- Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development
- Office of Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Announces $4.1 Million MassWorks Award for Gardner Downtown Revitalization
Michael Verseckes, Director of Media and Public Relations
GARDNER — Today, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, and MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera were joined by state and local officials to celebrate the award of a $4.1 million MassWorks Infrastructure Program grant to Gardner. The MassWorks award will fund a second phase of the city’s Rear Main Street Revitalization Project, which will result in 52 new housing units. Also today, the Baker-Polito Administration and MassDevelopment announced the first-ever awards made through the Underutilized Properties Program, which along with MassWorks is now part of the Community One Stop for Growth platform.
The Underutilized Properties Program was created through the Economic Development Legislation signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker in January 2021. The program targets underutilized, abandoned, or vacant properties by supporting efforts that eliminate blight, increase housing production, support economic development projects, or increase the number of commercial buildings accessible to individuals with disabilities. In its first year, the program is funding 20 projects, totaling $7,516,000 in awards. Included among the 20 awards, Mass Ave Rentals LLC is receiving $900,000 to rehabilitate 42-52 Parker Street in Gardner, which will result in 28 new units of market-rate housing.
“The combination of awards from MassWorks and the Underutilized Properties Program will support the creation of much needed housing in Gardner and help revitalize key parts of the city’s downtown,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Congratulations to Gardner, we are pleased to work together to support the city’s vision for a vibrant downtown with more housing, new jobs and increased economic activity.”
“MassWorks and the programs accessed through the One Stop support important local infrastructure projects that attract private investment, spur housing production and create jobs,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “I want to commend Gardner for taking advantage of the new, simplified process established through the One Stop, that allows us to strengthen our support for communities and position them to succeed on their plans for future growth.”
Gardner’s MassWorks award will allow the city to make key improvements to water, sewer, and electric utilities to the Rear Main Street site, which is currently vacant. In addition, the grant will fund stormwater and drainage upgrades as well as a new public plaza and new sidewalks along Rear Main Street, which will include lighting, landscaping, bike racks, and benches. The planned upgrades support the Rear Main Street Revitalization Project, a public-private partnership involving Gardner and developer EA Fish Development LLC, that will result in a mixed-use, 52-unit residential project, with 37 of those units being designated as workforce affordable.
Gardner’s award is part of this year’s round of MassWorks Infrastructure Program Grants announced recently and is included among 56 grants – the largest number of awards in a single year in six years – totaling $66.5 million to 50 communities. Among this year’s MassWorks projects, 29 are reactivating underutilized sites, 27 are supporting transit-oriented developments and 29 have a mixed-use component. Additionally, 14 communities are receiving their first ever MassWorks award.
Including this year’s round, the Baker-Polito Administration has awarded 326 MassWorks grants to 181 communities and has invested over $608 million in public infrastructure projects throughout the Commonwealth. These grants have directly supported the creation of 21,000 new housing units and tens of thousands of new construction and permanent jobs, while also leveraging over $13 billion in private investment.
MassWorks is a competitive program that offers cities and towns flexible capital funding to support and accelerate housing production and job growth and is the largest program in Community One Stop for Growth. Including MassWorks grants, the Community One Stop awarded $88 million to 196 projects in 122 communities across the Commonwealth in its first year. Of the 196 projects awarded, nearly one-third were located in a rural or small town, half were located in a Housing Choice Community, and one-third were located in a Gateway City.
“We created the One Stop to offer access to a wide variety of programs through a single, streamlined process that ensures that valuable funds can be directed more effectively, to more communities, in less time,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “The One Stop gives communities the opportunity to work collaboratively with us, to pursue multiple projects simultaneously and to meet their economic development goals. Gardner has demonstrated how communities can be creative with grant funding to maximize the impact of their investments in public infrastructure. While the first year of the One Stop has shown tremendous promise, the demand for our programs demonstrates that we can do more.”
“This inaugural round of grants will breathe life into 20 underused buildings,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “The Underutilized Properties Program is making a difference in downtowns and town centers across Massachusetts. This $7.5 million in awards will fund capital improvements and predevelopment work to increase occupancy in challenging properties, creating new opportunities for housing, retail, and further economic development.”
