Quincy Street property purchase looks to keep affordable housing in Fairfield
FAIRFIELD — In a push to maintain Quincy Street as affordable housing, the Representative Town Meeting approved an agreement to purchase the property.
The town legislative body passed the resolution unanimously and without discussion this week. It comes after several week’s of discussions and presentations.
Town officials should close on the property by the end of October, said Mark Barnhart, Fairfield’s director of community and economic development. He added the current homeowner would lease the house before moving while she ties up some loose ends.
The property was once part of a U.S. Navy site purchased by the town and subdivided into individual building lots, Barnhart said at an earlier presentation about the proposal. When the town sold the property, he said, it mandated that any buildings on the property be affordable housing. The mandate included a right of first refusal to repurchase if the owner was looking to sell.
Barnhart said the town wants to purchase the property, and possibly surrounding lots that also used to be part of the site, to maintain and redevelop the units there and ensure their long-term use as affordable housing. He said the town may also want to add additional units on the property.
“There’s an opportunity to, perhaps, create additional housing units here through a redevelopment plan,” he said. “So, this would be the initial step. The idea, the intent, would be to purchase additional properties contiguous to this lot, working with willing sellers, aggregate those parcels and redevelop the site.”
Barnhart said the goal of a larger project would be to demolish the existing units and build ones that are flood resistant and energy efficient. He said the town worked with a collection of homeowners and non-profit developers in a similar process a few years ago, but was not able to secure financing for the project.
After that, the town created a housing trust fund, Barnhart said. He noted that if they could not redevelop the site, they would sell the property for the purchasing price, while keeping the affordable mandate in place.
In a meeting three weeks ago, Selectman Tom Flynn, who had postponed the vote for a week so he could inspect the property and research the plan for it, said he was in favor of reaching the affordable housing threshold set by the state as quickly as possible to end an era in which 8-30g is being “used against the town and its neighborhoods.”
A state regulation, 8-30g allows developers to not meet local zoning restrictions if their application has an affordable component.