Presidential Apartments conflict resolved

By Kathrine Esten

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

A deal has been reached between the owners of Amherst Presidential Village and Amherst’s town building commissioner to comply with town regulations concerning low-income residents.

The regulations concerned in the agreement stipulated that six units in the Presidential Apartments must be set aside for tenants earning a maximum of 80 percent of the area median income. As reported previously in The Daily Collegian, Amherst Building Commissioner Robert Morra informed Allen Cohn, manager of Amherst Presidential Village LLC, that if the units were not made available by late October, he would face fines of $100 a day per unit as long as the property is in violation of town housing policy.

The new compliance agreement, recently signed by Cohn and Morra, sets a series of dates by which six apartments will be available, and strategies for compensating those who were supposed to have moved in to the North Pleasant Street complex by Sept. 1, according to coverage in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Thomas Reidy, attorney for the project, said that the first affordable apartment became available Nov. 7 and the remaining units are expected to be ready next month.

“We expect to be in full compliance by Dec. 21,” Reidy said in an interview with Mass Live.

Under the arrangement, provided in an email from Thomas Reidy of Bacon Wilson, LP, who represents Cohn, Presidential Apartments made a one-bedroom apartment available in early November. The first two-bedroom apartment will be ready for occupancy Dec. 15, with the second two-bedroom apartment available Dec. 21. A three-bedroom apartment will become available “as soon as possible, but not later than Feb. 28, 2018.”

The initial lottery for affordable housing was first described in the July 13 issue of the Amherst Bulletin.

“Families seeking affordable housing in Amherst can apply to live in apartments with rents below fair market…For one bedroom, the rent would be $824 per month for heat and hot water, about $250 less per month than market rate apartments. For two bedroom rent would be $1,016 for heat and hot water, approximately $500 less per month, and for the three bedroom units, with just hot water, $1,142, or about $800 less per month.”

In an interview with The Amherst Bulletin in the initial controversy, Cohn said he pledged to offer the affordable apartments to qualified residents as soon as possible, but couldn’t do so immediately, barring unforeseen departures of current tenants. He added that he may have grounds to appeal any fines stemming on the timing of the lottery.

As reported by Scott Merzbach of the Daily Hampshire Gazette, “Because most tenants will not be able to move in for a few weeks, the agreement gives those who qualify through the lottery the option, while waiting, to have Presidential locate suitable replacement housing, with Presidential paying a portion of the rent, or to have Presidential pay for a portion of the rent that will allow individuals or families to stay at their current homes.”

Kathrine Esten can be reached at [email protected]