NORTH ANDOVER — A Boston-based firm is taking steps forward to redevelop the 77-acre Royal Crest Estates on Route 114 into a mixed-use property with more housing, retail space, restaurants and a hotel.
"It's a very large piece of land and is underutilized," said Jim Keefe, a principal executive at Trinity Financial, the company working on the Royal Crest redevelopment.
Trinity Financial has not filed any formal plans with the town, but has been working with town officials on the multi-step process to create a zoning overlay district to allow for the multi-use development. Voters would have to approve the changes to North Andover's zoning at a special Town Meeting in the fall.
The developers contend the project would be a gain for the town because of potential tax revenue, but also an increased number of affordable housing units and fixes to water issues that plague the area, they said in an interview with The Eagle-Tribune.
This week Trinity Financial presented a financial impact analysis to the Planning Board that reported the estimated $436 million proposed redevelopment would create an $8.5 million increase in tax revenues per year for the town. The estimated costs for North Andover associated with the added number of residents — such as emergency service response and added students in the school system — is about $1 to $2 million, according to the developer's analysis.
"We've felt very confident for some time that the project will be a real benefit to the town," said Michael Lozano, vice president of development for Trinity Financial.
On Tuesday members of the Planning Board asked the developers to contrast those numbers with how much the current apartments cost in services and how much they bring in with tax revenue. Lozano said the company is working to get back with those numbers.
Once the fiscal impact analysis and zoning changes are approved by the Planning Board, the board would then write a proposed zoning warrant article to present to the Select Board.
Royal Crest as it stands now has 588 units that are mostly two and three-bedroom market-rate apartments. Keefe said that configuration of units is a relic from when it was built in the 1970s and that more people are now looking for smaller, more affordable housing.
"People are still living at home with their parents because they cannot afford, nor do they need two and three-bedroom apartments," Keefe said. "So we are making housing more accessible to those who need it" by building smaller units.
Across Massachusetts, towns and cities are supposed to have about 10% of their housing designated as 40B, which is mixed-income housing that includes affordable apartments for people who make less than 80% of the median salary in town, according to planning laws. However, North Andover, like many other communities falls short.
Lozano says their project would be able to get the town over the 10% obligation.
Trinity Financial's plans call for more than 1,000 apartments in the redevelopment. Of that, 385 would be 40B units, 135 would be age-restricted apartments for people 55-years and older, and 250 apartments will be designated for Merrimack College.
Lozano said the college would be an important partner for the developers because they have a built-in demand for housing and the proposed hotel.
Plans for the development would also coincide with state work on Route 114 to make it safer and more efficient.
Currently, there are about 1,600 people living at Royal Crest, Lozano said. That number is expected to more than double with the development plans. According to Trinity Financial's traffic study, the state's improvements to Route 114 would be able to handle the added traffic.
If approved this year, developers would break ground in 2023, Lozano said. They will build in a phased-in approach until about 2030 to create minimal disruption for current residents, he said.