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$150K to aid Cameron's cleanup

January 26, 2020 : Gloucester Daily Times, by Taylor Ann Bradford

Contamination to be removed for housing project

Demolition isn't the only thing underway at the intersection of Main and Elm streets.

The North Shore Community Development Coalition (CDC) has received a $150,000 Brownfields Redevelopment Fund award from the Baker-Polito administration to assess and remediate the site of the defunct Cameron's Restaurant.

"The Brownfields Redevelopment Fund breathes life into vacant or underused properties where redevelopment may be complicated by environmental contamination," Gov. Charlie Baker said.

After acquiring the property for $975,000 in 2015, North Shore CDC and Action Inc. have their sights set on developing a new, four-story building with 30 affordable housing units and 2,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space. The city Zoning Board of Appeals approved the project in 2016.

The defunct Cameron's property is considered by and the city's Community Relations Plan as a brownfield, a commercial site where future use can be affected by real or perceived environmental contamination.

In 2015, the city's Community Development Department was notified by environmental engineering company Weston & Sampson that after a hazardous building materials investigation, it had found a "total of 58 samples of suspect asbestos-containing materials."

This award will assist North Shore CDC in financing a site assessment and cleanup activities to drive the affordable housing project on Main Street forward.

"We're so excited about this project which will bring much needed affordable housing downtown and revitalize an underutilized section of Gloucester's historic Main Street," said Mickey Northcutt, CEO of North Shore CDC.

In addition to 30 housing units, the completed project will include a laundry and community room, two to three retail spaces, a property management office, and programming space.

Parking has also been taken into consideration and 30 off-street spaces will be constructed.

"Affordable housing is an important asset to any community and is a constant priority for my administration," Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken said. "This project is a prime example of what teamwork is all about."

All 30 apartments are Low Income Housing Tax Credit assisted; six are Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program units restricted to incomes at or below 30% of area median income; and three are section 811 units, for persons with disabilities, of which are two set aside for Community-Based Housing clients, according to CDC.

"Affordable housing is a top need in our community," said Peggy Hegarty-Steck, president and executive director of Action Inc. "More than 40% of Gloucester residents are housing-cost burdened."

With a total construction cost of approximately $9.5 million, North Shore CDC also received funding from construction and permanent loans, state and federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, state and federal subsidies including North Shore HOME Consortium HOME funds, CBH funds, Affordable Housing Trust Funds, Housing Innovation Funds, Commercial Area Transit Node Housing Program funds, Gloucester HOME Funds, Gloucester Community Preservation Action funds, and Gloucester Affordable Housing Trust funds.

Other areas within the Commonwealth that received Brownfields Funding from the Baker-Polito Administration for the environmental assessment and cleanup of contaminated and challenging sites include Boston, Fitchburg, Gardner, Kingston, Lawrence, North Attleborough, Norton, Somerset, and Westford.

"Along with other state resources like MassWorks and Site Readiness Program, the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund helps municipalities unlock key sites and set the stage for economic development to occur," Lt. Governor Karyn Polito said. "We are proud to help cities, towns and other local economic development partners overcome barriers to growth, and to bring projects to completion."

Construction at 206 Main St. is scheduled to take approximately 15 months and plans call for project to wrap up in the middle of 2021.