By Jeffrey Steele, Contributing Writer
Boston—In closing $171.2 million in loans for the acquisition, renovation and preservation of affordability at Georgetowne Homes in Boston’s Hyde Park, MassHousing established a new record. The transaction was the largest financing of a single rental development in the 47-year history of MassHousing, as well as the largest preservation of affordable housing in state history.
Georgetowne Homes is a 967-unit property being acquired and rehabilitated by Georgetowne Homes LLC, an affiliate of Beacon Communities LLC of Boston. As a condition of the financing, Beacon Communities will extend two federal Section 8 Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contracts covering 681 apartments, extending their affordability to low-income families.
The use of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits will assure the remaining 286 units remain affordable. MassHousing provided $116.9 million in construction and permanent financing and $52.4 million in bridge financing.
An additional $1.9 million in financing came from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund managed by MassHousing on behalf of the state Department of Housing and Community Development, and $2 million was provided by the City of Boston.
“Preserving and rehabilitating existing affordable housing is much more cost effective than building new units,” MassHousing executive director Thomas R. Gleason tells MHN. “This was an opportunity to preserve the affordability for the long-term of nearly a thousand affordable units for low-income families in Boston, while also making significant upgrades to the apartments and buildings. As the state’s affordable housing bank, we have the unique capability and expertise to complete large affordable housing transactions like Georgetowne.”
The development of Georgetowne Homes took place under a program overseen by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and occurred in two phases in 1970 and 1972. The property consists of 121 one-bedroom, 800 two-bedroom and 46 three -bedroom apartments, which fill 68 two and three-story townhouse and walk-up buildings. Situated on a large, landscaped private site, Georgetowne Homes features playgrounds and a community center.
Planned renovations include new energy-efficient windows and building siding, new air sealing and insulation to reduce loss of heat and air conditioning, and installation of high-performance and energy-efficient heating systems.
The renovation will also provide for numerous accessible units and accessibility improvements to comply with current law.
Suffolk Construction is the contractor, Davis Square Architects the architect and Beacon Residential Management the management agent.
“The support and assistance of MassHousing, HUD, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, and the City of Boston have provided us the resources necessary to modernize Georgetowne so that it will continue to be an outstanding affordable housing community within the thriving Hyde Park neighborhood for decades to come,” Beacon Communities CEO Howard Cohen says.
Adds Gleason: “If this preservation transaction had not occurred nearly a thousand affordable units had the potential to convert to market rate. Now, that the affordability has been preserved, mostly with the long-term extension of Section 8 contracts, Georgetowne will be available to low—income families for many years to come.”