“I am very excited to see this project get started in our downtown. This will give new life to an area that has been overgrown and vacant for quite some time," said Mayor Michael J. Nicholson. "This project will help bring people into Gardner, draw them to the downtown, and increase the demand placed on our local businesses. Downtown Gardner will look very different a year from now because of this funding and I could not be happier with the partnerships we have formed with the private sector and the Baker-Polito Administration”
“It’s exciting for the City and Gardner Redevelopment Authority to partner with two private sector developers to increase our market rate and workforce housing inventory in our downtown," said Ronald Cormier, Chair of the Gardner Redevelopment Authority. "This infusion of public and private funds within the Downtown Urban Renewal Area is key to attracting additional future investment in the City and furthering the Urban Renewal Plan goals.”
"This investment is a major win for downtown Gardner. By converting long-vacant lots into housing we are setting up the downtown's shops and restaurants to thrive,” said Senator John J. Cronin. “This grant will spur economic growth and help keep Gardner on the continued track for success. I am grateful to the Governor and Lieutenant Governor for their commitment to the Chair City."
"I'm very excited about these state investments in Gardner,” said Representative Jonathan Zlotnik. “Together they build on our work and past investments to redevelop downtown Gardner. This will continue that effort and present us with more opportunities for further development."
The full list of this year’s MassWorks grant recipients can be found here.
FY22 Underutilized Properties Program Awarded Projects
Brockton Redevelopment Authority, Brockton – $140,000
The Brockton Redevelopment Authority will use this grant to stabilize and weatherize a historic structure at 11-15 Frederick Douglass Ave. to make it attractive and financially feasible for private redevelopment. Due to water penetration, selective demolition and repair of temporary walls and ceilings is needed, along with other critical improvements and repairs, in order to prevent further deterioration.
Hilltown Community Development Corporation, Chester – $670,000
The Hilltown Community Development Corporation recently purchased the former Chester High School at 1 School St., which was converted into 15 units of affordable senior housing in 1987 and also houses the town's library and museum. The building has fallen into disrepair and risks vacancy with the library looking to relocate and residential units unable to be occupied. The Hilltown Community Development Corporation will use this grant to fund repairs to the building’s roof, masonry, heating systems, windows, energy efficiency, and accessibility, allowing the building to maintain and increase occupancy.
City of Chicopee, Chicopee – $125,000
The City of Chicopee will use this grant to advance predevelopment activities for the reuse of the former Chicopee Library at 31 Springfield St. that has been vacant for 20 years. The City plans to convert the building, which sits on the same parcel as City Hall, into an entrepreneurial hub supporting economic endeavors relating to restaurants and creative businesses.
Stationery Factory, LLC, Dalton – $630,000
The Stationery Factory, LLC, which owns the Stationary Factory, a converted industrial building at 63 Flansburg Ave. currently home to more than 20 businesses, will use this grant to prepare space for a new tenant. LympheDIVAS, a local manufacturer of garments designed to provide relief to patients with lymphedema, has outgrown its current facility and is looking to locate in the building and bring 15-20 jobs to Dalton.
285-299 South Main LLC, Fall River – $400,000
Local developer Ramesh Izedian, working closely with the Bristol County Economic Development Consultants and the City of Fall River, will use this grant to rehabilitate a former department store at 285-299 South Main St. into 28 market-rate housing units and two ground-floor commercial spaces.
Fitchburg State University Supporting Organization, Fitchburg – $475,000
The Fitchburg State University Supporting Organization will use this grant for the next phase in the renovation and rehabilitation of the Theatre Block at 689-701 Main St., which includes the reactivation of several long-vacant storefront spaces (ranging in size from approximately 500-2,200 square feet) to accommodate restaurants/cafes, retail shops, art galleries, and studios. Previous progress in the building includes the development of a game design studio and a resource center for local entrepreneurs.
Fitchburg Redevelopment Authority, Fitchburg – $125,000
The Fitchburg Redevelopment Authority will use this grant to bring a vacant 40,000-square-foot building at 200 Boulder Dr. up to code to allow lease-up to private tenants. The grant will fund building code compliance and structural integrity architectural and engineering work.
Franklin Food Pantry, Franklin – $500,000
The Franklin Food Pantry will use this grant to convert an underutilized property into a community food pantry to address social and health disparities. The new location will allow the nonprofit to operate additional hours and increase access to healthy food, and will provide office space for confidential client support.
Mass Ave Rentals, Gardner – $900,000
For-profit developer Mass Ave Rentals will use this grant for the gut renovation of two vacant adjoining buildings at 42-52 Parker St. that will be converted into 28 units of housing. The Gardner Redevelopment Authority (GRA) acquired the buildings in 2017 using a grant from the Commonwealth’s Site Readiness Program; Mass Ave Rentals is working closely with the City of Gardner and the GRA to advance the project.
