Affordable, Energy Efficient Homes Unveiled At Cambridges’s Trolley Square

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Trolley Square, a newly constructed affordable housing development at the intersection of Cameron and Massachusetts avenues in North Cambridge, will soon become home to 40 low-income families. Enterprise Community Partners joined Homeowner’s Rehab, Inc., the Mayor of Cambridge, local officials from the Department of Housing and Community Department, MassHousing, Cambridge Housing Authority, Citizens Bank of Massachusetts and future residents at the grand opening celebration today.

HRI’s goal was to create affordable, energy efficient, healthy homes for Trolley Square residents. The 40-unit, mixed-use development, formerly the storage facility for Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority electrical buses, consists of 32 rental units (4 one-bedrooms, 22 two-bedrooms and 6 three-bedrooms). Residents living in the rental portion can benefit from a project-based subsidy. Meanwhile, eight first-time homebuyers will move into their three-bedroom townhomes in December.

Trolley Square is a unique smart growth development. The property includes 2,800 square feet of commercial/community space and a landscaped plaza above an underground parking garage. Linear Park, the nation’s second busiest bike path, is adjacent to Trolley Square and links residents to rail and bus stations. In addition, the city of Cambridge is planning to construct a 4,000 square feet park next spring.

“Trolley Square was one of the first developments in the country to receive Green Communities funds,” said Enterprise Chairman, President and CEO Bart Harvey. “This property will help ensure smarter, healthier homes are available to Cambridge families with limited incomes while protecting the environment.”

Enterprise provided support to Trolley Square’s development team, Mostue & Associates Architects and Columbia Construction Company, through its Green Communities initiative. The Natural Resources Defense Council and Enterprise launched Green Communities to build more than 8,500 affordable homes across the country that deliver significant health, economic and environmental benefits for low-income families and communities within five years. 

“Trolley Square is a symbol of what we can achieve when a nonprofit, the neighborhood and public and private sectors join forces to better serve our community,” said Jane Jones, senior project manager of Homeowner’s Rehab. “The mission of HRI is not only to produce quality affordable housing for our residents, but also to create energy efficient homes that do not negatively impact the environment and at the same time help reduce monthly bills and operating costs.”

Enterprise provided a $50,000 grant to help support the development of Trolley Square with its “green” features, including energy efficient appliances, light fixtures and photovoltaic (solar) energy system. The energy and resource efficient building systems also include the use of recycled and recyclable materials such as insulation, ultra low-flow plumbing fixtures, linoleum and carpeting.

In July 2005, officials from MassHousing, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and Enterprise announced the Massachusetts Green Communities initiative to encourage developers to incorporate environmentally friendly green building techniques in their projects. Similar to Trolley Square, the Massachusetts Green Communities developments are being built to the Green Communities Criteria. Uniform standards in building design and construction, public health, smart growth and environmental protection have proven to provide cost-effective building strategies for developers. 

Key financing was provided by the city of Cambridge, Citizen’s Bank, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation, NeighborWorks America and the Cambridge Housing Authority.

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