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Commonwealth Places Campaign Launched for "Shades of Chelsea" Community Event Space

May 23, 2019

$15,000 goal to win matching grant through MassDevelopmentā€™s Commonwealth Places


Kelsey Schiller, MassDevelopment, 617-330-2011 & 617-694-9695 (cell)

Jonathan Berk, Patronicity, 617-750-6008

Rich Cuthie, Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, 617-884-4877

MassDevelopment and the civic crowdfunding platform Patronicity have launched a new Commonwealth Places campaign with the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce to convert a parking lot at Luther Place into a vibrant space for community events. Despite being centrally located in Chelsea’s busy downtown, the city-owned lot is blighted and underutilized. Together with Chelsea’s local Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) Partnership, which is comprised of city officials, local business owners, and nonprofit leaders, the Chamber aims to activate the space with pop-up retail opportunities and outdoor events, such as concerts, games, movie nights, plays, and a night market. The campaign will help fund key elements needed to transform this space into a destination, such as colorful shade sails to combat heat and draw attention, a multipurpose games court, murals, and more.

“In addition to activating an otherwise blighted parcel, the creation of an outdoor event space in downtown Chelsea will add to the quality of life for residents and support local shops and restaurants through increased foot traffic and added vibrancy,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Lauren Liss. “MassDevelopment is thrilled to support the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce and local partners on this exciting placemaking project.”

If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $15,000 by June 30 at midnight, the project will win a matching grant with funds from MassDevelopment’s Commonwealth Places. Learn more and donate to Chelsea’s Shades of Chelsea project at

“This is a great opportunity from MassDevelopment to build on GreenRoots’ Commonwealth Places project last year,” said Rich Cuthie, Executive Director of the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce. “We have this vibrant new Chelsea Walk now, but it leads to a grim and gritty parking lot that is like a cauldron in the summer. With shade sails and murals, it can become a welcoming, attractive place for special events, some of which have already been planned by the City of Chelsea.”

Commonwealth Places is a collaborative initiative from MassDevelopment and Patronicity that leverages public support for placemaking projects through crowdfunding and a matching grant from MassDevelopment. The program engages residents in the development of strategic projects in their towns and cities. In November 2018, MassDevelopment announced $500,000 in funding for the third year of the program, which has supported successful campaigns across the Commonwealth, from Northampton to Hyannis. Communities, nonprofits, and other entities can learn more about these successful projects, donate to ongoing campaigns, and apply at

The project will be located within Chelsea’s Transformative Development Initiative District, an active commercial district bookended by Bellingham Square and Chelsea Square with approximately 200 ground-level businesses. TDI is a separate MassDevelopment 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. Building on the district’s key asset – its Latino and small business community – the Chelsea TDI Partnership aims to provide direct assistance to small businesses, build relationships between key institutions and the business community, improve public spaces, and help articulate a palpable identity that the district can use to define itself within the city and the region.

Shades of Chelsea is the second Commonwealth Places campaign launched in Chelsea. In 2018, GreenRoots Chelsea crowdfunded $31,500 and received a $20,000 matching grant from MassDevelopment to activate the Walk, a stretch of walkway between the Cherry Street parking lot and the Broadway business district.

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2018, MassDevelopment financed or managed 384 projects generating investment of more than $4.1 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 10,994 jobs and build or rehabilitate 830 housing units.