Affordable Community to Replace Former MA Mill

MassHousing closed on $17.1 million in financing for the development of a 102-unit affordable housing community in Lawrence, involving the preservation of a former industrial property and remediation of a brownfield site.

By Laura Calugar

A rendering of the Van Brodie Mill conversion in Lawrence, Mass.

A rendering of the Van Brodie Mill conversion in Lawrence, Mass.

MassHousing has closed on a total of $17.1 million in financing for an affiliate of Trinity Financial Inc. Trinity will use the financing for the construction of a new, 102-unit affordable housing community in Lawrence, Mass. The project will be an adaptive reuse of the historic Van Brodie Mill. TD Bank will provide some $35 million of construction financing, as well as a $14 million letter of credit.

The project will breathe new life into four adjacent land parcels within the city’s 34-acre Arlington Mills Smart Growth Overlay District, near the border of Methuen, Mass. The site also consists of two interconnected buildings, a former incinerator building, a water pump house and a parking lot. Aberthaw Construction will be the contractor, ICON Architecture will be the architect and Trinity Management will serve as the management agent.

Transformational project

Van Brodie Mill is Trinity Financial’s first project in Lawrence. The company will preserve the former industrial site, while remediating a brownfield site. Built almost a century ago by the Arlington Mills Co., the Van Brodie Mill originally manufactured yarn for wool and flannel. When complete, the new property will consist of eight studio apartments, 25 one-, 56 two- and 13 three-bedroom apartments.

“This transformational project will put a former brownfield back into productive use, while advancing regional economic development and enabling families to live affordably and prosper in greater Lawrence,” said MassHousing Acting Executive Director Tom Lyons, in a prepared statement.

Of the 102 new units, 16 will be for very low-income households earning at or below 30 percent of the area’s median income (AMI), 67 will target households earning at or below 60 percent of AMI, and 19 will be for households earning between 61 and 80 percent of AMI, which in Lawrence and the surrounding area is $87,600 for a family of four.

Complex financing

Funding for the project came from a mix of sources. An allocation of state and federal low-income housing tax credits from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will generate nearly $29 million in equity financing for the project. Federal and state historic tax credits will contribute an additional $8.4 million of equity. The project also received $2.3 million through the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which MassHousing manages on behalf of DHCD.

Red Stone Equity Partners is the tax credit syndicator and had provided more than $37 million in tax credit equity to support the redevelopment project and the entire partnership. Architectural Heritage Foundation is the project’s nonprofit lender and historic consultant.

The transformation of this area is in line with the Baker-Polito administration’s intention to create up to 1,000 new workforce housing units for middle-income households through MassHousing’s $100 million Workforce Housing Initiative. In another recent deal, MassHousing arranged a $10.1 million permanent loan and a $12.5 million bridge loan through JP Morgan Chase, on behalf of Just-A-Start, for the acquisition and renovation of affordable apartments in Cambridge, Mass.

Images courtesy of MassHousing

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