartments in the Avalon building range from $2,795 to $3,695. In August, 1,444 people entered a lottery for the 56 affordable units using two options: households earning up to 50 percent of area median income, or 80 percent of area median income. The number of family members also was a factor in qualifying, and some 500 applicants who were either residents or worked full time in Somerville received preference.

A single person who makes up to $33,050 annually would pay $664 for a studio apartment, or $843 with an annual salary of $47,150. Market rates for studios range from $2,185 to $2,510.

There are four three-bedroom apartments at Avalon at Assembly Row; according to its website, one has been leased at market rate, another was leased as affordable. The two remaining three-bedroom units, at $4,375 a month, are still available.

The affordable rate for a three-bedroom is $1,190, with income limits ranging from $60,650 for three people to $78,150 for six.

Monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment at Avalon at Assembly Row

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“Overall, we anticipate that of the 2,200 units that will be built at Assembly Row, you’d have probably 230, at least, of the affordable units of the total units there,” said Dana LeWinter, the city’s director of housing.

The mixed-used complex also includes commercial, retail, and office space, and will be served by an Assembly Station Orange Line T stop slated to open in the fall of 2014, according to the MBTA website.

Until the station opens, free shuttle service will be provided for all residents of Avalon at Assembly Row and AVA Somerville to the Sullivan Square Station during morning and evening peak hours.

City officials appear pleased that the development will include working-class tenants.

“As we prosper, we want that rising tide to raise all boats in this community,” said Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone. “We don’t want to push out our soul as we prosper.”

Although rents have not been announced for the studio, one-, and two-bedroom apartments in AVA Somerville — which are being marketed to urban professionals — some think few recent college graduates could afford to move into such an upscale development.

“OK, maybe this isn’t going to be the epicenter of 20-somethings unless they make a lot of money,” said Medford homeowner Linda Garriott as she left her car to shop at a nearby retail shopping center.

“But then they can go somewhere else and put their mark on some other place, and I’m OK with that.”

Clennon L. King can be reached at clen-non@augustine
monica.com
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