Waltham Armory - Affordable Housing
The Waltham State Armory, otherwise known as Company F State Armory, was built in 1908 and designed by Hartwell, Richardson, and Driver. The building is now listed under the National Register of Historic Places and was sold in 2014 to Heritage Hall LLC4. The property was sold by the State in 2004 and has been vacant for several years.
Community Need and Community Support
Recent housing data reveals a need for more affordable housing options in Waltham. As of 2016, there were 900 units available for families in the 30% income bracket (local AMI) but 3,705 families in this housing bracket. Additionally, only 1,895 units were available for the 50% income bracket, leaving a housing deficit of 275 units. This shortage of housing demonstrates the pressing need for increased affordable housing options. Based on the findings of the feasibility study, the Armory could be restored as a new affordable housing option for Waltham residents by adding permanently affordable units.
The inadequate supply of affordable housing for low-income families is among the most prevalent community health concern related to housing. If a family cannot afford to pay rent, they are forced to divert their resources from other necessities, such as food, clothing, and healthcare. Families who cannot afford housing will be driven away from Waltham and lose contact with family members and important community resources that Waltham specifically provides. A lack of affordable housing can result in residential instability, overcrowding, and homelessness.
In addition to the need for more affordable housing options in Waltham, the community’s persistent interest in and support for past affordable housing projects including the inclusionary zoning law and public hearings related to affordable housing suggest widespread support for inquiries into converting existing properties into affordable housing. Furthermore, WATCH held a community meeting about the Armory property where most neighbors were in support for a feasibility study. Based on our recent canvassing efforts in the neighborhood, there is widespread support for this initiative. Of the 23 households we spoke to in the surrounding area of the Armory, 74% were in favor of it being used for affordable housing.
Waltham Armory Housing Feasibility Study
In June 2020 a feasibility study was compiled by Meander Studio Collaborative Design for Metro West Collaborative Development and WATCH CDC. This study aims to investigate the feasibility of converting the Waltham Armory to affordable housing. Because the property is listed on the National Historic Register which, limits the modifications of the building that can be implemented, this report recommends a program of unit mixes that could be accommodated inside of the building with nominal modifications to the exterior of the building. The study concluded that although there are several constraints and deficiencies that will require time and coordination to address, there is a clear path to the creation of approximately 23-25 units of affordable housing in the Waltham Armory. Progress will require a partnership with the owner, City, State Dept. of Housing and Community Development and the Mass. Historical Commission.
To view this study in detail click here.
Many nearby towns are investigating similar proposals. For more information on these proposals see below.
- Lynn Armory: The Lynn Armory is set to be converted into affordable housing for veterans.
- Newton Armory: The City aims to convert the Newton Armory into affordable housing units.
- Hudson Armory: The town is considering their options for uses for the Hudson Armory.