For Immediate Release - September 07, 2017

Baker-Polito Administration Celebrates $1.8 Million Peabody Square MassWorks Infrastructure Project

PEABODY, MASS. – Today, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash joined Peabody Mayor Edward Bettencourt, Senator Joan Lovely and Representatives Thomas Walsh and Theodore Speliotis to celebrate the completion of the Peabody Square Reconfiguration Project. The project was supported by a $1.8 million Massworks Progam grant to revitalize Peabody Square.

The MassWorks grant, awarded in 2014, provided funding for infrastructure improvement such as new lighting, pedestrian crosswalks, and new outdoor dining space for restaurants to spur economic development and revitalize the downtown. The project is consistent with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council’s MetroFuture Plan.

“The revitalization of Peabody Square through targeted infrastructure upgrades speaks to the flexibility and power the MassWorks program provides our communities to meet local needs,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “MassWorks allows us to work closely with municipal partners to leverage existing assets and create new opportunities for job creation and economic growth in our downtowns.”

“Our administration is eager to continue to support local efforts to increase private investment and economic activity in their downtowns, creating thriving hubs for residents to live, work and play,” said Lt Governor Karyn Polito. “I want to congratulate Peabody on their comprehensive efforts through MassWorks projects, zoning changes and planning to make Peabody Square an attractive destination for residents and small businesses.”

Peabody Square has been a focal point for redevelopment and received a previous MassWorks award in 2011 for $1.5 million for the Peabody Main Street Corridor Realignment Project which also supported the downtown revitalization efforts. In 2015, Northfield Properties acquired 14 parcels of land for $8.3 million in order to modernize and upgrade the 124 apartments and commercial space. An additional $10 million is being invested in the downtown through various projects that will result in 31 units of luxury housing, new restaurants and a new black box theater in the downtown.

The Main Street Corridor is a major regional thoroughfare with over 26,000 vehicles and 2.5 times average truck traffic traveling through daily.  This grant leverages $270,000 contributed by the City and was completed in 2013.

“Our cities and towns understand the need to invest in their main streets and downtowns to capture economic potential and Peabody is making great strides to do so,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “We are committed to working with our local partners to pursue innovative strategies to help communities attract private investment, small businesses and new residents with programs that provide technical assistance and flexible resources.”

“The Peabody Square Reconfiguration Project has helped to start the process of transforming downtown Peabody,” said Senator Joan Lovely. “These infrastructure investments have beautified the area, improved the streetscape and lighting, and increased both pedestrian and vehicular safety. This project, along with zoning changes and strong leadership within the City, has already begun to spark interest in the redevelopment of underutilized properties in the downtown. The future is bright for this area and I’d like to commend the Baker Administration, Secretary Ash and City leadership for having a clear vision for the future of downtown Peabody.”

"Downtown Peabody is a more pedestrian friendly and aesthetically pleasing area due to the collective efforts of Secretary Ash, the Baker Administration, my colleagues in the House and Senate, Mayor Bettencourt and local Peabody officials,” said Representative Thomas P. Walsh. “We are grateful for the assistance and look forward to continuing this partnership for years to come."

“This is an important day in the history of Peabody that sends a strong signal to everyone that downtown Peabody is open for business,” said Representative Ted Speliotis. “This shows that we’ve aggressively addressed the traffic issues and the flooding concerns so now we can begin to modernize and rebuild our downtown to meet the needs of today’s business and residential communities.”

Both public infrastructure projects are a part of a broader effort to spur private investment and development in the downtown business and residential area. Once hampered by flooding issues, the City developed a flood mitigation plan and secured nearly $18 million in bonds through FEMA’s Flood Mitigation Program to address this issue.

In conjunction with new zoning code, Downtown Peabody is becoming more attractive for developers, retailers and businesses in the North Shore. Pedestrian access and traffic management will invite growth and investment along the corridor’s new streetscape, inviting development to the historic but vacant or underutilized buildings in the downtown.

“Thanks to the MassWorks program we were able to redesign Peabody Square, further streamline downtown traffic and create a more pedestrian and business friendly cityscape.  This project continues the momentum started by our Main Street redesign project which was completed in 2013 also utilizing MassWorks funds,” said Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt. “Our aggressive pursuit of public dollars to finance significant infrastructure improvements has caught the attention of private investors.  In the past two years alone, developers purchased several key downtown parcels with ambitious plans to inject millions of dollars of economic development into the very heart of Peabody.   The combination of public and private investment is critical to continue downtown Peabody’s resurgence and help reach its potential as a thriving hub of people, culture and commerce.”   

The MassWorks Infrastructure Program provides a one-stop shop for municipalities and other eligible public entities seeking public infrastructure funding to support housing production, economic development, and job creation. Since 2015, the Baker-Polito Administration has awarded over $190 million to 90 projects in communities throughout the Commonwealth.

In August 2016, Governor Baker signed An Act Relative to Job Creation and Workforce Development (H.4569) to reauthorize MassWorks and support $500 million of future investment in critical infrastructure, a significant commitment by the Commonwealth. The Baker-Polito Administration has increased MassWorks funding by $35 million over the past two fiscal years.

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