BOSTON– WinnCompanies, a multifamily development and management company, joined with Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, state and Lowell city officials to unveil plans for a $38.3 million residential construction project in the Hamilton Canal Innovation District, a collection of 17 parcels master-planned to transform the primary gateway of downtown Lowell.
Building on vacant, side-by-side parcels separated by Canal Street, WinnDevelopment will create two five-story buildings with 125 apartments and 5,000 square feet of commercial space. It will be a true mixed income project – 54 workforce apartments will rent at 100% of Area Median Income (AMI); 39 units will be affordable up to 60% of AMI; and, 32 apartments will rent at market rates.
“We’re pleased to be moving ahead with a development featuring a sizable component of workforce housing, which seems appropriate for the city seen as the cradle of the Industrial Revolution in America,” said WinnDevelopment President Larry Curtis. “This project will add a new twist to our long track record of delivering innovative mixed-income, mixed-use communities that contribute to the vitality and the economy of Lowell.”
The Lowell City Council cleared the way for the project on Tuesday night, unanimously voting to approve Urban Center Housing Tax Increment Financing (UCH-TIF) under a new state program designed to promote multi-family housing in urban centers. Construction is expected to begin in late December 2019 and be completed in December 2021.
“These are fun places to live. There’s a lot going on. There’s a vibe in the downtowns of these old industrial cities because of this collaboration and the willingness of all of you to take the chance, to take the risk, and move forward,” said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. “This is a best-of-everything project because you a mixed use project combining commercial and housing together, but it’s also mixed income. To have workforce housing, affordable housing and market rate housing all together is a really great accomplishment. It’s something to the core that WinnCompanies fully embraces.”
Construction will be financed with equity generated by Bank of America’s purchase of federal and state Low-Income Housing Tax Credits; a construction loan from Bank of America; a first mortgage and Workforce Housing funds from MassHousing; financing from the Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development under the state’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Housing Stabilization Fund and HOME program; financing from the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation in the form of the Facilities Consolidation Fund and the Community-Based Housing program; Opportunity Zone investment and developer equity from WinnCompanies; and, funds from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and MassSave, both dedicated to advancing energy efficiency and clean technology.
The City of Lowell is supporting the project with HOME program funds, the UCH-TIF plan, and infrastructure investments in and around the 51,000-square-foot site.
“The City has made significant investments to put in place the infrastructure needed to support private development in the Hamilton Canal Innovation District. We are pleased that WinnCompanies has put forward a project that will capitalize on these investments and that will help meet the demand for more safe and energy-efficient housing in Lowell in a way that will also stimulate commercial growth in this key area,” said City Manager Eileen Donoghue. “This announcement marks the continuation of a positive partnership between WinnCompanies and the City that has been successful in developing high quality projects that advance our economic development goals.”
WinnDevelopment Project Director Matthew Curtin will lead the development team, which features Keith Construction; ICON Architecture; landscape architect Copley Wolff Design Group; interior designer Wolf in Sheep Design; civil engineer Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. (VHB); and, structural engineer Odeh Engineers. Deirdre Robinson, a partner at Sullivan & Worcester, serves as legal counsel for the project.
“I am thrilled to see additional private investment in the Hamilton Canal Innovation District. Bringing mixed-use developments to this area is important to ensure that our downtown continues to grow and thrive into the future,” said Lowell Mayor William Samaras.
The development will offer 15 studio apartments, 63 one-bedroom apartments and 47 two-bedroom apartments. The two residential buildings will be linked to each other by an enclosed sky bridge spanning Canal Street, a nod to Lowell’s history when similar connectors joined industrial mill buildings. The sky bridge will also compliment the new signature bridge the city recently built over the lower Pawtucket Canal.