MassHousing Provides $135.5 Million Financing for 404-Unit Symphony Plaza in Boston

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Symphony Plaza

BOSTON–  MassHousing has provided a total of $135.5 million in financing to an affiliate of the non-profit Retirement Housing Foundation (RHF), to enable RHF to launch a major renovation of the 404-unit Symphony Plaza in Boston, and extend affordability at the property for at least 30 years.

The Symphony Plaza refinancing was completed through the Federal Housing Administration’s Housing Tax Credit Pilot Program. The Tax Credit Pilot Program allows borrowers to utilize federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) in combination with an affordable fast-track mortgage product insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). MassHousing is the only state housing finance agency in the country among 52 FHA-approved Tax Credit Pilot Program lenders.

“This is an important transaction for the low-income seniors living at Symphony Plaza, who will continue to live affordably in Boston’s Back Bay, while benefitting from major property improvements,” said MassHousing Acting Executive Director Tom Lyons. “MassHousing delivers on our mission of confronting the housing challenges facing the Commonwealth to improve the lives of its people, by offering a broad range of tools that allow housing developers to preserve and improve critical affordable housing resources. We are proud to be the only housing finance agency in country able to deliver a financing package like the one preserving affordability at Symphony Plaza.”

Symphony Plaza

MassHousing provided a $74.5 million permanent loan through the Agency’s Multifamily Accelerated Processing (MAP)/Ginnie Mae Joint Venture Initiative with lender partner Rockport Mortgage Corporation. MassHousing also issued $61 million in short-term tax-exempt construction financing, to facilitate the use of federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.

The Tax Credit Pilot Program enabled Symphony Plaza’s owner, RHF, to deploy approximately $14.5 million in tax credit equity toward renovations at the property. The combination of tax credits, with a mortgage insured by the FHA and guaranteed by Ginnie Mae, will allow RHF to make more substantial renovations to Symphony Plaza than would have been possible through conventional MAP financing alone.

The Symphony Plaza transaction also involved approximately $40.3 million in tax credit equity, a $20 million bridge loan from Wells Fargo and an $8.1 million seller note.

Among the property improvements planned for Symphony Plaza are new windows, fire alarm and HVAC systems, significant electrical system upgrades, new entry doors, common area improvements, and upgrades to unit kitchens and bathrooms.

“As the need for affordable housing options for low-income seniors continues to out-pace supply, we are so pleased to be able to work with MassHousing and the rest of the team to ensure that this critical affordable housing resource will be preserved for the long term.  The improvements to the buildings this transaction will allow us to make will improve the quality of life for all of our residents,” said Dr. Laverne R. Joseph, RHF’s President and CEO.

MassHousing offers the MAP/Ginnie Mae loan program to the owners of rental housing through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD approves mortgages in the MAP program for FHA insurance. MassHousing utilizes the program to provide borrowers with lower interest rates, while preserving and extending affordability for low-income senior citizens and families.

Symphony Plaza was built in 1980 as two developments financed by MassHousing – Symphony Plaza East and Symphony Plaza West. The 404-units are contained in 14-story and 16-story buildings at 333 and 334 Massachusetts Avenue near Boston Symphony Hall. There are 116 studio apartments, 260 one-bedroom apartments and 28-two bedroom apartments for senior citizens. One unit is occupied by a property manager.

As a condition of the MassHousing financing, RHF extended to the federal Section 8 Housing Assistance Payment Contracts covering 403 units for 20 years. The allocation of tax credits will ensure affordability at Symphony Plaza for at least 30 years.

The Schochet Companies provided development consulting and its affiliate, Federal Management Co., Inc. is the property manager for Symphony Plaza.