$1M Advances Properties in Worcester & Fitchburg
30-Plus-Year Vacant Lots in Worcester & 13-Year Vacant Building in Fitchburg Receive Investments through MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative
January 27, 2022
Kelsey Schiller, 617-694-9695
Steve Teasdale, Main South Community Development Corporation
Matthew Fournier, Elite Construction & Design, Inc.
BOSTON – MassDevelopment has awarded $1,025,000 in grants to advance two properties in central Massachusetts that will have significant economic impacts on neighborhood revitalization goals. Through its Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) Equity Investment program, MassDevelopment has awarded:
- $950,000 to the Main South Community Development Corporation (CDC) for the construction of a new building at 807-815 Main St. in Worcester, currently consisting of lots that have been vacant 30 or more years, that will feature seven affordable “lease to own” commercial storefront units ranging from 1,175 to 1,720 square feet in size. This innovative project aims to promote stability and wealth-building opportunities for diverse local businesses in the neighborhood.
- $75,000 to 409 Main Street LLC, an affiliate of Elite Construction & Design, for the rehabilitation of 409 Main St. in Fitchburg, a highly visible building that has been vacant for 13 years. This grant will leverage private financing to add a commercial storefront on the ground floor and four apartments on the upper floors.
“MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative works with state and local partners to spur economic growth in our Gateway Cities, creating renewed optimism, improving market conditions, and helping to attract new investment in these important communities,” Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors. “The agency’s TDI Equity Investment program is a critical tool under that initiative through which the Commonwealth can help bring development projects with transformative potential over the finish line to advance neighborhood goals.”
“Through our TDI Equity Investment program, MassDevelopment can help improve commercial districts in ways community members see and feel,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “In downtown Fitchburg, a once-blighted building is being revitalized into commercial space and apartments. In Worcester, the neighborhood-focused nonprofit Main South CDC is innovating its real estate practice beyond housing to empower local businesses with wealth-building opportunities. Our on-the-ground engagement in Gateway Cities over the past several years has allowed us to identify transformative projects worth investing in, and we are proud to make over $1 million in awards today.”
MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative works with cross-sector partnerships in targeted commercial districts in Gateway Cities in order to engage community members, implement local economic development initiatives, and spur further public and private investment. During the program’s first five years, MassDevelopment has invested $18 million in TDI districts through tools such as technical assistance, real estate investments, grant programs, and fellows who work in the districts. That investment has directly influenced over $78.7 million in public and private investments in the districts, and assisted an additional $84 million.
Through TDI Equity Investment, MassDevelopment invests in near-term projects that will have significant economic impacts within a TDI District, engage and build capacity in local communities and partners, and catalyze market demand and support TDI district goals, but that lack other sufficient funding sources to proceed. In January 2021, Governor Baker signed An Act Enabling Partnerships for Growth, which allowed MassDevelopment the flexibility to make grants or loans through the TDI Equity Investments fund in addition to its existing ability to use the program to acquire property. In March 2021, MassDevelopment began accepting applications for grants and loans on a rolling basis. Public, nonprofit, and for-profit entities can currently apply for funding for projects in or near TDI districts in Chelsea, Chicopee, Fall River, Fitchburg, Lawrence, Springfield, and Worcester.
The property at 807-815 Main St. in Worcester includes three separate lots that have been vacant for 30 or more years; a rooming house and other housing were previously located there. The Main South CDC continues to accumulate sources of subsidy for its “lease to own” commercial storefront units. The organization expects to complete construction on the new building in 2022 or 2023, with the storefronts converting from rental units to ownership units between 2024 and 2027.
“MassDevelopment’s $950,000 TDI Equity award to the Main South Community Development Corporation recognizes the need and equitable imperative of creating commercial real estate ownership for minority business communities within the Commonwealth’s Gateway Cities,” said Main South Community Development Corporation Executive Director Steve Teasdale. “The vibrancy of our commercial corridors are essential components of many of our inner-city neighborhoods and MassDevelopment’s leadership in providing funding for this project is a clear demonstration of their belief that the economic revitalization and sustainable growth of economically challenged commercial districts can be most effectively achieved by assuring that local business owners can themselves become economic stakeholders in their community’s revitalization efforts.”
409 Main St. in Fitchburg has been vacant since 2009, when the bar previously located in the building closed. Elite Construction and Design has begun construction on the rehabilitation of the building and expects to complete work in late spring 2022.
“The 409 Main St. location is a high-visibility section of downtown Fitchburg’s TDI district, and creating a mixed-use and transit-oriented development aligns well with the city’s overall economic development strategy,” said Elite Construction & Design, Inc. President Matthew Fournier. “Funding support from MassDevelopment through the Equity Investment Grant program enables this project to be completed, which will be transformative for the immediate area and catalytic in that other property owners will be inspired to transform their buildings for mixed-use as well.”
Defined by the Massachusetts General Laws, Gateway Cities are small to midsized cities in Massachusetts (population of between 35,000 and 250,000) that anchor regional economies around the state, with below state average household incomes and educational attainment rates. The Legislature defines 26 Gateway Cities in Massachusetts, including Attleboro, Barnstable, Brockton, Chelsea, Chicopee, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Methuen, New Bedford, Peabody, Pittsfield, Quincy, Revere, Salem, Springfield, Taunton, Westfield, and Worcester.
MassDevelopment, the state’s development finance agency and land bank, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2021, MassDevelopment financed or managed 416 projects generating investment of more than $1.86 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 6,578 jobs and build or preserve 1,909 housing units.