28 Austin Street offers 68 mixed-income units in Newton, Mass.
Courtesy Dinosaur Capital Partner 28 Austin Street offers 68 mixed-income units in Newton, Mass.

The recently completed 28 Austin Street development uses modular construction to bring new workforce housing options to Newton, Mass.

The project transforms a former municipal parking lot by using GreenStaxx modular building technology to create a 68-unit mixed-income housing community with retail space, a public plaza and a playground, and reconstructed municipal parking.

28 Austin Street is a public-private partnership between Austin Street Partners, a joint venture of Dinosaur Capital Partners and Oaktree Development, and the city of Newton.

“28 Austin Street was the first rental housing permitted in Newton, a city of 87,000, in over 12 years,” said Scott Oran, managing partner of Dinosaur Capital Partners. “When, at the last minute, the Newton City Council required 33% of the apartments be affordable or workforce housing, it threatened the financial viability of the project. While excited to increase the affordable and workforce housing stock, we worried about our ability to attract equity and debt financing. Gov. Baker’s Workforce Housing Initiative was crucial in creating a viable project and increasing urgently needed workforce, affordable, and market housing, in greater Boston.”

MassHousing provided Austin Street Partners with $1.3 million in affordable housing financing from its Workforce Housing Initiative. The funding was structured to close upon completion of the housing. Eastern Bank provided $25.7 million in construction and permanent financing.

“This project offered Oaktree’s companion firm GreenStaxx the opportunity to demonstrate the potential quality, flexibility, and speed of utilizing our modular system,” said Arthur Klipfel, president of GreenStaxx. “The units were constructed in Canada and trucked to the site and assembled in a matter of weeks. We hope the success of this project will encourage the use of this emerging technology to meet the demand for green and more affordable housing in our state and even nationally. We strongly support these efforts.”

Twenty-three of the new apartments are workforce housing units restricted to households earning at or below 80% of the area median income (AMI). The remaining 45 apartments are rented at market rates. The AMI for Newton is $113,300 for a household of four. MassHousing’s financing involved the development of 13 of the 23 workforce housing units, all of which have been leased and are occupied.

There are 33 one-bedroom and 35 two-bedroom apartments. The residential and retail building has a 90-space underground parking garage, and the former parking lot was reconstructed with 124 public spaces.

Since the inception of the Workforce Housing Initiative in 2016, MassHousing has committed or closed workforce housing financing totaling $96.8 million, to 47 projects, located in 21 cities and towns. To date, the initiative has advanced the development of 3,933 housing units across a range of incomes, including 1,070 workforce housing units.

28 Austin Street was designed by Stantec and GreenStaxx and constructed by NEI General Contracting. The management and marketing agent is the Nordblom Co.