Forest City Celebrates Opening of New England Adaptive Reuse Lofts

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorHaverhill, Mass.–Forest City Enterprises Inc. recently celebrated the opening of the first building at Hamel Mill Lofts, a 305-unit adaptive reuse project in Haverhill, Mass. The community is comprised of three mid-rise buildings, two of which are masonry and the third, brick.Located in an old mill town about 25 miles north of Boston, Hamel Mill Lofts was formerly a leather-tanning factory, says David Levey, executive vice president of East Coast development at Forest City Residential Group and the senior developer on the project. “It keeps with the Forest City philosophy of sustainability and adaptive reuse, when you take an old building that has outlived its intended life and change it to something that people would never have dreamed possible 75 to 80 years ago,” he says. For the community, Forest City utilized historic and low-income housing tax credits. Under this state’s Smart Growth legislation, Forest City has set aside 20 percent of its units for affordable housing, exceeding the 10 percent mandate.The transit-oriented development is located approximately 100 yards from the nearest MBTA stop and residents can arrive in Boston within 20 minutes, though many residents do not work in the city. “They are people that are working in northern suburbs of Boston and southern New Hampshire. We’re marketing for people who don’t want to live in a traditional three-story walk-up where all the walls are white and neat,” Levey tells MHN, adding that the building is for those looking for something more “edgy and funky.”Designed by Boston-based Dimella Shaffer, Hamel Mill Lofts offers three different finish packages and more than 40 floor plans. One- and two-bedroom units, ranging in size from 650 to 1,200 sq. ft., are available for $1,100 to $1,900 per month. Residences feature Energy Star appliances, in-unit washers and dryers, open-beamed ceilings and large windows.Resident amenities at Hamel Mill Lofts include a fitness center, WiFi cafe, media room, landscaped courtyards, on-site parking and a bike storage room. Hamel Mill Lofts is currently leasing, with the first residents moving in earlier this month. Phase two of Hamel Mill Lofts is slated for completion in August 2009.