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$315K Revitalizes Vacant Building in Fitchburg

Transformative Development Initiative Grant to Revamp 769 Main St. Marks Latest MassDevelopment Investment in Downtown Fitchburg

May 5, 2022

Matthew Mogavero, 857-248-0868

Manuel Joaquin, Prime Real Estate Investment LLC, 978-375-9738

Rendering of 759-769 Main St. in Fitchburg, courtesy of Prime Real Estate Investment LLC

FITCHBURG, Mass. – MassDevelopment has awarded a $315,175 grant to Prime Real Estate Investment LLC, which will use funds to redevelop a vacant three-story building at 759-769 Main St. in Fitchburg. The grant, awarded through MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) Equity Investment program, will help developers Manuel Joaquin and Rosario Nicotra build out ground-floor commercial space and add four market-rate apartments on the upper floors of the building. Built for commercial purposes in 1945, the downtown building has been completely vacant for more than a year; in the 1960s it housed a restaurant and most recently it was partially occupied by an insurance company.

“The Baker-Polito Administration was proud to recently announce a historic expansion of MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative, a collaborative approach to reinvigorating downtowns and commercial centers in the Commonwealth’s Gateway Cities,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors. “As part of that program, MassDevelopment can award targeted grants to boost developments like this that have the ability to spur significant economic growth within a neighborhood.”

“MassDevelopment is pleased to help developers Manuel Joaquin and Rosario Nicotra transform this Main Street property with new housing and commercial space,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “Activating this vacant building will eliminate blight, increase foot traffic in the area, and complement our other recent investments aimed at revitalizing downtown Fitchburg.”

“The City of Fitchburg has been aggressively supporting housing production in our downtown, and is pleased to see MassDevelopment support this critical project in Fitchburg’s TDI district,” said Mayor Stephen L. DiNatale. “This is one of many projects currently under construction in the downtown, which also has over 350 units working through the predevelopment process. Redeveloping underutilized buildings plays a crucial role in activating our Main Street, and these projects couldn’t happen without our partners at MassDevelopment.”

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. Since 2015, MassDevelopment has invested $20 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 $100.2 million in public and private investments in the districts, and assisted an additional $219.9 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.

MassDevelopment designated downtown Fitchburg a TDI district in 2018 and since then, the agency has provided approximately $3 million in financing or awards for housing, businesses, nonprofits, coworking spaces, brownfields assessment and remediation, and placemaking projects in the neighborhood. TDI Fellow Francisco Torres has worked full-time in the community to help local partners revitalize the district and identify opportunities for investment. Most recently, in January 2022, MassDevelopment awarded a $75,000 TDI Equity Investment grant to help Elite Construction & Design rehabilitate a vacant building at 409 Main St.

"This project is another step towards a transformative revitalization of the City of Fitchburg, and we are proud to be a partner in saving these significant buildings, and are thankful for the supportive collaboration with MassDevelopment, the Mayor's Office, the Planning Board, and the Transformative Development Initiative (TDI), HDIP programs, and everyone on our team,” said Prime Real Estate Investment LLC Managing Members Rosario Nicotra and Manuel Joaquin. “We want to invest in Fitchburg, and we will continue to seek projects that will beautify the City, provide housing, improve the downtown and neighborhoods, and create jobs."

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.