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$258K for Housing at Former Foundry

60-Year Vacant Lot Assessed & Cleaned Up by Main South CDC with MassDevelopment Brownfields Award for 48 Housing Units & Retail

May 12, 2021

Matthew Mogavero, 857-248-0868

Project rendering of Grand Street Commons, a mixed-use development to be built at 92 Grand Street in Worcester.

WORCESTER, Mass. – MassDevelopment has awarded $257,800 from the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund to the Main South Community Development Corporation (CDC), which is using proceeds to assess and remediate a vacant lot at 92 Grand Street in Worcester’s Main South neighborhood. Main South CDC is building a mixed-use facility at the site, the Grand Street Commons, which will feature 48 units of mixed-income rental housing and ground-floor commercial and retail space. Forty-six of the new facility’s units will be rented to households earning no more than 60% of the area median income. 

“Since its inception, the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund has delivered over $108 million in funding to support the cleanup of blighted and contaminated sites in Worcester and across the state,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors. “Today’s award will put a challenging site back into active use and enable the creation of 48 much-needed housing units.”

“This award from the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund will help the Main South Community Development Corporation breathe life into a blighted parcel of land that has been vacant for more than 60 years and bring new housing and commercial development to the neighborhood,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “MassDevelopment is always proud to be a financing partner for the good work this community organization is doing in Main South.” 

92 Grand Street was once part of the industrial-era Crompton Knowles and Standard Foundry mill complex that lined the Grand Street area. The 90,000-square-foot property has been vacant since 1960 when the site’s remaining residential buildings and industrial facilities were demolished. The property subsequently served as a makeshift parking and container storage lot for adjacent businesses, and the Main South CDC purchased the site in 2018 with the goal to redevelop it. Soil samples were collected from the property during prior environmental assessment, showing contaminants such as arsenic, barium, lead, and naphthalene, which will need to be managed and removed during the construction phase of the project. Construction for the $18 million Grand Street Commons began in February 2021. 

MassDevelopment oversees the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, which helps to transform vacant, abandoned, or underused industrial or commercial properties by financing the environmental assessment and remediation of brownfield sites in “Economically Distressed Areas” of the Commonwealth. From the Fund’s inception in 1998 through FY20, it has supported 747 awards for a total investment of more than $108 million. Additionally, in December 2020 the Baker-Polito Administration announced $1.25 million in FY21 Brownfields funding for five projects across Massachusetts

“The City appreciates yet another investment from MassDevelopment for our community,” said Worcester City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. “Brownfields reclamation is not just an economic development issue, it’s also an environmental justice issue. We look forward to this project in partnership with Main South CDC to create additional, much-needed affordable housing options in the neighborhood by redeveloping this vacant brownfields site.”

MassDevelopment has previously partnered with the Main South CDC to support local economic development. Between 2006 and 2008, the agency provided a $46,500 award from the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund and a $350,000 award from a pilot asbestos abatement program to fund predevelopment work at nearby 93 Grand Street, which was eventually sold to The Community Builders and redeveloped into 83 affordable housing units. In 2017, the agency issued a $4 million tax-exempt bond to help Main South CDC buy and renovate Nuestras Casas, a mixed-income housing development in Worcester. In 2020 and 2021, the agency awarded $125,000 in Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) Local grants to help Main South CDC provide relief for small during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“MassDevelopment has played such a critical role in contributing to the success of the physical and economic revitalization of the Main South neighborhood,” said Main South CDC Executive Director Steve Teasdale. “The agency’s Brownfields program has facilitated the reclamation of contaminated industrial sites and abandoned buildings for reuse as much needed affordable housing and recreational facilities that serve the needs of this diverse inner-city neighborhood. In addition, MassDevelopment’s TDI team is presently driving revitalization efforts targeting several economically challenged blocks of the neighborhood’s commercial corridor, providing not just technical assistance to the effort but the financial resources and equity necessary to create economic growth opportunities for the District’s largely minority owned businesses. It has been an extremely valuable partnership over the years.”

Worcester’s Main South neighborhood is currently served by MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative (TDI), a program designed to accelerate economic growth within focused districts in Gateway Cities. The program works with cross-sector partnerships to engage community members in actionable planning, implement local economic development initiatives, and spur further public and private investment. Since 2018, Main South has been designated a TDI district, with TDI fellow Ivette Olmeda working full time in the community to engage local business and property owners, organize the Main South Business Association, and develop strategic reuse plans for vacant sites to help Main South become a walkable and vibrant neighborhood. 

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2020, MassDevelopment financed or managed 341 projects generating investment of more than $2.69 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 10,871 jobs and build or preserve 1,787 housing units.

Steve Teasdale, Main South CDC