ZBA Approves Shortened 40B

Published by Chris Wangler- October 23, 2020.

The third and largest 40B project in a recent wave just got approved by Waltham’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
Is this the one that will eventually block other 40Bs from coming to Waltham?
The city managed to negotiate many concessions into Alliance Residential’s revised comprehensive permit, chiefly a reduction in building height from 12 stories to 8.
[Note: the rendering shows the original 12-story proposal.]
The proposed apartment complex at 305 Winter Street will have 315 units and 475 parking spaces total.
25% or 79 units will be affordable, with 59 earmarked for those earning 80% of Area Media Income (AMI) and the other 20 for residents earning 60% AMI.
Although some won’t consider these units actually affordable, the higher number of more affordable 60% AMI units will offer some hope as rental costs continue to rise.
Alliance’s permit requires it to carry out sewer and drain work, as well as a number of other infrastructure and safety improvements.
The development was first proposed last August at the site of a former electronics fasteners office behind the Home Suites Inn on Totten Pond.
City officials and especially Waltham Fire criticized the unprecedented building height. The fire chief initially complained that fire apparatus could not navigate the site or reach upper stories in the event of a fire.
The city's Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) in March. The 305 Winter Street project was expected to be approved just as the coronavirus struck, delaying the vote.
Alliance revised its proposal in response.
It’s the second successful 40B application in Waltham for the large development company. Another rental project off Bear Hill Road with roughly 200 units is slated for completion in 2021.
“Alliance is delighted to expand our portfolio in the City of Waltham,” said Alliance managing director Mike Boujoulian.
“This city is the nexus of Greater Boston’s largest suburban employment market, and integrating housing with its 21st century workforce is critical to the future of our region,” he said.
The Winter Street 40B project and the two others have been able to skirt local regulations because the city falls short of state-mandated affordable housing totals.
But for development-weary residents, the good news is that all the units in 40B projects count toward Waltham’s Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI), not just the affordable ones.
For a second time, Alliance proposed to build in a non-residential area of Waltham, minimizing blowback from upset neighbors. But Totten Pond Road resident Elizabeth Lear spoke up to oppose traffic and other impacts, describing the project in November 2019 at "absolutely huge."
Once the SHI reaches 10%, 40Bs won’t be able to come to Waltham.
When all three current 40Bs are finished, Waltham will likely exceed the 10% threshold, but there’s a catch.
The current SHI is calculated by state housing officials with 2010 Census data. It’s unknown how the 2020 Census data will change that tabulation.