By Hiroko Sato
DEVENS -- A real estate development team from Lexington could soon begin drafting a plan to transform a 35-acre residential neighborhood in Devens with construction of up to 120 new housing units.
The MassDevelopment Board of Directors voted recently to negotiate a development agreement with Evergreen Village Collaborative, a Lexington-based team that includes developers, builders and designers, for the housing project in Grant Road neighborhood. Located in the northwest section of Devens, the neighborhood is the last piece of residentially zoned land in the 4,400-acre former Army fort community. MassDevelopment issued a request for qualification in April to look for a developer who would designate 20 to 25 percent of the proposed units as affordable housing. The quasi-state economic development agency also encouraged applicants to come up with walkable and clustered neighborhood designs with a lot of green space.
Once an agreement is reached, MassDevelopment will sell the sites to Evergreen Village Collaborative.
Six applicants expressed interest in the project before May 24 deadline, which included Tranformation, Inc., of Townsend, with architect Ben Nickerson and J.C. Construction, as well as The Community Builders, of Boston, among others.
Evergreen Village Collaborative includes Ajax Partners, LLC., of Lexington, Genesis Planners/NOW Communities, of Concord, Union Studio, Architecture & Community Design, of Providence, R.I., and Bensonwood and Unity Homes, of Walpole, N.H. Genesis Planners/NOW Communities is the developer for a eco-friendly, high-density and walkable residential development called Concord Riverwalk in West Concord.
Evergreen Village Collaborative has a plan for a "walkable neighborhood style" project with about 40 large and small single-family homes, 40 duplex and townhome units and 40 rental apartments, according to MassDevelopment. Of those, 27 units will be "affordable to moderate-income" households. There will also be "green" features, such as photovoltaic panels.
"We look forward to working with Evergreen Village Collaborative on this new Devens neighborhood," said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones in a press release. "Demand for nearby housing is likely to grow with 3,600 employees already working at Devens businesses, and these unit types will appeal to many workers."
"We are excited to have been selected and look forward to collaborating with MassDevelopment to create a model for innovative future communities at Grant Road," said Dan Gainsboro, co-developer at Evergreen Village Collaborative, in the press release. "We believe this will provide a great new neighborhood for the Devens community."
The project comes more than 1 1/2 years after neighboring towns refused to rezone Devens' historic Vicksburg Square for an affordable-apartment project. MassDevelopment then turned toward the Grant Road neighborhood, which is already zoned residential. Devens bylaws allow up to 282 units, of which 140 already exist.