In a deal several years in the making, the town and Nantucket Cottage Hospital are trading properties in Gouin Village off Vesper Lane in a move that both sides believe will help further their affordable housing goals.
The property at 16 Vesper Lane, currently owned by the hospital, will be deeded to the town’s Affordable Housing Trust in exchange for the adjacent parcel at 18 Vesper Lane. The hospital will also send an undisclosed sum of money to the town as part of the deal to account for the fact that the property it is getting is slightly larger.
The town had acquired 18 Vesper Lane from UMass Boston in May 2021 for $2.6 million. The sale occurred only after special legislation authorizing the sale of the state-owned UMass property was approved by the Massachusetts legislature and signed by former Governor Charlie Baker.
The two sides had been in discussions about a possible trade for several years.
“We always want to be good neighbors and we obviously recognize the tremendous contribution the hospital gives to the community, so when we acquired the UMass property a few years ago, they approached us to see if we might collaborate on a larger master plan for both our property and their property,” said Tucker Holland, the town’s municipal housing director. “There isn’t a definitive design yet, but we want to be good neighbors and said let’s work collaboratively on this.”
The current zoning of the property (commercial neighborhood, CN) would allow the town to create up to 19 rental apartments, Holland said. The vacant property was previously used by the hospital as a staff parking lot during the construction of its new facility.
“What we’re trying to accomplish is to create rental opportunities for year-rounders, and given the proximity to the schools, hospitals, the Stop & Shop area, this is a great location for year-round housing,” Holland added.
The hospital also does not yet have a definitive plan for the property it will be getting, which includes a dormitory-style building that had been unused since the town purchased it due to its condition.
“Since the Affordable Housing Trust purchased the former Umass property in Gouin Village, we have been engaged in a very co-operative dialog on how to configure the property to meet the Trust’s goals while maximizing the hospital’s flexibility to expand clinical services and/or employee housing,” said Chris Glowacki, the hospital’s vice president for strategy and community health. “No specific plans are in place at this time.”