Photo courtesy of DCAMM

State real estate officials are offering Salem State University’s south campus as a redevelopment opportunity including the potential for hundreds of multifamily housing units.

The Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance is seeking proposals for the campus which includes buildings formerly used as student housing, a parochial school and convent.

DCAMM estimates that approximately 11 acres of the 23-acre site are suitable for development.

“We think this is an amazing opportunity to add to our housing inventory and meeting our community’s needs,” Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll said today.

A 2020 planning study by architects Sasaki concluded that the parcels could be redeveloped into up to 400 multifamily units in 2- to 4-story buildings, through rezoning or a Chapter 40B affordable housing process. The site located on Harrison Road and Loring Avenue, is currently zoned for single-family homes.

Only one of the existing buildings is currently occupied, the Harrington Building at 11 Harrison Road, according to the request for proposals issued Wednesday. A former Catholic school acquired by Salem State in 1972, it currently houses several academic programs and should be considered a candidate for reuse, according to DCAMM.

DCAMM will conduct four site visits beginning March 14 and responses from developers are due May 24.

Image courtesy of Sasaki Assoc.

Multifamily housing development has been a political football in Salem in recent years amid Driscoll’s attempts to encourage housing production through reuse of surplus buildings and approval of accessory dwellings. A zoning amendment to require 10 percent income-restricted housing in new developments has stalled at the City Council level, but have been applied through the Planning Coard’s review of projects in recent years.

“It’s been followed on every project of this size and certainly we’d be looking for a minimum of that, and a range of income [levels], knowing our community’s housing needs,” Driscoll said.

Salem State built additional student housing and is consolidating its real estate on its north and main campuses, freeing up the south campus parcels.

The site includes the Bates Student Housing complex, which is currently owned by the Massachusetts State College Building Authority, and will be turned over to DCAMM in May 2022, the RFP states.

Four buildings meet the criteria for listing on the National Register of Historic Places and may be slated for reuse rather than demolition. They include the former Saint Chretienne chapel and convent buildings and a former parochial school.

This week’s offering comes less than a month after the University of Massachusetts Building Authority issued an RFP for 10 acres at the UMass-Lowell East campus for a potential 1.1 million-square-foot mixed-use development.

Housing Developers Sought for Salem State Parcels

by Steve Adams time to read: 2 min