WinnCompanies unveils $38.3 million workforce housing project - 125 units

November 15, 2019 - Construction Design & Engineering
Shown (from left) are: mayor William Samaras, city manager Eileen Donoghue,
state rep. David Nangle, lt. governonr Karyn Polito,
WinnCompanies executive vice president Michael O’Brien
and WinnDevelopment president Larry Curtis.

Lowell, MA WinnCompanies joined with lieutenant governor Karyn Polito, state and city officials to unveil plans for a $38.3 million residential construction project in the Hamilton Canal Innovation District, a collection of 17 parcels master-planned to transform the gateway of downtown. 

Building on vacant, side-by-side parcels separated by Canal St., WinnDevelopment will create two five-story buildings with 125 apartments and 5,000 s/f of commercial space. It will be a mixed income project – 54 workforce apartments will rent at 100% of Area Median Income (AMI); 39 units will be affordable up to 60% of AMI; and, 32 apartments will rent at market rates.

The Lowell City Council cleared the way for the project unanimously voting to approve Urban Center Housing Tax Increment Financing (UCH-TIF) under a new state program designed to promote multi-family housing in urban centers. Construction is expected to begin in late December 2019 and be completed in December 2021.

Construction will be financed with equity generated by Bank of America’s purchase of federal and state Low-Income Housing Tax Credits; a construction loan from Bank of America; a first mortgage and Workforce Housing funds from MassHousing; financing from the Mass. Department of Housing & Community Development under the state’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Housing Stabilization Fund and HOME program; financing from the Community Economic Development Assistance Corp. in the form of the Facilities Consolidation Fund and the Community-Based Housing program; Opportunity Zone investment and developer equity from WinnCompanies; and, funds from the Mass. Clean Energy Center and MassSave.

WinnDevelopment project director Matthew Curtin will lead the development team, which features Keith Construction; ICON Architecture; landscape architect Copley Wolff Design Group; interior designer Wolf in Sheep Design; civil engineer Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. (VHB); and, structural engineer Odeh Engineers. Deirdre Robinson, a partner at Sullivan & Worcester, serves as legal counsel for the project.

The city is supporting the project with HOME program funds, the UCH-TIF plan, and infrastructure investments in and around the 51,000 s/f site.

“We’re pleased to be moving ahead with a development featuring a sizable component of workforce housing, which seems appropriate for the city seen as the cradle of the Industrial Revolution in America,” said WinnDevelopment president Larry Curtis. “This project will add a new twist to our long track record of delivering innovative mixed-income, mixed-use communities that contribute to the vitality and the economy of Lowell.”

“These are fun places to live. There’s a lot going on. There’s a vibe in the downtowns of these old industrial cities because of this collaboration and the willingness of all of you to take the chance, to take the risk, and move forward,” said Polito. “This is a best-of-everything project because you a mixed use project combining commercial and housing together, but it’s also mixed income. To have workforce housing, affordable housing and market rate housing all together is a really great accomplishment. It’s something to the core that WinnCompanies fully embraces.”

“The city has made significant investments to put in place the infrastructure needed to support private development in the Hamilton Canal Innovation District. We are pleased that WinnCompanies has put forward a project that will capitalize on these investments and that will help meet the demand for more safe and energy-efficient housing in Lowell in a way that will also stimulate commercial growth in this key area,” said city manager Eileen Donoghue. “This announcement marks the continuation of a positive partnership between WinnCompanies and the City that has been successful in developing high quality projects that advance our economic development goals.”

“I am thrilled to see additional private investment in the Hamilton Canal Innovation District. Bringing mixed-use developments to this area is important to ensure that our downtown continues to grow and thrive into the future,” said mayor William Samaras.

The development will offer 15 studio apartments, 63 one-bedroom apartments and 47 two-bedroom apartments. The two residential buildings will be linked to each other by an enclosed sky bridge spanning Canal St., a nod to Lowell’s history when similar connectors joined industrial mill buildings. The sky bridge will also compliment the new signature bridge the city recently built over the lower Pawtucket Canal. 

Ambitious Energy Performance Goals
The complex will be designed, built and operated to achieve stringent energy performance goals, including certification through both Energy Star Homes and Enterprise Green Communities. 

The environmentally responsible design and construction will feature high-efficiency air source heat pumps for heating and cooling, high performance building envelope details, including robust exterior wall and roof insulation, ENERGY STAR windows, LED lighting, ENERGY STAR appliances, and balanced ventilation with energy recovery for healthy indoor air quality and maximum efficiency. 

Final Enterprise Green Communities certification will be achieved post-construction, following rigorous inspections, performance testing and verification provided by Boston based non-profit New Ecology Inc. 

Critical incentive funding made available through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and MassSave Residential New Construction Program will support added construction costs associated with the project’s HVAC systems and building envelope design, which were designed and selected to reduce the project’s carbon emissions and long-term energy efficiency goals. 

Located a half mile from the Lowell Connector with direct access to Rtes. 495 and 3, the apartment community will be adjacent to a new 900-space parking garage that is under construction to serve downtown businesses and the new Lowell Justice Center regional court facility scheduled for completion in fall 2020. Residents also will be within walking distance of downtown retail business, a commuter rail line and bus routes served by the Gallagher Intermodal Terminal, as well as downtown retail businesses.

Lowell hosts the single largest concentration of properties owned by WinnCompanies in the United States. In addition, more than 100 company executives and accounting team members work at its regional headquarters in Boott Mills. 

A member of the Lowell business community for nearly 25 years, WinnCompanies currently owns and manages seven award-winning residential properties featuring 572 apartments and condominiums, as well as 88,000 s/f of commercial space. The company’s property management arm, WinnResidential, manages an additional 250 apartments in the city.

(photo credit: ICON Architecture)

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