Newton TAB’s front page today reports that “officials may move forward on [the] armory” and repeats Mayor Fuller’s statement that the state “is willing to sell the building to the city for $1 only if it is used for affordable housing in perpetuity,” citing that the state’s Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance would require approximately $1 million if used for any other municipal purpose. The article continues, city “officials have [already] applied for state funds to hire an affordable housing development consultant team to assess the building.”
Before proceeding to commit funds (state reimbursed or local) for a housing consulting team, perhaps the city should consider other reuse alternatives.
The $1 million price tag for alternative municipal use is still way below the Armory’s current $4.3 million assessment. There are numerous impediments for housing at the Armory, e.g., little parking, very extensive and expensive retrofit, and exterior architectural limitations of narrow limited in number windows. There are other municipal needs and uses vastly less expensive for Armory retrofit, such as an annex to the existing Walnut Street Senior Center (obviating the need for “NewCAL”) or replacement of other city facilities if they are redirected for Senior Center use. Moreover, in addition to the substantial savings in retrofit, it seems a stretch to assume our city’s elected leaders, State Representatives, and State Senator can not negotiate with the state for a significantly less than $1 million price tag, citing needs such as Senior services. There appears to be no legal requirement foreclosing the $1 price tag or other less than $1 million price for non-housing municipal use.
If there are others who agree or disagree with this poster’s assessment of the Mayor “putting the cart before the horse” in proceeding to expend sums for Armory affordable housing without considering alternatives, have at it. And, other suggested reuses of the Armory can be discussed as well.