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City seeks to turn West Newton Armory into 43 units of affordable housing

The city of Newton is working with Metro West Collaborative Development and Civico Development to turn the West Newton armory on Washington Street into affordable housing.Davis Square Architects

Newton city leaders and developers are seeking to convert the West Newton armory into 43 rental units of affordable housing for families, according to the city and the project’s development team.

The project to convert the former Massachusetts National Guard building into housing, proposed by Mayor Ruthanne Fuller in 2019, comes amid soaring housing prices across the region.

The Washington Street development will include a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, and will be reserved for residents earning between 30 percent and 60 percent of the area median income, according to a proposal by the project’s team, Metro West Collaborative Development and Civico Development. Rental assistance will be available for seven of the apartments.

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The area median income for a family of four in Newton was $120,800 in fiscal 2021, according to the city, and $130,464 for five people.

In their proposal, developers pointed to data from Newton and across the region that showed the housing market remains extremely tight.

“Clearly, the need for more affordable rental housing for families continues to grow,” the developers said in their project proposal.

That mix of apartments planned for the Armory “will result in a multigenerational, family-oriented community that will provide new affordable housing to 43 households with few other options in Newton,” the proposal said.

The development will preserve the distinctive castle-like building facing Washington Street and include a community room, management offices, and gallery space, according to the proposal.

The building’s existing field house will be demolished to make way for a four-story structure housing the new apartments, and include an entry off Armory Street. Parking will include 28 spaces at the site, and located under the new addition, the proposal said, and a solar array will be erected on its roof.

The city will host a virtual meeting about the project on Wednesday, Jan. 26, at 6 p.m., according to Fuller.

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The city paid $1 to the state earlier this year for the Washington Street building on the condition it be used for housing.

Before Newton purchased the armory, a city panel recommended that the property be reused for housing. Fuller chose the development team after the city solicited proposals earlier this year.

Developers of the roughly $25 million project said in their proposal they will seek a mix of federal and state funding. Developers also will seek more than $5.1 million from the city for the project, including from Newton’s Community Preservation Act and Community Development Block Grant allocations.

The development will consist of 15 one-bedroom apartments, 11 of which will be reserved for households earning up to 60 percent of the area median income. The other four are reserved for households earning 30 percent of that income level.

Another 21 units will have two bedrooms — 13 available for households earning up to 60 percent of the median income, and eight reserved for households earning 30 percent, according to the proposal.

The remaining seven units will come with three bedrooms, the proposal said. They’ll include four apartments reserved for 60 percent area median income earners. Three units will be reserved for households earning 30 percent.

According to a project timeline included in the proposal, developers will file for a comprehensive permit for the project in June 2022 with the goal of receiving approval from the city in September. Developers hope to begin construction in April 2024, according to the proposal.

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Fuller, who announced the selection of the development team in a statement, said the city is planning a ribbon-cutting for the development in 2025.

“The team is committed to robust engagement with our community throughout the long design, permitting, and construction process and beyond when the residents move in,” Fuller said in the statement.


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.