Posted on November 19, 2004
A local non-profit has taken a major step in its effort to revitalize one of Taunton’s mill village neighborhoods, breaking ground on a $12 million renovation of an historic textile mill into 64 units of affordable rental housing and 18,000 square feet of commercial space.
The non-profit Weir Corporation of Taunton, named after one of the five villages that comprise the city, is developing the historic Robertson Mill along with its partner, Combined Realty Trust, a for-profit subsidiary of Taunton-based Mello Development and Mello Construction.
“The Weir Corporation and the city have made tremendous progress in the last 15 years revitalizing Weir Village,” said Mayor Robert Nunes, citing efforts such as the ongoing clean-up of the nearby Taunton River. “Robertson Mill will be another catalyst in making this a thriving neighborhood and opening up the river for recreational use.”
The Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP) provided Weir with an early $50,000 loan to help with engineering and architectural work and will be providing $2.7 million in long-term fixed rate financing.
“Mill renovations are never cheap or easy to do,” said Clark Ziegler, MHP’s executive director during groundbreaking ceremonies held Nov. 16. “From the beginning, we saw real merit in this project and strong support from the city. (The state) should be doing more of this type of development.”
MHP is just one of several public and private organizations providing funding to Robertson on the River. The state Department of Housing and Community Development is providing $750,000 from the Housing Stabilization Fund, as well as low income housing tax credits that will generate over $6 million in equity over the next 10 years. Fannie Mae is the tax credit investor, through MMA Financial.
Further public funding is being provided by MassHousing through the state’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, MassDevelopment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC). On the private sector side, Bank of America is providing an $8.2 million construction loan.
Robertson on the River will have 20 one-bedroom, 34 two-bedroom and 10 three-bedroom apartments. The rents will be affordable to households earning between 30 and 60 percent of median income, which in Taunton is between $24,800 and $49,600 per year for a family of four.
MHP is a non-profit state organization that uses loan funds from the banking industry to provide financing for rental housing, at no cost to the taxpayer, providing some of the units serve low and moderate income families.
Bank transactions like the recent Bank of America-Fleet deal trigger the statute that funds MHP. Earlier this year, MHP reached an agreement with Bank of America on a $406 million loan and an $18 million cash grant. MHP’s loan pool is now nearly $1 billion. Since 1990, MHP has provided over $360 million in loans for the financing of over 11,000 units of rental housing.
In addition, MHP’s Community Housing Initiatives group helps communities get affordable housing efforts started and its $50,000 loan to Weir Corporation helped get the Robertson effort off the ground. MHP also offers the SoftSecond Loan Program for low and moderate-income first-time homebuyers. Since 1990, this program has helped over 7,700 households purchase their first home.
For more information, call MHP at (617) 330-9955.