Lawrence CommunityWorks, Lawrence – $455,000
Lawrence CommunityWorks, a nonprofit undertaking the redevelopment of the 450,000-square-foot Marriner Building at 602-610 Broadway into a mixed-use facility, will use this grant to continue renovating the ground floor into commercial space. Lawrence CommunityWorks is working to redevelop the building’s upper floors into housing; making the ground-floor space tenant-ready will allow for potential additional revenue streams to support the ongoing project. MassDevelopment also provided awards from the Commonwealth’s Brownfields Redevelopment Fund in FY18 ($88,770) and FY21 ($88,940) and Site Readiness Program in FY18 ($50,000), FY20 ($250,000), and FY21 ($135,000) to support redevelopment of the Marriner Building.
Westmass Development Corporation, Ludlow – $250,000
The Westmass Development Corporation will use this grant to make capital improvements to the historic stockhouses within the Ludlow Mills at 100 State St. The stockhouses include approximately 22 one-story, 6,000-square-foot buildings that house small manufacturing businesses, entrepreneurial startups, and other unique entities; the critical capital improvements funded by this grant will make 10 of these buildings more viable for existing and future tenants.
Community Economic Development Center of Southeastern Massachusetts, New Bedford – $775,000
The Community Economic Development Center of Southeastern Massachusetts, which recently lost its previous offices to a fire, will use this grant to rehabilitate the former Capitol Theater at 1418-1440 Acushnet Ave. to house a range of human services, community development programs, small business incubator space, workforce development programs, legal and financial services, and a neighborhood resilience hub on the first floor, as well as affordable housing units on the second floor.
Verdean Veterans Memorial Foundation, New Bedford – $285,000
The Verdean Veterans Memorial Foundation is a nonprofit established to create Memorial Hall, a community center for civic, cultural, educational, and charitable projects that also serves as a home for the Cape Verdean American Veterans Association and an important community hub for the larger Verdean community in New Bedford. The organization will use this grant to fund accessibility and building code improvements at the property, located at 561 Purchase St., including updating handicapped bathrooms and installing a fire sprinkler suppression system.
CT Management Group, Pittsfield – $250,000
For-profit developer CT Management Group will use this grant to advance the adaptive reuse of a dilapidated fire house at 231-235 Tyler St. into four units of market-rate housing.
City of Revere, Revere – $130,000
The City of Revere will use this grant to retrofit a municipally owned facility at 196-200 Winthrop Ave. into the Revere Food Hub, which will house food service programming including a commercial kitchen and workspace, an urban farming and hydroponics lab, classrooms, a farmers’ market, and a drive-through food pantry. Grant funds will upgrade the building’s HVAC, electrical, and fire systems and accessibility accommodations.
49-53 Main Street, LLC, Taunton – $225,000
Small business owner Jose Bejarano will use this grant to renovate a 12,000-square-foot building at 49-53 Main St. to support future tenants, including improving the building’s HVAC system and accessibility accommodations and ensuring code compliance.
Workshop13, Ware – $6,000
Workshop13 is a nonprofit arts organization that serves the Quaboag Hills region in a restored former church at 13 Church St. that is operating as a performing arts venue, art studio space, recording studio, and office space. Workshop13 needs to increase capacity to remain sustainable, including by offering additional classes and workshops, increasing performance audiences, and attracting private events. The organization will use this grant to design a sprinkler system and fund architectural plans and code review to support its expansion.
Town of West Springfield, West Springfield – $200,000
The Town of West Springfield is working with the nonprofit Irish Cultural Center of Western New England to develop the fourth floor of the organization’s existing facility at 429 Morgan Rd. into a performance and banquet center, and will use this grant to fund accessibility improvements.
Architectural Heritage Foundation, Worcester – $475,000
The nonprofit Architectural Heritage Foundation will use this grant to rehabilitate the historic Worcester Auditorium at 1 Lincoln Sq. into a state-of-the-art digital innovation, education, and skills-training center. Grant funds will support the demolition of the water-damaged interior and the abatement of mold, lead, and asbestos, work that will allow the organization to bring potential investors into the property and spur additional investment.
Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston, Worcester – $500,000
The nonprofit Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston will use this grant to renovate a former Boys Club at 2 Ionic Ave. into the Creative Hub Community Arts Center, a multi-use arts center with a complementary affordable childcare program within the building.