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MHP joins in celebration of New Bedford housing effort

Posted on June 27, 2002

NEW BEDFORD --- HallKeen’s Andrew Burns knew renovating the 72 units known as Wamsutta Apartments wasn’t going to be enough to revitalize a neighborhood plagued by drugs, crime and poverty.

“Our property was surrounded by a number of other properties that had major problems,” said Burns, a principal at the New England-based real estate investment company.  “We needed to stabilize these properties.”

Step by step, HallKeen bought these distressed buildings and renovated them. On Thursday, June 27, Burns presided over a celebration marking the completion of the fourth and final phase of HallKeen’s redevelopment of 144 units of affordable rental housing in the Acushnet Heights neighborhood.

The Massachusetts Housing Partnership Fund participated in the event. MHP is providing permanent financing for the three smaller phases of Wamsutta through its Permanent Rental Financing Program, which is designed so that multiple buildings in close proximity can be financed through one loan.

Thursday’s event marked the completion of 18 units of affordable rental housing in three buildings located on State Street. Previously, just blocks away, HallKeen renovated 12 units known as Austin Court; and 36 more units in six buildings known as Kalife Apartments. All of these smaller projects surround HallKeen’s initial investment, the 72-unit Wamsutta apartment buildings.

MHP is providing $275,000 in permanent financing for State Street, bringing its total involvement in the three smaller phases to $1.1 million. MHP specializes financing smaller projects that strengthen neighborhoods.

“MHP loves to do small developments like this,” said Rita Farrell, MHP’s director of Intensive Community Support. “Helping neighborhoods is what we’re all about.”

Burns credited the partnership between state and local agencies with making the Wamsutta effort possible. Major support came from The City of New Bedford; the state Department of Housing and Community Development; Massachusetts Housing and Investment Corporation; Massachusetts Housing Equity Fund; and MassHousing.

In the past, the Acushnet Heights neighborhood has had its share of bad publicity, with news stories on drug busts, crime and prostitution. At Thursday’s event, New Bedford Mayor Frederick M. Kalisz  praised the Wamsutta effort for bringing change to the neighborhood.

 “The Wamsutta Apartments revitalization project has transformed a neighborhood into a source of community pride and accomplishment. Since the renovation, there has been a perceptible change in the neighborhood and a renewed sense of optimism.

For more information on how MHP’s rental financing programs can spur neighborhood development, call MHP at 617-338-7878 x227.

(PHOTO INFORMATION: The view from the doorway of two of the three apartment buildings at 198 State Street).