Officials break ground on Lumber Yards Apartments project in Northampton

  • Holyoke street remains closed while the work continues on the Valley CDC's Lumber Yard housing project in Northamtpon. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash speaks to about 70 people at a ceremonial ground breaking for The Lumber Yard Apartments affordable housing project at the former Northampton Lumber Company site on Pleasant Street on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Lionel Romain, Director of Housing for Central and Western Massachusetts at Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation, speaks at a ceremonial ground breaking for The Lumber Yard Apartments affordable housing project in Northampton on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Valley Community Development Executive Director Joanne Campbell, left, speaks to about 70 people gathered at the former Northampton Lumber Co. site on Pleasant Street for a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Lumber Yard Apartments affordable housing project on Wednesday. Seated in front row are, from left, Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, left, Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, Lionel Romain, Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation Director of Housing for Central and Western Massachusetts, and Way Finders President and CEO Peter Gagliardi. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Way Finders President and CEO Peter Gagliardi speaks at a ceremonial ground breaking for The Lumber Yard Apartments affordable housing project in Northampton on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Valley Community Development Corporation executive director Joanne Campbell speaks at a ceremonial ground breaking for The Lumber Yard Apartments affordable housing project at the former Northampton Lumber Company site on Pleasant Street on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. Seated in front row are, from left, Way Finders President and CEO Peter Gagliardi, Lionel Romain, Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation Director of Housing for Central and Western Massachusetts, Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz and Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, left, Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, Valley Community Development Executive Director Joanne Campbell and Lionel Romain, Director of Housing for Central and Western Massachusetts at Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation, attend a ceremonial ground breaking for The Lumber Yard Apartments affordable housing project on Pleasant Street in Northampton on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • About 70 people gathered at the former Northampton Lumber Company site on Pleasant Street for a ceremonial ground breaking for The Lumber Yard Apartments affordable housing held by Valley Community Development Corporation on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Officials gather for a photo at the former Northampton Lumber Company site on Pleasant Street during a ceremonial ground breaking for The Lumber Yard Apartments affordable housing project on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke street remains closed while the work continues on the Valley CDC's Lumber Yard housing project in Northamtpon. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Holyoke street remains closed while the work continues on the Valley CDC's Lumber Yard housing project in Northamtpon. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Holyoke street remains closed while the work continues on the Valley CDC's Lumber Yard housing project in Northamtpon. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Holyoke street remains closed while the work continues on the Valley CDC's Lumber Yard housing project in Northamtpon. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Holyoke street remains closed while the work continues on the Valley CDC's Lumber Yard housing project in Northamtpon. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Diana Szymal, with Massachusetts Representative Peter Kocot's office, and Lionel Romain, Director of Housing for Central and Western Massachusetts at Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation, make their way to a ceremonial ground breaking for The Lumber Yard Apartments affordable housing project held by the Valley Community Development Corporation at the former Northampton Lumber Company site on Pleasant Street on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz welcomes about 70 people to a ceremonial ground breaking for The Lumber Yard Apartments affordable housing project at the former Northampton Lumber Company site on Pleasant Street on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash speaks to about 70 people at a ceremonial ground breaking for The Lumber Yard Apartments affordable housing project at the former Northampton Lumber Company site on Pleasant Street on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 11/1/2017 11:49:51 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Overcoming the belated discovery of a historic drainage system, city planners, public officials and project sponsors celebrated progress Wednesday on the new $19 million Lumber Yard Apartments project.

“The cooperation of so many people to make this work is unbelievable,” said Joanne Campbell, executive director of Valley Community Development, the coordinating agency for the mixed-use project.

Campbell chronicled the 4½-year process of acquiring the Pleasant Street lot, formerly Northampton Lumber Co., and the proper permits. Valley Community Development gained control of the site in the summer of 2013, she said, then learned about the 19th-century stormwater conduit running beneath the property.

Today, construction is underway to reroute the ancient pipes, the reason for the road closure on Holyoke Street. Valley Community Development helped secure a $1 million MassWorks grant for the fix.

“It’s a tricky thing to design and construct, and it’s expensive,” said Laura Baker, project manager for Valley Community Development. “So we applied to MassWorks for the grant and didn’t get it the first time, then we applied again and got it the second time around. It’s a very competitive process.”

Mayor David Narkewicz said he hopes and expects workers will finish installing the new pipes and reopen Holyoke Street before wintertime. Demolition of existing structures should begin at the end of this month, and construction is slated to start in December, according to Baker.

Jay Ash, the Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development spoke at the ceremony, poking fun at Narkewicz.

“Mayor, let’s call it what it is — it’s a blight,” Ash said. “Are there any more vacant lumberyards around here I should be aware of?”

According to Narkewicz, the 70,000-square-foot development will bring more economic diversity to the area and spur further development.

“The mark of a strong and successful downtown is one where people can live, work and shop, including residents from every rung of the economic ladder,” Narkewicz said in a statement. “Valley Community Development’s Lumber Yard project is a vital piece of the overall redevelopment of Pleasant Street, and I’m looking forward to watching this beautiful new mixed-use building take shape.”

Designed by Cliff Boehmer with Davis Square Architects, the four-story building will feature 55 apartments and 5,400 square feet of commercial space. The L-shaped building on the corner of Holyoke and Pleasant streets will also be home to Valley Community Development’s new offices. Way Finders, a Springfield property management company, will manage the property once the building is complete.

Money for the Lumber Yard development came from various loans, grants and state and federal tax credits.

The state Department of Housing and Community Development financed most of the project, while TD Bank will continue to provide tax credit equity and construction financing.

The city of Northampton was awarded $500,000 in federal and state grants for the project, and Smith College contributed an additional $100,000 affordable housing grant. The Community Economic Development Assistance Corp. provided pre-development and acquisition financing.

With 30 years of experience helping low-income and underserved communities find affordable housing and sustainable employment, Valley Community Development lauds the latest project as another successful collaboration among private, city, and state organizations.

As they move forward with the Lumber Yard development, a new development on Bridge Street is in the works, and the Live 155 housing project is wrapping up and will open for residences in the spring.

Sarah Robertson can be reached at srobertson@gazettenet.com




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