Town To Buy White Street Property For Affordable Housing

The Nantucket Affordable Housing Trust has struck a deal to purchase an undeveloped 2.8-acre lot at 8 White Street in Surfside from Donald and Alpine Bird for $1.2 million. 

The members of the trust will vote today on whether to ratify the purchase and sale agreement to acquire the property. If they approve the deal, the land will be dedicated for year-round housing in some form that has yet to be determined. 

“This is one of those things where all the stars miraculously came into alignment,” said Tucker Holland, Nantucket’s municipal housing director.

Holland said Thursday that the Birds reached out to him about the property following a presentation he gave at the Surfside Association’s meeting several years ago regarding the island’s affordable housing crisis. 

“Rather than having it become a luxury estate, they would love to see this go for the purpose of serving the year-round community,” Holland said. 

The Birds will be selling the property under the IRS’s so-called “bargain sale” program in which a property is sold to a qualified organization, typically a charity or non-profit, for less than the property’s fair market value in exchange for tax benefits. In the case of 8 White Street, a recent appraisal pegged the property at $2 million, Holland said, so the town will be getting it at a significantly reduced price while the Birds will reduce the tax implications of the sale. 

How will the property be developed? It’s still so early in the process, there is no formal plan yet. But Holland outlined a potential scenario that could be considered. 

“There are a variety of different ways we could go here, and it’s early in the process, but conceptually one of the things we think could be interesting there is it may be a great site for an initial project with the community land trust,” Holland said, referencing a new affordable housing program the town is exploring. “When that is formed, we could be creating ownership opportunities at a variety of income levels. The idea would be to do something that is appropriate in scale and provides sufficient buffering. It’s a forested, undisturbed site, so we would want to retain the natural buffer that exists there and do something in the theme of Monomoy Village, perhaps not the same density, but in terms of the types of buildings and the scale of things, that might be close.”

Funding for the acquisition will come from funds already approved for affordable housing initiatives in the so-called “Neighborhood First” program, or from the $6.5 million bonding authorization approved within Article 10 of the most recent Town Meeting.

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