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February 23, 2024

Mason Street multifamily housing developers slash number of proposed affordable units

A seven-story apartment building Photo | Courtesy of Worcester Planning Board | Rendering by LYFarchitects of Andover A proposed housing development on Mason Street in Worcester

A proposed 94-unit, seven-story apartment building on Mason Street in Worcester originally set to be entirely composed of affordable units will now only contain 15% affordable units, following a change of plans made by the project’s developers.

Updated documents submitted to the Worcester Zoning Board of Appeals uploaded to the City of Worcester's website on Feb. 1 described the decision to reduce the amount of affordable units in the building by 85%, but did not offer any details explaining why the original plan of making all of the units affordable was abandoned.

The apartments, which are set to be built on a vacant plot of land at 48 Mason St., were first proposed in the spring of 2023. The proposed building will contain a mix of one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom units, with 66 parking spaces for residents and guests.

The project is being proposed by Kensington Management, a Worcester-based apartment rental, management, and investment firm that currently owns at least ten other properties in the city. 

Affordable units are apartments set aside for renters who have annual earnings that are 80% or less than the area median income. The City’s inclusionary zoning law, passed in the spring of 2023, requires all newly-constructed housing developments of twelve units or more to set aside either 15% of units set aside for those making 60-80% of the AMI, or 10% of units for those making less than 60% of the AMI. 

Mark Borenstein of Worcester law firm Bowditch & Dewey, LLP is representing the developer. He declined to comment on the reduction of affordable units when contacted by WBJ via email on Thursday. 

An email to Kensington Management from WBJ went unanswered. 

A 2022 report from the Worcester Regional Research Bureau found a large number of renters in Worcester, more than 50%, are cost-burdened, meaning they pay more than 30% of their income towards rent.

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