$714K Transforms Properties in Mass. Cities

MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) Helps Rehabilitate & Expand Commercial Properties to Spur Economic Activity in Holyoke, Lowell, Lynn, Revere & Springfield

May 25, 2023

Matthew Mogavero, 857-248-0868 

Rendering of NolanNova LLC’s outdoor pavilion and dining area, courtesy of City of Lowell Design Planner Jessica Wilson

BOSTON – MassDevelopment has awarded $713,893 in grants to advance the rehabilitation of five properties in Gateway Cities across Massachusetts that will have significant economic impacts on commercial corridor revitalization goals. These grants represent the first tranche of awards from the Fiscal Year 2023 round of MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) Equity Investment program, with additional awards expected in the following months. 

Today’s awards include:

• $135,000 to The Golden Bohemian LLC in Holyoke for the build-out of an event and performance venue in the vacant ground-floor space of 447 High St., a four-story mixed-use building that will feature 12 apartments on the upper floors. The space, dubbed “The Golden Bohemian,” will bring new nightlife activity to the downtown district including live music, stand-up comedy, and salsa and bachata dancing and lessons, among other community events. 

• $200,000 to NolanNova LLC in Lowell for the construction of a permanent outdoor pavilion and dining area on a vacant lot that will provide expansive outdoor seating and event space for Nibbana Cafe and Tasty Dumplings, two adjacent businesses facing significant seating constraints.

• $72,000 to Lynn Music Foundation in Lynn to upgrade the Neil Rantoul Vault Theatre in downtown, which it leases from LynnArts, by replacing existing permanent seating with telescoping stands and seating that will make the space flexible enough to accommodate more events and programming. 

• $77,893 to Chocolaffee LLC in Revere to help the company convert its storefront from a production-only space to a more active storefront that will include a café with specialty Colombian items as well as coffee, ice cream, and smoothies, and studio space for podcasting and videography. The owners’ existing food-production business serving commercial clients, such as festivals and zoos, will continue to operate in the rear of the facility. 

• $229,000 to Love Art Collective Inc. in Springfield to help the organization buy and convert a retail service property into Block Art Studio, a Black-owned and -operated art center focused on neighborhood youth and entrepreneurs. The new facility will feature gallery space, youth enrichment programs, career training, community events, and crossover events with the Springfield Museums.

Rendering of Love Art Collective Inc.’s Block Art Studio, courtesy of Jasper McCoy

“We want to build an economy that works for every corner of our state, including the Gateway Cities that for generations have been regional centers for economic vitality and growth,” said Secretary of Economic Development Yvonne Hao, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors. “These TDI grants will provide Gateway City businesses and nonprofits that want to invest in their properties with the additional resources they need to bring important projects to life.”

“This funding will support the catalytic transformation of commercial properties in Gateway Cities in ways that activate ground-floor spaces and spur additional economic activity,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “Maximizing the potential of these properties means new or improved places for residents and visitors to dine, learn, socialize, and spend time, creating jobs and contributing to a more vibrant and inviting commercial corridor.” 

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 activate ground-floor and commercial spaces that will have significant economic impacts within a TDI district; are consistent with Commonwealth and agency priorities; engage and build capacity in local communities and with partners; catalyze market demand and support TDI district goals; and lack other sufficient funding sources to proceed. In January 2023, MassDevelopment released a Fiscal Year 2023 Notice of Funding Availability for projects in or near TDI districts in Attleboro, Barnstable, Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Pittsfield, Revere, Springfield, Taunton, and Worcester. 

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 FY2022, MassDevelopment financed or managed 356 projects generating investment of more than $1.69 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 11,080 jobs and build or preserve 1,778 housing units.