Manchester-by-the-Sea is located around 30 miles north of Boston on historic and scenic Cape Ann. With its quaint downtown, picturesque beaches and harbor, and handsome sea captains’ homes, the town was a fashionable summer resort community as early as the mid-1800s. Summer residents and visitors have included not only wealthy Bostonians, but also presidents, princes, and ambassadors.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and Manchester-by-the-Sea remains a popular summer resort community, as well as a commuter suburb of Boston. However, the town has a shortage of affordable housing for local workers, young singles and families, and downsizing retirees. Taking an active stance to address this, Manchester-by-the-Sea’s Board of Selectmen – the town’s governing body – voted to award $600,000 in bond funds to help pay for the Summer Street development.
Summer Street has brought both much-needed affordable housing and greater vitality to downtown Manchester-by-the-Sea, with a design that maintains the look and feel of the historic coastal community. The project replaced three dilapidated and structurally unsound buildings with six new buildings; a 21-unit apartment building was also rehabilitated. Summer Street has a total of 39 housing units, which are a mix of market-rate and affordable units, as well as for-sale and rental units. The project also includes new retail space – a fish store, coffee shop, and beauty salon – with residential condos above. The development is located across the street from the local commuter rail station to Boston.
Summer Street was developed by a for-profit developer in partnership with a community-based housing organization. The development team secured public support for the project by actively engaging the community in the design process. Early in the process, every household in the town – more than 2,000 in total – received a pamphlet with information about development options for the site.
Summer Street has garnered numerous awards, including citation by the Sierra Club as one of America’s Best New Development projects. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which honored the project with an award, noted, “This project demonstrates that the challenge of preserving affordable rental housing and producing new affordable homeownership in an affluent community can be met with a combination of a committed community-based housing organization, a sophisticated for-profit developer, local and state bond financing, [and] high quality site planning and building design.”