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WATERTOWN, MA-The city is preparing for an onslaught of proposed housing projects that could make it immune to future Chapter 40B projects under a new threshold established by the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development.

The first proposal involves a reuse of a commercial/industrial site at 555 Pleasant St. Beacon Cos. wants to raze two structures on the 13-acre parcel and develop five new buildings for 375 units. The project is not being filed under Chapter 40B, the state’s affordable housing law, which allows projects with 25% affordable housing in a town or city that has less than 10% affordable housing to bypass local zoning laws. Instead, according to Gregory Watson, director of Watertown’s community development and planning department, the project is required to have a 10% affordable housing component under the town’s recently adopted inclusionary zoning ordinance.

But Watson tells GlobeSt.com that because the city and the developer are working together under the state’s local initiative project–which was created to encourage that kind of cooperation–the town will get credit toward its state affordable housing requirement for the 188 units being proposed to be built in the project’s second phase.

The second proposal involves 264 housing units on the property adjacent to 555 Pleasant St., which is currently vacant and was once a parking lot for Raytheon employees. The project is being proposed by Lincoln Properties under the state’s Chapter 40B affordable housing law.

But Watson points out that while the two projects still don’t enable Watertown to hit the 10% affordable housing mark, it enables the city to get to meet another threshold that was created for densely developed communities in which at least 1.5% of the city’s land area that can be built is dedicated to affordable housing.

The city is currently looking at two proposals submitted in response to its request to redevelop the former Coolidge School located at the intersection of Arlington and Mount Auburn streets. The first proposal, from Watertown Community Housing in a joint venture with Keen Development, involves 38 mixed-income apartments. The other, submitted by Mitchell Properties, involves 42 units of senior housing.

Watson says that both proposals are currently being evaluated and a recommendation will be made to the town manager shortly. The decision also requires the approval of the city council.

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