The groundbreaking for the controversial Surfside Crossing development could happen as soon as July, the project team announced over the weekend, and pre-sales are about to start.
After years of acrimony over the 156 condominium units slated for South Shore Road, developers Jamie Feeley and Josh Posner said they have reached a critical stage in the process for Surfside Crossing, and are ready to proceed despite the three pending lawsuits filed to stop the project.
To that end, the Surfside Crossing team has rolled out a new video about the development that features local business leaders - including Cisco Brewers’ Jay Harman, the Nantucket Hotel’s Carlos Castrello, and Toscana’s Carl Jelleme - endorsing the development.
Meanwhile, Feeley stated Saturday that Surfside Crossing is “actively pursuing collaborations with non-profits, local businesses, philanthropists and town bodies to support a goal of deed restricting up to two-thirds of the market rate units” within the controversial development to make them more accessible to year-round island residents. Options include income restrictions for buyers of the units, requirements for year-round residency, as well as limitations on short-term rentals.
As it stands today, Surfside Crossing would include 156 condominium homes contained within 18-three story buildings (two stories above grade) on 13 acres of undeveloped pine forest off South Shore Road. As a Chapter 40B development, 25 percent of those units are required by the state to be deed restricted for affordable housing, or a total of 39 units within the development, to residents earning at or below 80% of the area median income.
“From the outset we have been clear that our team will be flexible and open-minded about a wide variety of partnerships that take a collaborative approach toward maximizing the positive impacts of Surfside Crossing on our year-round community,” Feeley said in a statement. While there is nothing yet set in stone, Feeley said those partnerships and collaborations could result in up to 75 percent - or 117 units - ending up in local ownership. They will be priced between $500,000 to $1.5 million.
Although Surfside Crossing has received approval from the state Housing Appeals Committee, it is still facing three lawsuits filed by the Nantucket Land Council, the non-profit group Nantucket Tipping Point, and the town itself through the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Shortly after those lawsuits were filed, the town’s municipal housing director Tucker Holland acknowledged the Surfside Crossing team’s verbal statements about maximizing local ownership of the condominium units, but said a more solid commitment was needed.
“Unfortunately so far, when it comes to formally agreeing to the representations the developers have made about their intentions of serving the year-round community, they have thus far been not been willing to commit in writing,” Holland said last fall. “Given the importance of the year-round housing issue, hopefully there will be reconsideration and reasonable minds will prevail.”
Nantucket Tipping Point board member Meghan Perry disputed the latest statement from the Surfside Crossing team, and disparaged the video.
“This project is not and never has been about the local community,” Perry said. “The only thing that has been clear from the ‘outset’ is that Surfside Crossing has been about the millionaire developers exploiting Nantucket and the 40B law so that the developers may make a profit off the backs of the hard working people of Nantucket and that is what this PR crafted press release and sales video highlights. Surfside Crossing is not going to solve the housing problem on Nantucket. The press release and sales video shows a level of honestly on par with the level of honesty that we have seen with the SBPF project. Those featured are all stakeholders or have a financial incentive to promote and endorse this type of reckless folly luring the public into believing this is for our community.”
Contacted by the Current about his appearance in the Surfside Crossing video, Cisco’s Jay Harman said that while the brewery has not yet committed to purchasing any units within the development, he has long discussed year-round housing with Feeley, and feels the project could be an opportunity for his staff members.
“Our once young 20-year-old brewery staff who were okay living in dormitory style housing are now moving into their 30s and 40s and looking to settle down,” Harman said. “Over the past 25 years, I've helped several employees secure affordable houses to own on-island but it's become very difficult to do that for various reasons with affordability being the biggest hurdle. Local businesses are working with the developers on a plan to buy down and add further restrictions to units so that employees can not only afford to live on-island but afford to own. We need to work through the details with the developers before we can commit to the affordable units but we are discussing the opportunity. I do believe Surfside Crossing is a good opportunity for the year-round community but there is still a lot of work to be done with the town, non-profits and local businesses on how to best structure the year-round restricted units beyond the required 25 percent in 40B.”