Plans for low-income senior housing at former school move ahead in Rockland – The Patriot Ledger

ROCKLAND – One year after the Rockland Board of Selectmen gave its blessing to a proposal that would turn the closed Holy Family School into low-income senior housing, the project is waiting for final approval from the town’s zoning board.

Developer Connolly and Partners LLC of Braintree, which also manages the nearby Spring Gate Apartment Complex, bought the former school building in 2020 from the Boston archdiocese after the school closed abruptly in 2018. The former school is on the same property as Holy Family Church.

The project, called Schoolhouse Apartments, appeared for its first Rockland Zoning Board of Appeals hearing earlier this week.

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The developer’s plan would turn the former school into 27 units of affordable housing for people 62 years old and older. Nineteen units would be restricted to those earning 60% of the median income – $50,750 – according to the 2022 federal income limits. The remaining eight units would be restricted to “extremely low income”  people who earn $28,200 or less. 

Schoolhouse Apartments is being proposed under the state’s Chapter 40B law, which allows developers to skirt local zoning regulations when less than 10% of a community’s housing stock is deemed affordable. 

The project garnered letters of support from nine boards, organizations and politicians, including the board of selectmen and state Rep. David DeCoste.

The Rockland-Abington Joint Waterworks would allow the project to use city water because the building used city water before the project was proposed.

The apartments will cost roughly $11.1 million.

More: Read the developer’s application for a Chapter 40B permit

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Much of the exterior of the building needs to stay the same for the project to get state and federal historical building tax credits, architect Dan Ricciarelli said. Major exterior changes include an entry canopy, landscaping and a ramp.

The building would  get an elevator and the “existing fabric” of the building, including the library, chalkboards, coat closets and other evidence that it was once a school, would remain.

Chairman Rob Rosa said he was concerned the project would take away parking spaces used by the church on Sundays. McKenzie Engineering Group Project Manager Austin Chartier said the developer would reconfigure the parking lot to add spaces and said the church has enough parking spaces under current zoning rules.

The zoning board has asked for a peer review to go over the current plans and wants the developer to provide lighting and construction management plans for the next hearing on the project, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 5.

Aug. 24, 2020: Holy Family Parish to sell school for low-income senior housing

Feb. 19, 2021: Developer asks for blessing to turn Holy Family School into low-income senior housing

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Reach reporter Wheeler Cowperthwaite at wcowperthwaite@patriotledger.com.