Engine 6 Accomplishments
At Engine 6, we focus our work in two main areas: supporting the permitting of new housing throughout the city and proposing changes to local housing and zoning policies to encourage the construction of housing that is affordable and sustainable. Click here to go to the policy section.
Successful New Housing Advocacy
Engine 6 has been instrumental in persuading the City Council to issue Special Permits for mixed-use (housing and retail), mixed-income developments and the Zoning Board of Appeals to issue Comprehensive Permits for mutifamily buildings under Chapter 40B.
Engine 6 presses developers to provide deeper levels of affordability and increase the number of three bedroom affordable units because they are suitable for families.
We work in partnership with other community groups who also understand that building more housing will make Newton a more diverse community while helping to address climate change. Local environmental groups, like Green Newton and 350 Mass Newton Node, also push developers to make the buildings more sustainable.
Click here to find out about new housing that is in the permitting process that Engine 6 supports.
28 Austin Street
Across the street from the Star Market in Newtonville, this project was permitted in 2015 after more than three years of hearings before the City Council’s Land Use Committee. Engine 6 led a coalition, The Friends of Austin St., which advocated for the project including organizing supporters to testify before countless Land Use Committee hearings. Built on an underutilized, run-down city parking lot, the new development has 68 apartments, including 23 deed-restricted affordable units. A cafe and toy store are on the ground floor and a beautiful plaza on Bram Way provides much needed space for gatherings. It also includes a municipal parking lot with the same number of spaces as in the original lot. Residents moved into the apartments in the fall of 2019.
At the site of the Turtle Lane Community Theater in Auburndale, this mixed-use, mixed income project was initially approved in 2016. It will contain a restored theater, office space and 16 condominiums, with 2 deed-restricted affordable units. The project was stopped due to issues with construction that need to be fixed. New Land Use hearings began in fall 2023 to approve changes needed.
This senior housing development is named to honor the Reverend Howard Haywood, a tireless leader for affordable housing in Newton. Developed by the Newton Housing Authority this project located in Nonantum will contain 55 one-bedroom units for elders (62 and older). 32 units are for very low and extremely low income residents and 23 are for residents at 80% to 99% AMI. Haywood House was completed in early 2023 and is now fully occupied.
Golda Meir House
After plans for supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals in the historic Engine 6 firehouse were squashed by the City, Engine 6 housing supporters filed a complaint with HUD alleging unlawful discrimination against persons with disabilities and violation of the Fair Housing Act.
Engine 6 won a Conciliation Agreement requiring the City to create permanent supportive housing for the same number of chronically homeless individuals.
This new housing is included in the new Golda Meir addition that opened in Fall 2023. There is a total of 68 units in the addition – 57 are age restricted and 9 are designated for individuals with disabilities who have experienced chronic homelessness. The 9 units also include supportive services. 60 units will be permanently affordable, including many at the 30% AMI and 50% AMI tiers.
This mixed-use project is under construction on a 22 acre site on Needham Street. After more than 2 years of hearings before the Land Use Committee, it was approved by the City Council in 2019 and upheld by the voters in a Referendum on March 3, 2020. It will have 800 rental apartments with 140 deed-restricted affordable units. at least two of the apartment buildings will be Passive House construction, the highest level of sustainability. It will include retail and commercial space. Forty percent of the site will be open space. A stringent traffic management plan will be coupled with a free shuttle bus to the Newton Highlands MBTA stop, which will run every 15 minutes 16 hours a day/ 7 days a week. Under construction.
Alée on the Charles
Alée on the Charles was completeed in 2023 and residents are moving in. Located in Nonantum, along the Charles River, the project was permitted under Mass. law Chapter 40B. There are two buildings with a total of 204 apartment. 51 are deed-restricted affordable at 80% AMI. The project also includes office space and retail with a public courtyard and access to the Charles River. The residential units are all electric.
Dunstan East will be built on Washington Street in West Newton. A Chapter 40B project approved by the Zoning Board of Appeal. It consists of three mixed-use buildings. A total of 292 rental apartments including 73 deed-restricted affordable units, 10 of which will be permanently reserved for households earning 50% AMI or less. The ground floor will have retail space. Extensive landscaping and a new boardwalk behind the property overlooking Cheesecake Brook behind the property will create inviting open space. The buildings will be LEED Gold Certifiable and the residential portion of the buildings will be all electric. With new ownership it is now under construction as of early 2024.
