The town's Affordable Housing Trust and the Nantucket Land Bank are joining forces to buy a vacant lot at 141 Orange Street for $1.7 million.
The property is adjacent to land at 135 and 137 Orange Street which the town acquired two years ago for $3.5 million through the so-called Neighborhood First program for an affordable housing initiative. The pending purchase of the lot at 141 Orange Street would allow for a slight expansion of and alternative egress for the proposed 24-unit affordable rental housing project that is in the works.
The deal is unique. The Land Bank will be putting up roughly $1.3 million to acquire the vacant land, while the Affordable Housing Trust is dedicating $487,690 to secure an easement on the property that will give the housing development egress onto Dave Street. The Trust voted unanimously yesterday to move forward with a memorandum of understanding with the Land Bank to pursue the deal with the seller.
"The principle interest (in the new acquisition) is allowing better flow/egress," said Tucker Holland, the town's municipal housing director. "We had been planning for approximately 24 units. This may allow for two to four more to fit comfortably on the main site."
For the Land Bank, the acquisition will allow for a new pocket park, and demonstrates its willingness to work with Nantucket's housing advocates in creative ways to benefit both causes, executive director Jesse Bell said.
"The idea is to create a small park," Bell said. "The Affordable Housing Trust asked for our help in securing this additional egress for their neighboring development, and the lot is situated on a highly visible corner and major transportation corridor so we felt the collaboration made sense. Rooted in this decision is the recognition that urban green spaces have value. They can balance out density & serve as an amenity to people living in more developed areas. And they can also have habitat value depending on what you put in them. Small plantings of native plants in urban landscapes can provide critical habitat for a wide variety of birds, pollinators and other beneficial insects."
The vacant property is located at the corner of Orange and Dave streets, across the road from the Landmark House. Formerly owned by the Fee family, the property was purchased for $950,000 in 2018 by ACK Dreams LLC, an entity registered to Colorado resident Steven Jemison.
If approved by the Affordable Housing Trust, the acquisition would be closed with funds appropriated for affordable housing projects through a vote at the 2021 Annual Town Meeting.