Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Housing Corp Celebrates New Project and Arlington Champion

On Thursday, November 4, at the Housing Corporation of Arlington’s Annual Meeting, over eighty HCA supporters came out to local East Arlington eatery, Flora Restaurant, for a scrumptious breakfast to celebrate the beginning of a new project and to salute a longtime Arlington ally.

To start off the festivities, HCA announced a major $9 million project to benefit low-income residents. Housing Corporation of Arlington (HCA) has purchased three early 20th century apartment buildings on adjacent parcels just a few blocks from where the meeting was taking place in East Arlington. As part of the newly named initiative, Capitol Square Apartments will include significant renovations to all 32 existing apartments, common areas and exteriors, and units will be made affordable in perpetuity serving low-income households.

The Capitol Square Apartments Project, located at 252, 258-260 Massachusetts Avenue, will restore these historic structures through a certified preservation project utilizing both federal and state historic tax credits. According to Richard Duffy, Co-Chair of the Arlington Historical Commission, Edward and Mary Houlian built the three apartment buildings on a portion of the former John P. Squire estate, which had been subdivided and sold as smaller lots. The first apartment building was built in 1912 (#252) and the other two (#258 & 260) followed soon after.

The apartments represent the transition to increasingly dense development of this section of Arlington. This was in part spurred by the trolley car line that shortened commuting times into and out of Boston and Cambridge. The Holian Apartments are the oldest examples of a multifamily housing type that would come to predominate on Massachusetts Avenue in East Arlington over the course of the twentieth century. The opening of the subway at Harvard Square in 1912, with prospects of extending the rapid transit line already under discussion (but not realized until 1985)' was the likely catalyst for a project such as the Holian Apartments.

Green building techniques will also be employed in the renovation to create and allow for a more efficient building envelope and utility systems, water conservation measures, Energy Star appliances, the use of drought resident vegetation and more. Following renovations, the buildings will offer a mix of apartment sizes including studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units, retaining 32 units overall.

HCA’s Executive Director David Levy recalled, “I recently went and pulled out HCA’s Strategic Plan for the period 2007-2012. Our first goal was to double HCA’s affordable apartments by 2012 from 46 to 100 units—we’re almost there!”

Laura Wiener, HCA co-founder and Arlington’s Director of Housing, presented HCA’s 2010 Deacon Frank Mandosa Community Service Award to Leon Cantor for his dedication and service to the Town of Arlington and spoke about his 36 year tenure in Arlington. Leon began as a social worker at the Massachusetts Department of Public Welfare and for over three decades continued to serve low-income residents as an advocate, social worker and counselor. He acted as the Director of the Arlington Youth Consultation Center and was on the review committee for HCA’s Homelessness Prevention Fund, assisting residents with housing issues. Though Leon officially retired last June, he continues to serve the community by gathering up produce at the end of the Farmers Market each Wednesday and deliver it to low-income residents. “To me,” Laura expressed, “That is an act of love.”

Leon spoke lovingly about the Town of Arlington and the people with whom he worked. He also shared, “It has been great to be a partner of the Housing Corporation, and watch them work diligently one project and one person at a time to make people’s lives better.”

Paul Parravano, HCA Board President, ended the morning’s presentation by asking participants for their support, “HCA cannot do its work in a vacuum. It’s important for us to know that you’re there to inspire us and keep us moving towards our goals.”