MassHousing has closed on a total of $25.2 million in affordable housing financing to WinnCompanies for the development of 125 new rental homes in downtown Lowell. The MassHousing financing will allow WinnCompanies to advance the redevelopment of Lowell’s Hamilton Canal Innovation District, while creating new housing for households across a broad range of incomes, including 54 new workforce housing units.
WinnCompanies will construct the 125 new mixed-income apartments in two connected five-story buildings spanning Canal Street. The project site, Parcels 8 and 9 of the Hamilton Canal Innovation District, is a former mill complex along the Lower Pawtucket Canal across from downtown Lowell that has sat vacant for decades.
The City of Lowell designated WinnCompanies as developer of Parcels 8 and 9, as part of the City’s broader effort to revitalize the 17-acre master-planned district.
“MassHousing is pleased to be a partner with WinnCompanies and the city of Lowell in this effort to transform two vacant and underutilized parcels into an exciting new housing community,” said MassHousing Executive Director Chrystal Kornegay. “By creating homes for households across the income spectrum, from very-low income households, to middle-income families and market-rate renters, this project helps ensure that families of all means will be able to share in the revitalization of downtown Lowell.”
“This development will be a true mixed-income community, offering a mix of affordable, middle-income and market rate units that support local and state housing goals, as well as Lowell’s desire to stimulate economic activity downtown. This strong public-private partnership provides a model for how we can expand access to quality housing in underserved communities going forward,” said WinnDevelopment President and Managing Partner Larry Curtis.
MassHousing is providing WinnCompanies with a $20.2 million taxable permanent mortgage and $5 million from the Agency’s Workforce Housing Initiative to support the creation of 54 middle-income workforce apartments.
Other project financing includes a total of $16.8 million in state and federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) equity. The tax credits were allocated by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and syndicated by Bank of America. DHCD is also providing approximately $3.1 million in financing and the city of Lowell is providing $750,000 in CDBG financing. The project is also receiving $3.5 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which MassHousing manages on behalf of DHCD, and approximately $395,000 from the MassSave Residential New Construction Program, which will support the project’s HVAC systems and building envelope that were designed and selected to reduce the project’s carbon emissions and maximize long-term energy efficiency goals.
Of the 125 apartments, 11 units will be restricted to households earning at or below 30 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) and will be supported by federal project-based housing vouchers, 15 apartments will be restricted to households earning at or below 50 percent of AMI, and 13 apartments will be restricted to households earning at or below 60 percent of AMI. The 54 workforce apartments will be restricted to households earning at or below 100 percent of AMI and 32 apartments will be rented at market rates. The Area Median Income for Lowell is $108,000 for a household of four.
The development will feature 15 studio apartments, 63 one-bedroom apartments, and 47 two-bedroom apartments, as well as an indoor recreational area, an outdoor courtyard, a roof deck and a small commercial space. The complex will be designed, built and operated to achieve stringent energy performance goals, including certification through both Energy Star Homes and Enterprise Green Communities. Construction is expected to be completed by June 2022.
The development of Parcels 8 and 9 advances the Baker-Polito Administration’s goal of creating up to 1,000 new workforce housing units affordable to middle-income households through MassHousing’s Workforce Housing Initiative. Since the inception of the initiative in 2016, MassHousing has committed or closed workforce housing financing totaling $99.7 million, to 45 projects, located in 21 cities and towns, and advanced the development of 4,030 housing units across a range of incomes, including 1,095 workforce housing units.
The Hamilton Canal Innovation District is a collection of 17 parcels master-planned to transform the primary gateway of downtown Lowell. Located a half mile from the Lowell Connector with direct access to Route 495 and Route 3, residents also will be within walking distance of downtown retail businesses, a commuter rail line and bus routes served by the Gallagher Intermodal Terminal.
MassHousing has financed 14 rental housing communities in Lowell involving 2,198 housing units and $253.8 million in original financing. The Agency has additionally provided $254.6 million in home mortgage financing to 2,327 Lowell homebuyers and homeowners.