NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 25, 2013

Still no takers for MBTA land

NEWBURYPORT — It is said that the demand for real estate in this city is strong, but one property that has not inspired buyers is an 11.1-acre parcel on Boston Way, near the train station.

The land is owned by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, and yesterday city and state officials hosted an informational meeting to interest developers in purchasing the parcel.

They sought ideas from the developers on what would make the land attractive for competitive bidding, perhaps because when the parcel went out for bid in July, there were no participants at a starting figure of about $1.5 million

“We want to get your ideas on what would interest you about this property,” said Greg Winter, senior project manager for Transit Realty Advisors, the MBTA division that develops excess property.

Though the land is controlled by the MBTA, the city has an interest in the outcome. Municipal leaders have been studying this area of the city for more than a decade and want it to emerge as part of a Smart Growth Zoning Overlay District with multiple uses including commercial and residential.

Planning Director Andy Port said at the meeting that the city is determined to include some affordable housing units there.

City officials say that “not less than 20 percent” of the units to be developed should be affordable under the “Chapter 40R” housing program that is being followed.

Candidates for affordable housing are defined as individuals and families whose annual income is less than 80 percent of area-wide median income. Based on state statistics, a family with an income of $51,400 would qualify.

“We have our goals, but we want to work with developers so they can create a project that works for them and for us,” said Port.

Only about 7.8 percent of the city’s housing stock is “affordable.”

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