Underutilized Properties

The 2021 Economic Development Bill authorizes $40M for the Underutilized Properties program, to be administered by MassDevelopment, for the purpose of funding “projects that will improve, rehabilitate or redevelop blighted, abandoned, vacant or underutilized properties to achieve the public purposes of eliminating blight, increasing housing production, supporting economic development projects, increasing the number of commercial buildings accessible to persons with disabilities.” The program focuses on funding capital improvements and code compliance projects, along with the design of these improvements.

The Underutilized Properties program is part of the Community One Stop for Growth, a single application portal and collaborative review process of community development grant programs that makes targeted investments based on a Development Continuum.

Eligible Applicants and Uses

Through the Community One Stop, municipalities, municipal agencies or authorities, economic development and industrial corporations, economic development authorities, nonprofit entities, and for-profit entities can apply for funding. All applications must include a letter of support from the municipality clearly articulating the proposed funding’s public purpose/ benefit. Applicants must be able to demonstrate ownership of the property that would benefit from grant funding. For-profit entities will need to make clear the public purposes advanced by their proposed funding request.

Eligible Uses of Program Funds fall under the Buildings Development Continuum category, including Capital Improvements and Predevelopment: Buildings, which are further defined below. 

Capital Improvements
Grant funds may be used for capital improvements that are essential to the occupancy or increased occupancy of existing structures. Such improvements may address building stabilization, roof repair, HVAC system improvements (provided that they are fully integrated elements of a building structure or site), tenant improvements and fit-out expenses, and other similar purposes. Funds may also be used to facilitate compliance with building code(s), fire/life safety system regulations, accessibility requirements, seismic code, and other similar regulations.

Predevelopment: Buildings
Grant funds may be used to engage the services of architects, engineers, landscape architects, and other related professionals to assess building conditions and to develop design and construction documents for capital improvement and code compliance projects described in the Buildings section.

Review Criteria

MassDevelopment will consider the following criteria when reviewing Underutilized Properties program applications. While few sites will satisfy every criterion, applications will be reviewed on a relative basis. Review criteria will be used to assess the likelihood of requested funding to advance a project towards increased occupancy and resulting public benefits. See the program guidelines for more detail.

  • Eligibility
  • Public Purpose
  • Capacity and Readiness
  • Project Benefits
  • Financial Need
  • Diversity

MassDevelopment staff will determine if all statutory and program guidelines are met. A review committee will independently review and score the applications. Note that reviewers may request additional information from any or all relevant sources during the application review process.

Grant Terms and Conditions

Grantees will be required to execute a standard grant agreement. For municipalities or other public entities, community development corporations and nonprofit entities, funding will take the form of a grant. 

In the case of for-profit entities, assistance will take the form of a recoverable grant. Grant funds will be recoverable in the event that the property, or any portion thereof, is sold or otherwise conveyed within five years of the execution of the grant agreement.

Funds will be disbursed on an invoice basis. Grant funds cannot be used to pay for work completed prior to executing a grant agreement or work that is not in an approved work plan attached to the grant agreement.

For additional details, see the Program Guidelines. Please watch this site for additional details as they become available.

Underutilized properties program guidelines

Underutilized properties program frequently asked questions (FAQs)

apply for underutilized properties program

For more information:

Shay Plummer, Assistant Development Manager
Direct: 413-731-8848 x1359