1149-1151 Walnut St.
Located in the heart of Newton Highlands across the street from the Newton Highland MBTA station, this four-story mixed-use project will contain 25 rental units with 5 deed-restricted affordable units and retail space on the ground floor. The housing will be smaller units, averaging 1000 sq. feet, with 23 parking spaces. These apartments are designed for smaller households that are car-free or car-light. With new ownership, the project is under construction.
1114 Beacon St.
Located in Newton Four Corners, this four-story building will have 34 rental units with 6 deed-restricted affordable units. Sustainability features include solar panels. Walking distance to two MBTA Green Line stops: Newton Centre and Newton Highlands. Under construction as of 2024.
145 Warren St.
Crafts St. Elder Housing
West Newton Armory
Located on Washington St. in West Newton, this project was approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals on January 11, 2023. The project will have 43 units and will be 100% affordable. This was made possible because the City of Newton was able to purchase the building from the State for One Dollar. The project will preserve the historic headhouse and convert it into office, gallery, and community space. Of the 43 units, 28 will be available to households earning 60% of AMI and 15 units fo households earning 30% AMI. The project will house both seniors and families, creating an intergenerational community. Five units will be fully accessible. The sustainability features include building to Passive House standards for the residential units, solar panels and a fossil fuel free infrastructure. The site is within walking distance of the commuter rail and buses. Resident services will be offered on-site. The project is waiting for approval of financing.
1314 Washington Street
Located in the heart of West Newton, this former bank building will contain 50 residential units and a restaurant on the first floor. Nine of the units will be deed-restricted affordable: 4 units at 50% AMI, 4 units at 80% AMI and 1 unit at 110% AMI. In addition, the developer will make a cash payment of $195,000 to the City in lieu of a fractional unit pursuant to the City’s Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance. The sustainability features include certifiable at LEED Gold Sustainability Standard; a feasibility study on meeting Passive House Design Metrics; all electric residential units; preservation of part of the existing iconic building; wood frame construction to reduce embodied carbon; EV chargers. The project is close to MBTA bus lines and the West Newton Commuter Rail station. Adding housing and a restaurant in West Newton will increase its vitality and provide more foot traffic for its businesses.
Located off Needham St. across the street from the larger Northland project, this development will have 370 apartments. It was permitted in fall 2023 under Chapter 40B. Therefore, 25% of the units, 93 apartments will be affordable – 19 at 50% AMI and 74 at 80% AMI. The community benefits and mitigation fees include $900,000 for water and sewer, $750,000 for the Countryside School, $750,000 for the Braceland Playground and $1 million for the Christina St. pedestrian and bike bridge over the Charles River. It will be all electric and designed to Passive House high efficiency standards.
Sunrise of Chestnut Hill Senior Housing
Located on Rt. 9 in Chestnut Hill, this housing development was approved in fall 2023. It will provide residential care and facilities for seniors with 120 beds for both assisted living and memory care. It will have 6 inclusionary units. It is designed to meet Enterprise Green Communities (EGC) Green Building standards; 10% of parking will have EV chargers and 10% will be EV charger ready.
Successful Policy AdvocacyIn addition to supporting new housing projects, Engine 6 has been deeply involved in advocating for changes to local housing and zoning policies that will enable more housing and could increase the diversity of residents. To date our efforts have included: Changes to the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance:
- Increasing the number of affordable units required: Engine 6 supported the changes to the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance in 2018. These changes increased the percentage of deed-restricted affordable units. Close to 500 affordable units have been permitted since then.
- Reducing local preference for affordable units: In order to increase the racial diversity of Newton, Engine 6 successfully advocated for reducing the local preference for new affordable units to 25% from 70%. Before the change, the 70% local preference for the affordable units was a major contributing factor to the lack of racial diversity of the tenants.
- In 2017, Engine 6 successfully advocated for amendments to the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Ordinance to make it easier to build these smaller units for extended family or for rental income.
- In 2022, Engine 6 successfully advocated for additional changes to the ADU ordinance to allow some detached ADUs to be built by right.