Letter to the Editor: Bedford Needs More Starter Home and Rental Apartments; Carlisle Road Project Would Help

Submitted by Chris Gittins 

Bedford needs more middle-income-affordable homes and apartments.   

Median household income in Middlesex County is $110k.  With that kind of income you might be able to afford a $500k home.  Check the local real estate listings, most homes in Bedford are selling for a lot more than that.  Homes selling for over $1M, which has become par for the course, are affordable to only to the best-off few percent of the population.  Bedford’s housing affordability problem is part of a regional problem: 

Before the pandemic, a family making $100,000 a year could afford to buy 37 percent of homes available in the state. Today that figure is just 12 percent. In metro Boston, it’s just 6 percent, compared with 34 percent nationally.

If you live or work here in Bedford and your household income is <$100k/year what’s your housing situation like?  

Whether you’re a teacher, a public servant, cut hair, wait tables, work in the building trades or for a biotech, if you work here then you should be able to afford to live here too.  People who grow up here should be able to afford to live here after they move out of their parents’ house.  Retirees should have options to downsize.  Reasonably-priced housing drew people to Bedford in the mid-20th century. Allowing middle-income-affordable housing to be built here now, or not allowing it, is a choice that we make for ourselves.  What we choose is a statement about who’s welcome here and who’s not.  

Here’s what’s being proposed for Carlisle Road:

  • 9 single-family homes  (<1,500 sq.ft. each)
  • 16 duplexes (1,000 sq.ft. per unit)
  • 27 townhomes (1,300 and 1,705 sq.ft.)
  • 39 two-bedroom apartments (~1,100 sq.ft.)
  • 45 one-bedroom apartments (708-772 sq.ft.)
  • 3 studio apartments (591 sq.ft.)

That’s a meaningful amount of “missing middle” housing. 

As with any development, we need to establish how the new homes will integrate with our existing infrastructure.  For example, do the existing water and sewer lines on Carlisle Road have sufficient capacity or will they need to be upgraded?  Will we need to hire any additional teachers to accommodate new students?  I look forward to Mr. DeVellis and the Select Board collaborating to address the infrastructure-related issues that need to be addressed.    

Bedford needs more middle-income-affordable homes and apartments.   Please contact the Select Board to express your support.  

Editor’s Note: Gittins is a member of the Town of Bedford Planning Board but speaking for himself in this letter and not the Planning Board

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Madelyn Armstrong
March 12, 2023 9:27 am

I strongly support Chris Gittins’ thoughtful letter. Having lived in downtown Boston and in densely populated immediate suburbs of Boston for many years, when I moved to Bedford 8 years ago, I loved the country feel of the town – trees, grass, lakes, conservation areas, deer in my back yard (even a live opossum once!), seeing and hearing birds other than pigeons. But I also liked the apparent SOUL of Bedford – Inclusive not Exclusive. I hope Bedford will retain that Soul, and trust that the Planning Board and others involved will make that work.

March 13, 2023 4:41 pm

Your comment seems to be contradicting, so you are making my point. I too love Bedford forests and open areas and the very thing we love is being slowly ruined by projects exactly like this one. Two 4 story apartment buildings, 600 people, well over 200 cars on this site is one more step in making the TOWN OF BEDFORD A MEMORY. I don’t see how over $800,000 townhouses on basically no land is inclusive or affordable. Deer should not be in our backyards but are because they are running out of wilderness here. The Select Board and Zoning Board need to not allow such a dense development here and in my view , anywhere in Bedford,

Frank Richichi
February 27, 2023 9:38 pm

As I recall, most of the units are rentals. As a senior downsizing, a 30 year mortgage would imply an unrealistic expectation of my life expectancy. For many of us, young and old, rental is an ideal option.

February 27, 2023 5:08 pm

Chris Gittins did not put the prices for these proposed units in his opinion. According to the LIP application 6 units should be “affordable” . The rest , single family homes start at $815,000 . The 2BR duplexes start at $646,000 . The townhouse units are listed at $707,000 and $816,300 .

Chris Gittins
February 27, 2023 9:12 pm

Per the LIP application dated 12/5/2022, 35 of the 139 units will be Affordable. If the project doesn’t proceed then 0 Affordable units will be built. Anticipated list prices for market rate sales were not provided but Affordable rental apartments will go for 50-75% of market rate.

February 28, 2023 10:08 am
Reply to  Chris Gittins

Of the 87 apartments 22 are “affordable” . Apartments at Avalon Bay go for as much as $4000 a month . As a town this development here is a mistake . Bedford is 4th in rental units in the state. Please watch our meeting Feb. 14 with Devellis at the town web site .

February 27, 2023 9:29 pm

So you’re advocating for more affordable units?

I think the author’s point is that adding more housing stock at lower price points is better than adding a few expensive mansions.

I don’t know if the proposal is good or not. But it’d be awful to clear cut 9 acres for 9 houses.

February 28, 2023 12:43 pm
Reply to  Marc

I am advocating that at this site there is nothing wrong with home ownership of nice houses on a cul de sac .

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