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Focused Ideas for the Future of Beverly

9.11.19

On September 11th, NSAR gathered REALTOR® residents, REALTOR® brokers, and REALTOR® leaders to meet with Aaron Clausen, Director of Planning and Community Development for the city of Beverly, to discuss PlanBeverly, housing, and the formation of a new Beverly Master Plan.

Aaron began the meeting with an overview of how PlanBeverly has progressed so far and where it is headed next.  So far, the surveys and public meetings have accumulated over 600 unique data sets, more or less evenly distributed amongst residents from different parts of the city. The next immediate step is to hold Neighborhood Meetings in each ward.  These meetings will span from September 19th to October 29th.

Next flowed a discussion on the perceived and actual needs of the city, mostly centered around housing but also tangential topics such as transportation and economic development. 

Affordable housing was considered a strong point of need by the group.  Aaron outlined what Affordable Housing means in Beverly.  Since Beverly is part of the Boston Metro Area, what is considered “Affordable Housing” as defined by percentage of Area Median Income (AMI) might surprise some.  At 80% AMI (sometimes called workforce housing) a 2 bedroom apartment could rent for up to around $1700 a month and still be considered Affordable Housing.  Aaron stressed the desire for the city to build a diverse range of Affordable Housing at many different levels of AMI.

The construction of new purchase units instead of rental units was another point brought forward.  This topic focused not just on single family construction but a “deep need for a variety of housing.”  Aaron explained the city has pre-meetings with developers to explain the parameters before a development is ever submitted.  This cuts the permitting timeline down to around 30-60 days, a very efficient timeline.  Even so the multi-unit developments that have been submitted are not purchase units but instead rentals, where the investors are seeing larger margins and less risk.  The note was added that many of the newly constructed rental buildings could be turned into condos down the road.  Another avenue for new purchase units could be the adoption of a ‘Great Estates’ Ordinance.  This would allow a special permitting process for large estates to be converted into multi-unit dwellings while still retaining their historic characteristics.

Senior Housing was discussed as another central issue.  Aaron explained that the demographics of Beverly have been steadily changing.  From the 1970s to now the population has not increased significantly but the types of households have.  Most households are now smaller and owners are increasingly either in their 20-30s or over 60.  This has maintained an increase in demand for housing without the population rising significantly.  The newly constructed, transit-oriented rental units downtown, that were thought to be appealing to young professionals, are actually being more overwhelmingly rented to empty nesters.  Beverly has seen very little in the way of developer interest in building over 55 communities.  Accessory Dwelling Units by right was noted as another way to combat the senior housing issue.  Multi-generational living is in demand with buyers in the market today but the permitting process is seen as preventative.

The North Shore Association of REALTORS® will continue to be involved as these conversations move forward.  You can find more information on PlanBeverly here.

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