Affordable Community Breaks Ground Near UMass Amherst

Fountain Residential Partners and HC2 Capital are developing the 150-unit property in Sunderland, Mass., which will include 38 homes for lower-income residents. The project is located just north of the UMass Amherst campus.
North 116 Flats. Image courtesy of Fountain Residential Partners

Fountain Residential Partners and HC2 Capital have broken ground on a 150-unit housing community in Sunderland, Mass., that will cater to students as well as local families and workforce residents. The property, North 116 Flats, will include 38 units of affordable housing and is located at 653 Amherst Road, just north of the town of Amherst and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst campus.

READ ALSO: Affordable Boston-Area Community Receives $82M Loan

Construction of the property designed by Stuart Roosth Architects is scheduled for completion by summer 2020. Western Builders is constructing the project. The 18-acre property will provide units ranging in size from one- to three-bedrooms, with in-unit washer/dryers, and will include an 8,000-square-foot clubhouse complete with a gym and yoga studio.

North 116 Flats is being developed in conjunction with the quasi-governmental Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency (MassHousing) and Chapter 40B, the state’s affordable housing program. MassHousing approved a first mortgage loan of up to $27 million to Fountain Residential for the project in March. The property will earmark 25 percent of its units for qualified households earning no more than 80 percent of the median area income.

New England style

Benchmark Development is serving as project manager, after playing a key role in finalizing the entitlement process. The site was previously owned by a local development consortium that had spent more than a decade entitling the property, according to a statement by the duo that is building the community.

Plans submitted to the town’s zoning board last year call for a community with five residential buildings three stories tall and a one-story clubhouse, according to an account in the Daily Hampshire Gazette. The residential buildings, each of which is slated to hold 30 apartments, will have a “New England look” with cultured stone and architectural asphalt shingles.

In a statement, multifamily developer Fountain Residential and real estate private equity firm HC2 Capital indicated that the new property would serve the Pioneer Valley region of Massachusetts and the Five College Consortium, a cluster of nearby liberal arts colleges plus UMass Amherst, which has nearly 30,000 students. They noted that there is a strong need for affordable housing in the Amherst/Sunderland market, where there is very little new construction and barriers to entry are extremely high. 

The two firms previously teamed up to develop 8FOUR8 Mitchell, a 298-unit student housing community in Austin, Texas, that can accommodate nearly 700 students near the University of Texas at Arlington.