×

Northampton housing project lands $5M in state funds, credits

  • A URB2 warm white LED light, left, glows beside a URB1 white light, center, and a URB2 white light on Pleasant Street, Thursday.



@JackSuntrup
Tuesday, January 10, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — Gov. Charlie Baker’s office announced Tuesday another state funding commitment that boosts an effort to construct a 55-unit affordable family housing complex on Pleasant Street.

The Department of Housing and Community Development will direct $1.79 million in federal and state low-income housing tax credits and $3.3 million in other agency funds toward the project, Baker’s office said in a release.

Tuesday’s news is on top of a November announcement of $2.5 million from MassWorks to go toward the removal of a storm drain under the building at 256 Pleasant St. and street improvements.

The 55-unit complex with 5,300 square feet of retail space is a project of the Valley Community Development Corp.

“The tools we are bringing to bear in Northampton, in public infrastructure and affordable housing funding, will allow this city to create a dynamic new entrance to its downtown, while opening up new housing options for families,” Baker said in a statement.

The project calls for construction of a four-story, 69,785-square-foot building at the old Northampton Lumber site. It had been stalled because a storm drain under the property needs to be moved.

Valley CDC Executive Director Joanne Campbell said the group is “elated” by the funding announcement. She said work by the city to remove the conduit under the site could go well into the summer. She expects construction to start in September, with units to be available to rent by January 2019.

The $20 million project is being buoyed by the government as well as private entities, she said.

In January 2015, the City Council approved a $300,000 Community Preservation Act grant. In addition, Campbell said, the city has pledged another $200,000 in community development block grant money toward the project. That’s on top of $100,000 from the Smith College affordable housing fund, she said.

Campbell said the $1.79 million in state and federal low-income housing tax credits could generate up to $13 million in equity. With the other $3.3 million announced Tuesday, and another $2.8 million in private loans Valley CDC is seeking, the group is in a good position to move forward, Campbell said.

“The MassWorks grant was key to getting our project funded,” Campbell said. “That really laid the groundwork for the department (Department of Housing and Community Development) to fund our project.”

Mayor David Narkewicz said Tuesday he was pleased with Tuesday’s news.

“It’s great to see it finally cross the finish line in terms of receiving these state funds to be able to move the project forward,” he said.

Campbell said the maximum a family of three could earn in a year and still be allowed to rent would be between $37,000 and $45,000 a year. In addition, 11 units will be set aside for families mired in more extreme financial circumstances — they could earn up to $22,500 per year and still qualify, Campbell said.

A second affordable housing complex, spearheaded by HAPHousing, is under construction at 129 Pleasant St. That project will bring another 72 affordable units to the city.

Contact Jack Suntrup at jsuntrup@gazettenet.com.