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Springfield marks transformation of 27 buildings, 445 apartments

Posted on June 11, 2012

Springfield_celebration

SPRINGFIELD, June 11, 2012 --- The ribbon cutting punctuating the seven-year effort to rehabilitate 445 apartments was noteworthy not just because of the physical improvements to the buildings but also because every speaker talked about developer Gordon Pulsifer's dedication to management and his company's commitment to remain visible in the neighborhood for the long run.

"One of the things that makes Gordon special is his focus on management and the way in which he went about acquiring and improving these properties so he could control and transform the neighborhood," said Arthur Jemison, deputy undersecretary for the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) at grand opening ceremonies on June 11.

JemisonBeginning with Worthington Commons and continuing with City View Commons, Pulsifer's First Resource Companies used federal tax credits, state and city funds and long-term loans from MHP to acquire and revitalize 27 buildings and 445 affordable rental homes. Also added were new sidewalks, streetlights, laundry facilities, playgrounds, parking, a community center, over 300 security cameras, highly visible management and maintenance staff and other measures to make residents feel safe.

The June 11th grand opening made it clear that there is no shortage of people willing to testify to this neighborhood renaissance. From Congressman Richard Neal to State Representative Ben Swan to State Senator Jim Welch, everyone came forward to praise the transformation.

"I love the work that Gordon has done in this neighborhood," said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. "The transformation is like night and day."

"This neighborhood used to be really bad," said State Representative Cheryl-Coakley Rivera. "Imagine what the woman and parents had to go through to live in this neighborhood. It wasn't safe for them to walk down the street to go to work and they had to make sure that their children were inside by nightfall."

Pulsifer rehabilitated what's known as the Upper Worthington Historic District, which at the turn of the century was an upscale neighborhood with large homes and prominent residents like candy manufacturer George Kibbe. Eventually, the industrial boom kicked in and the large homes gave way to handsome brick apartment buildings filled with office workers, teachers, policemen, electricians, dressmakers, car dealers and factory workers. By the 1960s, the economy had slowed and the neighborhood was in decline. By 2000, crime and abandonment were rampant and some city officials felt the only solution was to tear it all down.

WorthingtonEnter Pulsifer. Having already revitalized over 200 apartments in the city's Lower Maple Historic District, Pulsifer proposed to rebuild the neighborhood. "We knew there would be challenges," said Pulsifer. "With no visible management, criminals had moved into the neighborhood. We started with Worthington but we knew we had to acquire City View Commons to get a foothold in the neighborhood."

MHP used its bank-funded loan pool to provide long-term fixed rate permanent financing for all three phases of this turnaround. MHP provided a $1.56 million loan for the 149-unit Worthington complex, $1.8 million for the first phase of City View Commons (152 units) and $1.4 million for the second phase (144 units).

"We've provided financing for over 17,000 rental apartments around the state but this is special," said Clark Ziegler, MHP's executive director. "What's happened here is that an entire neighborhood of properties is now in responsible hands and that has raised the quality of life for the residents and the security and confidence of the neighborhood and the city."

Longtime neighborhood resident Leandra Padilla agreed. "Things are much better now," she said. "It's much safer."

For more information on how MHP's fianncingcan workto preserve and rehabilitate affordable housing, contact Dick Mason at dmason@mhp.net.