Their concerns are understandable-- Longhill Gardens was incredibly mismanaged; the apartments were not maintained; in the last years of their current life, crime plagued the buildings and the neighborhood.
The WinnCompanies' proposal to buy and rehabilitate the buildings for "affordable" housing is being interpreted by some as an opportunity for the worst elements of the buildings' old life to recur. But it doesn't have to be that way.
A mixed income renovation seems to be what WinnCompanies has in mind. The project will be designed for those earning 60% of the median income. Using 200 census figures, 60% of the median income for a family would be about 22,000-- not rich by any means, not even middle-class, but I'd say solidly working class-- families don't bring in that much money on public assistance or Social Security.
Some thoughts for the Civic Association to ponder:
- -- Every abandoned home on a street drives down the value of other homes by 6 to 7%.
- -- Springfield lost more than 1,200 units of housing in the 90's. How can we be the City of Homes without housing?
- -- Forewarned is forearmed. With the Civic Association in discussion with WinnCompanies from the beginning, neighborhood needs are much more likely to be addressed.
The city has had more than its share of bad property managers. Here's hoping the city and the neighborhood thoroughly research WinnCompanies' properties; here's hoping it's a good match for Springfield.
Photo: Oak Grove Village, Melrose, WinnCompanies.