WinnDevelopment Celebrates $24.2M Mass. Housing Project

The project will transform the 110-year-old Fitchburg Yarn Mill in Fitchburg, Mass., into 96 mixed-income housing units.

Fitchburg, Mass.—WinnDevelopment, the development arm of national property development and management company WinnCompanies, recently celebrated the groundbreaking of its $24.2 million construction project that will transform the 110-year-old Fitchburg Yarn Mill into 96 mixed-income housing units.

Clark Ziegler, Massachusetts Housing Partnership; Dori Conlon, Bank of America; Robert Charest, Boston Financial Investment Management; Gilbert Winn, WinnCompanies; Steve DiNatale, state representative; Lisa Wong, Fitchburg mayor; Chrystal Kornegay, Massachusetts Undersecretary of Housing & Community Development; Fran Colantonio, Colantonio Construction; Thomas Gleason, MassHousing; and, Michael Putziger, WinnCompanies.

Clark Ziegler, Massachusetts Housing Partnership; Dori Conlon, Bank of America; Robert Charest, Boston Financial Investment Management; Gilbert Winn, WinnCompanies; Steve DiNatale, state representative; Lisa Wong, Fitchburg mayor; Chrystal Kornegay, Massachusetts Undersecretary of Housing & Community Development; Fran Colantonio, Colantonio Construction; Thomas Gleason, MassHousing; and, Michael Putziger, WinnCompanies.

The three-story 190,000-square-foot brick mill, located on 7.4 acres along the Nashua River, will be turned into 57 market-rate units and 39 affordable units, 29 of which will be reserved for residents earning 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) or below, and 10 units will be reserved for residents earning 30 percent AMI or below.

The mill was originally home to the Fitchburg Yarn Company, which was one of 16 textile manufacturers in the city.

“This adaptive reuse will take a historic, former industrial building that has been vacant for more than a decade and put it back into service as a community asset that not only will look fantastic and provide a strong mix of housing for people of all income levels, but also will pay property taxes and inject new vitality and consumer investment into the city, ” Larry Curtis, president and managing partner of WinnDevelopment, told MHN.

The Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP), which has provided WinnDevelopment with more than $50 million in loans and commitments for the financing of more than 1,200 apartments, will now provide a $2.8 million long-term loan commitment to the Fitchburg project from its bank-funded loan pool.

“The rebirth of Fitchburg Yarn will become an outstanding example of the public-private cooperation required to transform a once-proud historic property like this into modern community asset,” Curtis said. “We are pleased to have been able to marry together all types of city, state and federal programs in support of new housing and a revitalized downtown for Fitchburg.”

In addition to the groundbreaking ceremony, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker toured the mill and announced that the City of Fitchburg will receive a $3 million MassWorks award to improve the area’s infrastructure, especially along Main and River streets.

The housing project will begin in December of this year and is expected to be completed by May 2017.

A rendering of the Fitchburg Yarn project

A rendering of the Fitchburg project

“We do a lot of business in cities like Fitchburg, cities that are well outside what people consider the urban core, in this case, Boston. Fitchburg Yarn is a great example of a development that just needs a chance. As we get close to completion early in 2017, I have no doubt that we are going to have a fully occupied property,” Gilbert Winn, CEO of WinnCompanies, told MHN.

The new housing will be conveniently located less than one mile from the city’s commuter rail station and Fitchburg State College. Once completed, WinnResidential will manage the property. WinnResidential also manages Fitchburg Place, a 96-unit senior community on Pritchard Street.

“Improving the supply and quality of housing in the central part of the state has always been a focus for the company,” Arthur Winn, founder of WinnCompanies, told MHN. “We pursue opportunities to develop quality housing where they make sense, not necessarily where they are trendy.”

Public financing partners for the development include Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing & Community Development, MassHousing and the City of Fitchburg. Private financing partners include Boston Financial Investment Management (tax credit syndicator), Cherrytree Group LLC, Bank of America (construction lender), Boston Community Loan Fund and MHP (permanent financing). Other housing resources will also support the project, including Federal and State Low-Income Housing Tax Credits from the Baker-Polito administration, Federal and State Historic Tax Credits from the National Park Service and Massachusetts Historical Commission, Affordable Housing Trust, Housing Stabilization Funds, HOME funds, Community-Based Housing, Facilities Consolidation Funds and City of Fitchburg HOME funds.

The architect for the project is The Architectural Team from Chelsea, Mass. and the general contractor is Colantonio Inc. from Holliston, Mass.

In total, WinnDevelopment has completed 28 adaptive reuse projects, transforming historic properties into more than 3,100 mixed-income housing units with an assessed value of $500 million.

Images courtesy of WinnCompanies