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A workforce housing plan in Lenox just got a big helping hand from the state. Seniors could also benefit

An illustration provided by the developers shows the revised layout of the Brushwood Farm Housing apartment project at 36 Pittsfield Road in Lenox.

LENOX — With local rentals scarce and pricey, this town’s most extensive workforce housing development proposal just got a major boost from the state.

Pennrose LLC is developing a town-approved, 65-unit rental housing complex in 13 townhouse buildings at Brushwood Farm, off Pittsfield Road (Routes 7 & 20). The project, estimated at $32 million to build, now has a mix of state and federal subsidies.

Charlie Adams, regional vice president at Pennrose, said the state last week awarded what Pennrose requested — $7 million in affordable and workforce funding as well as tax credits worth $21 million to be marketed to a private equity investor. Another $3 million would be secured from a private mortgage.

An additional cost is the undisclosed purchase price of the property owned by the June F. Hashim Trust. Pennrose, a national developer of residential housing complexes, holds a purchase-and-sale option to acquire the site at 36 Pittsfield Road once all funding is secured and construction is set to begin.

“We are very excited about the project and know that Pennrose is going to create an amazing and unique community that we can all be proud of,” said James Hashim, trustee.

“This is a major step to increase the town’s supply of affordable housing,” said Marybeth Mitts, chair of the town’s Affordable Housing Trust, who is also a Select Board member.

The fast-track comprehensive permit approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals in March 2022 includes a commitment from the town’s Community Preservation Committee of $500,000 funded by local taxpayers.

“We’re now on the way to ‘shovels in the ground,’” said Affordable Housing Trust member Christopher Fenton, who attended the announcement in Lowell on Thursday. “The town’s investment played a major role in the ability of the project to be awarded on the first try.”

He added, “As a tourist town, we rely on visitors to come to Lenox to drive our economy. If we don’t have a place to live for the folks who provide the services, we may not be able to provide them.”

Fenton, a commercial mortgage banker, said the project also offers an opportunity for long-time residents, who may want to sell their house and stay in Lenox, especially seniors on fixed incomes.

Next steps for Pennrose include completion of architectural drawings, locating the private equity investor, and wrapping up additional “due diligence,” Adams said. Construction could begin in spring of 2024 with completion in summer of 2025.

Fifty of the 65 apartments would be for households earning less than 60 percent of the area median income, with nine of those units designated for those earning less than 30 percent. Fifteen apartments would rent for 60 to 120 percent of the AMI.

According to current estimates, subject to change, one-year renewable leases would range from $800 per month for a one-bedroom unit to $2,500 for a three-bedroom apartment, available to income-eligible individuals and families.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com.

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