MBTA advances nearly 1,000 units of housing 

Special to the Gazette 

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is proud to announce the completion of five Collaborative Agreements to Advance Housing Transit-Oriented Development Projects within the past year under the leadership of MBTA General Manager and CEO Phillip Eng, including the 18.98-acre site at Attleboro Station. The agreements represent a cross-section of Memorandums of Agreement (MOA), purchase and sale agreements, easements, or amendments to existing agreements that make these projects possible. These agreements have enabled the development of nearly 1,000 housing units, many of which are affordable, demonstrating the MBTA’s commitment to supporting housing development in concert with local communities.

Secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities Ed Augustus and MBTA General Manager Eng joined Attleboro officials to highlight this site, which is the culmination of a vision that began over 30 years ago under the Administration of the late Judy Robbins, former mayor of Attleboro, Massachusetts, who first conceived the plan for the development of this land.

“Housing near public transit is good housing policy, it’s good transportation policy, and it’s good climate policy,” said Housing and Livable Communities Secretary Ed Augustus. “Massachusetts is in desperate need of more affordable housing. The Healey-Driscoll Administration is committed to working with our local communities and the MBTA to repurpose underutilized land and transform it into vibrant, livable communities. This housing means more opportunities for families to thrive and call Attleboro home.”

In addition to these collaborative agreements, the MBTA and its development partners have also recently completed and opened several new housing projects, further contributing to the region’s housing stock. Today’s event was part of the Administration’s statewide Housing Campaign to call attention to the urgent need to lower housing costs throughout Massachusetts. Yesterday, the Administration announced $12 million in Community Investment Tax Credits (CITC) to 54 Community Development Corporations across the state. Events last week focused on transforming public housing, identifying housing solutions with the business industry, ending veteran homelessness, the impact of housing on health care, and the Healey-Driscoll Administration’s partnership with cities and towns to find solutions.

“We know that a sound transportation system is vital to ensuring and improving quality of life for riders, communities, and businesses that we serve. These collaborative agreements are a testament to the power of partnerships as we all strive to address the need for housing,” said MBTA General Manager Eng. “When we invest in public transportation, we are investing in vibrant and sustainable communities. We thank the Healey-Driscoll Administration for their leadership in this critical work as we do our part to support the creation of housing developments that are affordable and equitable.”

The MBTA’s Transit-Oriented Development and Innovative Delivery (TOD/ID) program fosters sustainable growth and improved transit access by partnering with developers, municipal and state agencies, and other stakeholders. This collaborative approach has led to successful transit-oriented development projects at Assembly Station, Jackson Square Station, Wonderland Station, and North Station.

“In Attleboro and beyond, the key to solving our housing shortage is boldly building more homes and various types of housing across price points,” said Attleboro Mayor Cathleen DeSimone. “We must commit to moving beyond the traditional single-family home and embrace again multi-family housing, mixed-used developments, smaller homes and smaller lot sizes, and accessory dwelling units. Adding homes near transportation hubs is one important way of advancing both our housing objectives and the state’s climate initiatives. If we want to continue welcoming working families to live and thrive here, building more housing is essential to the economic and cultural future of Attleboro and the Commonwealth.”

The five MBTA Transit-Oriented Development Collaborative Agreements relieving the debt of  the nonprofit Mission Hill Neighborhood Housing Services.  The relieved outstanding mortgage obligation on a former MBTA property, allowed the nonprofit to advance a 100% affordable housing project of up to 94 units near Roxbury Crossing Station. 

“The Healey-Driscoll Administration has made key investments in both housing and transportation across the state,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Monica Tibbits-Nutt. “Today’s event reinforces our commitment to delivering a transportation system that can strengthen the state’s economy, provide access to employment and housing, and improve the quality of life for all our residents.”

Looking ahead, the MBTA is working to advance redevelopment at key transit hubs such as Quincy Center, Riverside, and Alewife stations. The Agency is also supporting the construction of over 1,800 units of market-rate housing and 500+ units of affordable housing in communities across its service area, with an additional 6,000 units in the design and planning review phases.

“We appreciate the support of the MBTA to increase the land offering for our project and look forward to the successful expansion of housing opportunities in Attleboro,” said Attleboro Redevelopment Authority Chairperson Rose Larson.

The land surrounding the Attleboro Station has a long history of industrial use and contamination. The site of Renaissance North and bus loops was once home to Automated Machine Products – North, while the site of One Wall Street housed Automated Machine Products – South and the Old Barn. The area immediately south of the Commuter Rail platform was previously occupied by a police station, Department of Public Works laydown yard, and municipal landfill. Further south, the land at Olive Street was once a chemical company site, with an outbuilding that caught fire. Over the decades, these parcels were contaminated by various sources. Through the collaborative efforts of MassDevelopment, MassDEP, MassDOT, the FTA, the City of Attleboro, and the Attleboro Redevelopment Authority (ARA), these parcels were acquired and remediated to allow for dense residential use. This massive undertaking has prepared the land for its future purpose.

Looking ahead, the ARA is set to release a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) as the first of two steps in selecting a Master Developer to guide the redevelopment of the transit-oriented development land. The RFQ will enable the ARA to identify a pool of qualified development teams with the necessary experience and financial capacity to undertake a project of this scale. In addition to assessing the qualifications of interested developers, the ARA will use the RFQ to better understand each team’s abilities, portfolio, and vision. This information will help the ARA craft a more prescriptive Request for Proposals (RFP) in the second step, which will be released directly to the developers selected in the RFQ process. The RFP will require certain project elements, such as a minimum percentage of affordable units, open space, and engagement of woman- and minority-owned businesses in the development.

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