Brownfields Funds Help Transform Key Downtown Gardner Building

October 13, 2016


Samantha Kaufman, HED, 617-788-3604

Meggie Quackenbush, MassDevelopment, 617-330-2011 & 857-208-2777 (cell)

Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, Sen. Jennifer Flanagan, Rep. Jonathan Zlotnik, Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke, and MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones today celebrated a $490,475 Brownfields Redevelopment Fund award, which the City of Gardner is using to help facilitate demolition and hazardous material abatement at the former Orpheum Theater Block.

The grant comes from the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund. In August 2016, Governor Charlie Baker signed An Act Relative to Job Creation and Workforce Development (H.4569), which provides a $45 million recapitalization of the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund. The recapitalization provides a reliable, long-term funding source for the Fund, which is the Commonwealth’s primary tool for facilitating the redevelopment of contaminated properties.

“The Brownfields Redevelopment Fund is a powerful tool that empowers municipalities to clean contaminated properties and advance economic development locally,” said Governor Baker. “I am proud that the economic development legislation we signed this summer provides a significant recapitalization of the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, ensuring that communities across Massachusetts may continue to utilize this critical fund.”

“This partnership is revitalizing Gardner’s downtown, eliminating blight, and unlocking private investment and job growth,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Our administration remains committed to giving municipalities the tools they need to realize their economic development ambitions, because strong, prosperous communities contribute to the vitality of the Commonwealth.”

Gardner officials identified this vacant building, located at 32-40 Parker Street, as a key parcel in its 2011 Downtown Urban Renewal Plan. Demolition and remediation at the site will allow the City to develop a public park and parking for adjacent businesses like American Biomedical, which employs 18 people and provides training services to the medical sector, and Just Dance Performing Arts Center, which plans to expand its dance studio once more parking becomes available. The expansion of these two businesses is expected to add 20 jobs to the downtown area.

“Community development was a core focus of this year’s economic development legislation, and renewed investment in the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund was a centerpiece of that legislation,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “Gardner’s efforts to remediate the former Orpheum Theater Block are a showcase for the deep impact that’s possible when state and local stakeholders work together, toward a common vision.”

“Thank you to MassDevelopment for awarding the Brownfields funds to the City of Gardner,” said Sen. Jennifer Flanagan. “The demolition of this building will increase public safety in this area, and assist the city in achieving its economic development goals for the neighborhood.”

“Brownfields funds have played a crucial role in Gardner's economic redevelopment, and this award continues that effort,” said Rep. Jonathan Zlotnik. “The demolition of the former theater building is an important step in the economic development plan for the downtown area.”

The City of Gardner will use an additional $405,500 in Community Development Block Grant funds to demolish the building and the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund grant to clean up hazardous materials in the structure and soil. Another $267,000 in fiscal year 2016 Community Development Block Grant funds will help to build the park and parking lot.

“These funds are crucial to the revitalization of the heart of the City, consistent with our Downtown Urban Renewal Plan,” said Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke. “The funding will assist the City in removing slum and blight from our City center, and encourage private investment through the redevelopment of the surrounding buildings.”

“The Brownfields Redevelopment Fund is a proven economic development tool, transforming parcels around the Commonwealth such as the Orpheum Theater Block into sites with vibrant public, commercial, and residential uses,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones. “MassDevelopment has been pleased to work with the City of Gardner for many years on its urban renewal plan and other key projects, and we thank the Baker-Polito Administration and the Legislature for their support of crucial brownfields dollars.”

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During Fiscal Year 2016, MassDevelopment financed or managed 352 projects generating investment of more than $4 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are projected to create about 8,200 jobs and build or rehabilitate about 4,200 residential units.