By Tom Farmer
Corporate Communications, MassHousing
LOWELL – Lt. Governor Karyn Polito joined in the festivities on May 15 as WinnDevelopment celebrated the completion of the Counting House Lofts, a 52-unit mixed-income housing community in downtown Lowell that received $2.3 million in financing from MassHousing as well as $1 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
Counting House Lofts was created from the mostly vacant former Hamilton Manufacturing Company Storehouse and Counting House on Jackson Street, which was built in 1825. The commercial space in the building is occupied by Metta Clinic, a subsidiary of the Lowell Community Health Center.
Counting House Lofts is part of the Jackson-Appleton-Middlesex (JAM) District, which is part of an ongoing plan to reconnect the area to downtown Lowell and the Lowell National Historic Park.
"This type of project is transformational," said Lt. Governor Polito. "When you have young professionals choosing to live in the downtown part of Lowell, that means you have 24/7 foot traffic visiting the restaurants, visiting the stores, being part of the culture and vibrancy you want to see here in this downtown area. That is transformational for the city of Lowell."
MassHousing provided a $2.3 million permanent loan and $1 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund for the new housing. Counting House Lofts joins a list of 23 rental developments with more than 3,000 units that MassHousing has financed or oversees in Lowell. MassHousing has made a significant investment in Lowell's JAM district, with projects like Counting House Lofts, Appleton Mills, Loft Two Seven and the Boott Mills Apartments.
"We've been partners with the city of Lowell for a long time," said MassHousing Executive Director Tom Gleason. "We're proud of this investment that reinforces all the others we've made in the city."
Counting House Lofts features 52 one- and two-bedroom apartments, of which 26 will be affordable and 26 will be rented at market rates.
The project was also financed through the sale of state and federal historic low income housing tax credits and with financing from the city of Lowell and the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).
"Counting House Lofts is an example of how Winn can work with urban planners to transform vacant historic buildings into vibrant communities that strengthen civic and economic vitality," said Larry Curtis, president and managing partner of WinnDevelopment. "We're proud to be a part of Lowell's revitalization and the city's effort to develop more housing without sacrificing its history. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the city of Lowell on future projects."
The $11.7 million project created approximately 340 construction jobs. More than 70 percent of the subcontractors were based in the Merrimack Valley and more than half of the construction job hours were performed by minority workers.
"Mixed use developments that combine affordable and market-rate housing work to strengthen the community's quality of life," said DHCD Undersecretary Chrystal Kornegay. "We are very happy to help support these positive, transformative projects."
A national leader in adaptive reuse projects, Winn acquired the site in December 2013 and began construction in January 2014. The company hopes to secure the nearby vacant Adden Furniture Company building, also known as Mill #4, for future development.
"WinnDevelopment should be applauded for their fine work in the Hamilton Canal District," said Lowell Mayor Rodney M. Elliot.
All 52 units of Counting House Lofts are occupied. WinnResidential, the property management arm of WinnCompanies, will manage the property. The contractor was Dellbrook Construction and the architect was The Architectural Team.