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An Innovative Housing Solution

An Innovative Housing SolutionTufts, Medford agree on plan to convert a closed school building into housing for low income families and faculty members.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [12.10.01] When the City of Medford put one of its old school buildings up for sale, Tufts made a unique proposal -- the University would turn the building into an apartment complex to provide housing for both low income residents and University faculty members. And the town couldn't be happier.

"The City of Medford and Walnut Hill Properties [a nonprofit affiliate of Tufts that manages property for the University] last month signed a purchase-and-sale agreement under which the company will acquire the former Hillside elementary school for $801,000 and convert it to 12 apartment units," reported the Boston Globe. "The agreement provides that three of the units will be set aside for at least 30 years as affordable housing, with first preference given to Medford residents."

Revenue generated from the sale is slated to be used to fund Medford's school rebuilding program.

In exchange for the building, Walnut Hill agreed to pay taxes on the property, provide off-street parking for the future tenants and refurbish a World War II monument located on the site.

According to the Globe, Medford residents who have worked on the building sale say they are pleased with the outcome.

"John J. Woods, a member of a committee that is assisting with the sale of the old schools, said the Hillside housing concept is an innovative idea that could serve as a model for similar ventures in other communities with colleges and universities," reported the newspaper.

Praising the inclusion of low-income housing in the proposal, Woods told the Globe that the deal continues to strengthen Tufts' relationship with Medford.

"I think this is a great step in the right direction," he said. "[Affordable housing] is incredibly important, given the skyrocketing housing costs. Even though it's only three units, it sends a very loud message [about the importance of affordable housing]."

Medford Mayor Michael McGlynn agreed.

"The Hillside [proposal] was a perfect example of how the process can work," McGlynn told the Globe.

And the renovated building will expand the housing options Tufts can offer new faculty members.

"Tufts is competing with other institutions to get the very best and brightest faculty," Bruce Ketchen -- Walnut Hill's general manager -- told the Globe. "And housing is part of the consideration that goes into making the decision to come to a school like Tufts."

Though the school building will begin a new life as an apartment complex, it will likely remain a center of learning.

"The whole concept of faculty living in the neighborhood provides a potentially great role model for families that might be living in these units," Woods said in the Globe's article.

Ketchen agreed. "[The combination of local residents and faculty] is a wonderful concept. It provides for great opportunities."

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