Baker-Polito Administration Awards $19.8 Million for Housing in Worcester’s Historic Central Building
Project brings 55 units of new mixed-income housing to Worcester’s downtown
Worcester, MA – June 28, 2017 – Today the Baker-Polito Administration announced a $19.8 million funding commitment for the redevelopment of Worcester’s historic Central Building. The commitment, from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and MassHousing, enables the transformation of the vacant downtown Worcester property into 55 units of mixed-income rental housing.
“Our administration is committed to working closely with cities and towns to achieve their local goals for affordable family housing and job creation,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These housing funds will support the continued growth and development of Worcester’s downtown community.”
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito announced the financing commitment at an event in Worcester today, alongside Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development Chrystal Kornegay, MassHousing Executive Director Tim Sullivan, Worcester City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr., Representative Joh Mahoney, Worcester Business Development Corporation President Craig Blais, and real estate developer Kathryn Krock.
“This exciting project will further Worcester’s downtown revitalization, transforming a vacant property into new mixed-income housing, and enlivening a key block on Main Street,” said Lieutenant Governor Polito. “Our robust partnership with Worcester’s local leadership is helping to strengthen Central Massachusetts. Together, we are creating affordable housing for at-risk residents, creating new jobs in biopharmaceutical manufacturing and robotics, and remaking downtown Worcester, from CitySquare to the Theatre District.”
Led by Kathryn Krock, Kevin Parvin, and Aaron Krock, the Central Building Development Group is launching an ambitious redevelopment of the Central Building, a vacant former office building located on a prominent block of Main Street in Worcester. The historic structure, built in 1925, is being converted into 55 units of rental housing, with ground-floor retail space.
The Commonwealth is supporting the redevelopment of the Central Building through an allocation of low-income housing tax credits, an allocation of project-based Section 8 vouchers, and $3.25 million in affordable housing subsidy from DHCD. MassHousing has committed a $3.18 million permanent mortgage to the project, as well as $1.4 million from the agency’s workforce housing Opportunity Fund. The City of Worcester is contributing $1.2 million in local affordable housing funds to the project.
“Across the Commonwealth, we look for opportunities to collaborate with our partners to turn challenges into assets,” said Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Chrystal Kornegay. “The redevelopment of the Central Building will bring new housing to Worcester’s downtown and complement the city’s ongoing efforts to revitalize Main Street. We’re proud to partner with MassHousing and the City of Worcester to support this transformative project.”
The Central Building redevelopment advances the Baker-Polito Administration’s goal of creating up to 1,000 new workforce housing units affordable to middle-income families and households, through MassHousing’s $100 million Workforce Housing Initiative. Fourteen of the 55 new housing units at the Central Building Street will be workforce housing units, affordable to middle-income households earning up to 70 percent of area median income.
Since opening the $100 million Workforce Housing Initiative last year, MassHousing has committed or closed workforce housing financing totaling $33.5 million, to 14 projects, located in 10 cities and towns. To date, the Workforce Housing Initiative has advanced the development of 1,285 housing units across a range of incomes, including 363 workforce housing units.
“MassHousing’s Opportunity Fund is a powerful tool for meeting the varied housing needs of communities across Massachusetts,” said MassHousing Executive Director Tim Sullivan. “Here in Worcester, our Workforce Housing Initiative funds are helping bring new life to a vacant property and create housing opportunities for moderate-income households. The Workforce Housing Initiative has been deeply impactful in building affordability for working families in a diverse set of locations, from Gateway Cities, to suburban communities and Boston neighborhoods.”
The Central Building funding commitment builds on $2.3 million in public infrastructure work in Worcester’s downtown, funded by the MassWorks Infrastructure Grant program, and awarded by the Baker-Polito Administration last fall. The streetscape improvement project will build a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly downtown environment that encourages private investment. The public infrastructure improvements, which are expected to begin in July, include the Central Building block.
“The Central Building is an iconic structure on Main Street that has for too long been underutilized,” said Worcester City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. “The investments by the Department of Housing and Community Development and MassHousing as well as $1.2M in HOME funds from the City of Worcester will restore this historic building and continue the revitalization of North Main Street.”
“My family and I are thrilled to be part of the restoration of Worcester’s Main Street to its former glory while adding badly-needed mixed-income housing to the downtown,” said Kathryn Krock of the Central Building Development Group. “As a lifelong resident of Worcester with a particularly strong connection to this street, it is especially exciting to be a part of its rebirth. We are very grateful to the City of Worcester and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, without whose long-term support and financial assistance this project would not be possible.”
“Today is a great day for downtown Worcester. This announcement is not only a win for Worcester, it’s a win for historic preservation and, most importantly, a win for workforce housing along our Main Street corridor,” said WBDC President Craig Blais. “The successful redevelopment of 332 Main Street is a critical piece of the puzzle in promoting economic development and neighborhood revitalization within Downtown Worcester. We are proud to be part of this development team that will help to place a once vacant property within our downtown back into an active use for our community.”
“The Central Building has been a prominent part of downtown Worcester since 1925,” said Senate Majority Leader Harriette L. Chandler. “This project would significantly revitalize the city by bringing businesses and consumers back into the area, and I look forward to seeing a key property along Main Street go back into active use.”
“The Central Building has always been a prominent and historic part of our city, and these funds will contribute to its much needed redevelopment,” said Representative John Mahoney. “I have always been an advocate for this project and I applaud the state for this significant commitment. It will complement various investments that are in development on Main Street and will support the continued revitalization of downtown Worcester.”
In April, Governor Baker filed a housing bond bill seeking $1.287 billion in additional capital authorization to advance the administration’s commitment to affordable housing. Last May, the administration unveiled a 5-year capital budget plan that includes a $1.1 billion commitment to increasing housing production, an 18 percent funding increase over previous funding levels. The $1.1 billion capital commitment provides for significant expansions in state support for mixed-income housing production, public housing modernization, and affordable housing preservation. The housing bond bill filed today provides the authorization to fully fund this capital expansion.
Since 2015 the Baker-Polito Administration has provided direct funding to create and preserve over 3,500 units of affordable housing across Massachusetts.
MassHousing (The Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency) is an independent, quasi-public agency created in 1966 and charged with providing financing for affordable housing in Massachusetts. The Agency raises capital by selling bonds and lends the proceeds to low- and moderate-income homebuyers and homeowners, and to developers who build or preserve affordable and/or mixed-income rental housing. MassHousing does not use taxpayer dollars to sustain its operations, although it administers some publicly funded programs on behalf of the Commonwealth. Since its inception, MassHousing has provided more than $20 billion for affordable housing. For more information, visit the MassHousing website at www.masshousing.com, follow us on Twitter @MassHousing, subscribe to our blog and Like us on Facebook.