Re:posted from Mass Housing Partnership newsletter
Lawrence: LCW transforms mill into new housing
December 21, 2011
LAWRENCE — In this mill city’s ongoing quest to preserve its history and spark an economic renaissance, one constant has been Lawrence CommunityWorks (LCW). From working with residents, new immigrants and young people to engaging with civic leaders on big picture issues like stabilizing neighborhoods, LCW has been the city’s steady and consistent conscience for over 20 years.
So it was no wonder that more than 100 people came to Lawrence earlier this month to celebrate the grand opening of Union Crossing, LCW’s ambitious $40 million redevelopment of one of the city’s old mill buildings into 60 new affordable rental homes and 19,000 square feet of commercial space.
“Not that many years ago, it would have been unimaginable to have a nonprofit do a project like this,” said MHP Executive Director Clark Ziegler at the Dec. 13 grand opening. “Not that many years ago, it would have been unimaginable to have a nonprofit working in partnership with the city to attract millions of dollars in investment. This is a milestone in community leadership and we’re delighted to be a part of it.”What LCW has done is tackle the first phase of redeveloping the massive Southwick Mill complex, a set of three buildings that used to produce materials for Brooks Brothers suits up until a few years ago when Southwick moved to new facilities in Haverhill.
Having already worked to help change the zoning so that mill buildings could be redeveloped into mixed-use properties, LCW stepped up and tackled the biggest development challenge in its history, redeveloping one of the Southwick buildings into commercial space on floors one and two, and 60 units of affordable housing on the third, fourth and fifth floors.
“The leadership of Lawrence CommunityWorks brought the entire community into the process of rebuilding this neighborhood and they have proved that the power of collaboration is the way to get things done,” said Greg Bialecki, the Patrick Administration’s secretary of housing and economic development.
The $23 million housing aspect of Union Crossing was supported primarily through federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and federal historic tax credits awarded by the state. TD Bank North and the federal government’s Tax Credit Assistance Program (TCAP) invested in the tax credits. The Massachusetts Housing Investment Corp. was the tax credit syndicator.
MHP used its privately-funded loan pool to provide a $1.5 million first mortgage commitment and a $600,000 second mortgage from Home Funders, a program MHP offers to help developers make more rental homes affordable to lower-income families making less than 30 percent of area median income.
Union Crossing also received strong support from the City of Lawrence, which provided $930,000 in federal HOME funds. Additional support was provided by MassDevelopment, the federal government’s Environmental Protection Agency, the state Office for Energy and Environmental Affairs, The Life Initiative, the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation, NeighborWorks America, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston and Boston Community Capital.
Union Crossing features three one-bedroom apartments, 30 two-bedroom apartments and 27 three-bedroom apartments, all affordable to families below 60 percent of median income or no more than $53,700 for a household of four. Twenty of the apartments will be set aside for families below 50 percent of median and 12 apartments are for families below 30 percent of median income (no more than $26,850 for a household of four).
Union Crossing is located within a quarter mile of the city’s bus terminal and is within walking distance of downtown. LCW Co-Director Jessica Andors said that energy efficiencies will result in the building using 50 percent less energy than the typical redeveloped mill building.
Andors served as master of ceremonies and took the time to introduce and express LCW’s heartfelt thanks to every organization that supported Union Crossing. Also speaking for LCW were project manager Maggie Super, board president Sandra Mouzon, and board member Armand Hyatt, who pointed out that the grand opening coinciides with the 100th anniversary of the Bread and Roses Strike, another significant occasion in the history of this mill city and its people.
In addition to the funders, public officials speaking at the event included Mayor William Lantigua, state Sen. Barry Finegold, state Rep. David Torrisi and June Black, aide to U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas. Former state Sen. Susan Tucker was also recognized for her support as was former LCW executive director Bill Traynor, now a strategic advisor to LCW.
This is the second loan MHP has made to LCW. In 2006, it committed $230,000 in first mortgage financing and a $750,000 second mortgage for Farnham Court, which involved the acquisition and rehabilitation of 11 rental units in four multi-family buildings in a south Lawrence neighborhood hard-hit by foreclosure.
For more information about Union Crossing and MHP’s financing programs, contact Senior Loan Officer Amanda Roe at 617-330-9944 x273.