State leaders chose Chelsea as the backdrop last week to announce millions of dollars in grant money for communities to build housing.
And though the bad weather thwarted the event, Chelsea still came up smiling with a $1.5 million grant that will be used to fund infrastructure improvements associated with Crescent Court – a 230-unit market rate housing development that is just about ready to break ground on Sixth Street.
“I’m ecstatic,” said Sen. Sal DiDomenico. “Only 20 percent of the applications submitted were funded, so all of us who have advocated for this grant are thrilled.”
Said Rep. Gene O’Flaherty, “We’ve teamed up with the City and have a strong partner with the Patrick-Murray Administration. The result will be another major state grant that will advance our community’s remarkable revitalization even further.”
Added Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein, “I think our award is recognition of the solid, smart growth project that has been crafted to meet so many objectives of comprehensive community planning. Given how competitive the grant program was, for Chelsea to receive such a large award is a tribute to the entire partnership we had championing the infrastructure application.”
Last week’s nor’easter resulted in the cancellation of Gov. Deval Patrick’s visit to the site of the Crescent Court development planned for the block surrounded by Sixth, Maple, Heard and Spruce Streets. Patrick was set to use the Chelsea project as a leading example of the State’s commitment of $38 million for 26 new MassWorks Infrastructure Program grants to support economic development and housing creation throughout the state. Through those grants, the state is partnering with cities and towns to make targeted, public investments in infrastructure, such as roadways, streetscapes, water and sewer, that will then attract much more substantial private investment. All of that will take place on those streets surrounding the Crescent Court project in Chelsea, as the state grant will be matched by another $1.5 million from the City and $45 million for the housing project to be constructed by the development team of Gate Residential and Chelsea North.
“The MassWorks program is a key part of our growth strategy of investing in education, innovation and infrastructure to create jobs and spur economic development,” said Patrick. “By partnering with municipalities, these MassWorks projects will strengthen communities for generations to come.”
Boasted City Manager Jay Ash, “Once again, Governor Patrick’s leadership is invaluable in partnering with cities and towns across the Commonwealth to achieve our critical revitalization and revenue expansion goals. Here in Chelsea, the Patrick-Murray Administration, Sen. DiDomenico and Reps. O’Flaherty and Reinstein continue to build on a substantial record of directing critical grant support to help make our community more livable and workable, while enabling us to go out and get the private investment that is, in turn, also providing needed tax revenue growth to support our local budget and the programs and services provided by the City. We can’t ask for much more.”
Ash said the precursor to Crescent Commons was a casualty of the most recent recession. However, a new team stepped up to do the development, but the economics of today’s development environment meant that a “razor-thin deal” had no room for the public infrastructure costs needed to support the private investment. Ash convinced the developer to go forward with the investment, with the hope that Chelsea would qualify for the MassWorks grant. From there, he contacted the Chelsea legislative delegation and they all talked with Gov. Patrick and Lt. Governor Tim Murray to stress the importance of the project to Chelsea and the region.
“I told both the Gov. and Lt. Gov. that without MassWorks we wouldn’t be seeing a $45 million residential investment replacing blighted industrial properties in one of the most visible areas of our city and we’d be losing more than $300,000 a year in the new property taxes the project will provide. They got it, and pledged to give the project serious consideration. I guess they did,” said Ash.
The MassWorks Program is administered by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED), and is a consolidation of six capital budget programs that were combined in 2011 and codified by law as a single MassWorks Program in the Jobs Bill signed by the governor in August 2012. That consolidation gives communities a single point of entry, a clear set of requirements for the state’s public infrastructure grants, and creates efficiencies and a streamlined decision-making process that increases access for municipalities and enhances local, regional, state as well as public-private partnerships around economic development and housing.
The project is one of those opportunities and a critical piece of the overall revitalization plans for the burgeoning urban renewal district. Ash said it will join two new hotels already opened and the soon-to-be-constructed FBI regional headquarters as strong statements about the incredible transformation Chelsea is continuing to enjoy.
“There’s an unbelievable story unfolding in Chelsea, where we’ve gone from an economic basket case to the region’s leading example of what vision, planning, teamwork and hard work can produce,” said Ash. “Our urban renewal, heck, our entire community is turning heads. We haven’t and can’t do it alone, though, and that’s where the help of the Patrick-Murray Administration has been so invaluable, and appreciated.”