Voke Lofts Completed in Worcester
84-unit, mixed-income rental community is another piece of downtown Worcester's revitalization
By Tom Farmer
Corporate Communications, MassHousing
WORCESTER – The revitalization of downtown Worcester took another major step with the recent opening of the 84-unit Voke Lofts apartment community.
Developed by WinnDevelopment of Boston, Voke Lofts involved the adaptive reuse and historical preservation of the former Worcester Vocational Technical School located at 34 Grove St.
MassHousing provided $20 million in financing for the development, including $2 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which MassHousing manages on behalf of the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).
"Voke Lofts has transformed a historic, vacant former school into vibrant, workforce housing and is another important milestone in the city of Worcester's ongoing effort to revitalize the Northern Main Street area," said MassHousing Executive Director Thomas R. Gleason. "We are very pleased to have been a partner in this project with the city and WinnDevelopment, which has resulted in an important housing resource that will serve the city and its residents for many years into the future."
Voke Lofts, Before...
Voke Lofts, After...
WinnDevelopment purchased the property from the Worcester Development Corp. The school was built in 1910 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The development team incorporated many of the building's historic features into the new building, including large windows, exposed brick and ceiling beams. The development is comprised of 50 one-bedroom units, 31 two-bedroom units, and three three-bedroom units.
"This is a great day for Winn and the city of Worcester, said Gilbert Winn, Managing Principal of WinnCompanies. "The school is an important part of Worcester's past and we're honored to preserve the character of the building in its latest incarnation, which brings much needed, quality housing to the city."
U.S. Rep. James McGovern said housing is a major component of revitalizing the city's downtown.
"A successful downtown will mean having more people living downtown," he said. "I can't wait to see all these units filled with happy tenants who will be welcomed into this vibrant neighborhood with open arms, who will eat in the restaurants and shop at the stores on Main Street."
The sale of Massachusetts Historic Tax Credits, Massachusetts Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, Federal Historic Tax Credits and 4% Low-Income Housing Tax Credits generated $25.4 million in equity for the project, which also received $1.3 million in financing from DHCD and $1.3 million from the city of Worcester.
"This is just a tremendous milestone in the road to revitalization of the city of Worcester," said DHCD Undersecretary Aaron Gornstein. "That renovation and revitalization of this building is going to spur increased economic activity around the entire neighborhood, which is going to be a tremendous boost to the small businesses."
Voke Lofts contains a number of energy-efficient features and Energy Star appliances, making the building LEED certifiable. Most the apartments have already been rented and the project created 100 construction jobs.