Developers tout plans for new Wareham affordable housing project

Jun 7, 2017

A Waltham-based firm plans to build a 174-unit affordable housing development at 3102 Cranberry Highway in East Wareham, near the intersection of the highway and Red Brook Road.

Dubbed Woodland Cove, the 40B affordable housing development would consist of 32 one-bedroom, 122 two-bedroom and 20 three-bedroom apartments. Under Chapter 40B, a state law, zoning regulations are relaxed for developers in towns where less than 10 percent of housing stock is considered affordable.

The firm proposing the project, Dakota Partners, plans to rent 40 percent of the units at market rates and 60 percent at affordable rates. Using market rates, there are no restrictions on rent. Using affordable rates, rents must not exceed state guidelines that are determined based upon income.

On Tuesday, Dakota Partners Principal Steve Kominski and Vice President of Development & Construction Jim O’Brien provided Selectmen with a brief presentation on the plans and some background on their company.

Selectman Patrick Tropeano recused himself from the conversation, noting a conflict of interest. Tropeano said there is a pending lawsuit between the current owner of the property and himself. Kominski and O’Brien said they were unaware of the lawsuit.

“This is a problem that needs to be ironed out,” said Tropeano. “This issue was around before the project started.”

Tropeano did not elaborate on the nature of the lawsuit.

Moving on with the presentation, Kominski and O’Brien said the project, if approved, would have three phases. In the first, 48 market rate units would be built partly financed through the state’s Workforce Housing Program. Phase two calls for constructing 63 units of which 10 would be market rate. Phase three would also see 63 units built, 10 of which would be market rate.

Kominski and O’Brien noted that an existing building on the site, The Starlight Motel, would be demolished for the complex.

Both said that potential renters who already live in Wareham or work for the town would be given preference when applying.

Kominski and O’Brien’s visit with Selectmen marked the first time the plans were officially announced. Informally, Selectman Alan Slavin said he spoke with both at length last week.

During their presentation, Kominski and O’Brien listed several similar housing projects their firm has built across New England in Haverhill, Hyannis and New Milford, Connecticut.

Board members did not vote on the project, but will discuss it further next week. Kominski and O’Brien did not provide a timetable for construction.