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Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy joined state and local officials from Lowell yesterday to announce $66.5 million in 2021 MassWorks awards to 50 communities.
The administration also kicked off the first series of grant awards made through the Community One Stop for Growth program, which total a combined $88.7 million for projects in 122 communities across the Commonwealth, including the MassWorks awards. First announced at the MMA Annual Meeting in January, Community One Stop for Growth is a single application portal and streamlined, collaborative review process that replaced multiple application processes for separate grant programs that support local economic development initiatives.
The administration also announced $1 million for 16 communities through the Department of Housing and Community Development’s Community Planning Grant Program, one of the many programs available through One Stop.
In One Stop’s inaugural round, the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development received 267 Expressions of Interest from 178 communities. Nearly one-third of the grant awards are in rural or small towns, half are in a Housing Choice Community; and one-third are in a Gateway City.
“MassWorks and the programs accessed through One Stop support local infrastructure projects that spur housing, workforce development and private investment,” Baker said.
Polito said One Stop “has transformed the Commonwealth’s role from simply a patchwork of funding sources into a true partnership that puts the economic and community development goals for more cities and towns within reach.” She added that the program “allows us to bring a heightened sense of urgency to our efforts to rebuild the economy.”
One Stop’s collaborative review process involves multiple agencies and direct referrals to programs across a number of agencies, all in an effort to get more communities closer to their economic development goals, faster. The Expressions of Interest, Kennealy said, “open up a dialog allowing communities to work with members of our team to refine and improve upon their ideas.”
The largest program among the One Stop portfolio, the competitive MassWorks Infrastructure Program, now six years old, offers cities and towns flexible capital funding to support and accelerate housing production and job growth. This year, the administration is awarding 56 MassWorks grants to 50 communities, the largest number of awards in a single year. Fourteen communities are receiving their first-ever MassWorks award.
This year’s MassWorks projects include 29 to reactivate underutilized sites, 27 to support transit-oriented developments, and 29 with a mixed-use component.
The administration has now awarded 326 MassWorks grants to 181 communities, investing more than $608 million in public infrastructure projects throughout Massachusetts. The administration reports that these grants have directly supported the creation of 21,000 new housing units and tens of thousands of construction and new permanent jobs, while leveraging more than $13 billion in private investment.
The city of Lowell, which applied for several grants through One Stop, is receiving a $1.72 million MassWorks Infrastructure Program grant to support the design and construction of sidewalks, lighting and landscaping that will improve vehicular and pedestrian travel in the area adjacent to a private, mixed-use development known as Acre Crossing. The project includes 32 condominiums for sale to first-time homebuyers with household incomes ranging from 70% to 100% of the area median income.
“We are confident that the Acre Crossing project will mark a continuation of the high-quality development that has been supported in Lowell through MassWorks,” said City Manager Eileen Donoghue.
The city of Lowell was also awarded two grants through the One Stop process. As a designated Housing Choice community, Lowell was awarded a $250,000 grant to update its 2012 Master Plan to address housing affordability issues in the city and assess how new policies can be aligned with sustainable growth. And Lowell was one of 16 communities awarded a combined total of $1 million through the Department of Housing and Community Development’s Community Planning Grant Program, a One Stop program that provides technical assistance for activities related to land use, including: assisting communities in the development of a Master Plan, Housing Production Plan, Zoning Review and Updates, Urban Renewal Plan, Land Use Plan, Downtown Plan, Parking Management Plan, Feasibility Study, or Other Strategic Plan.
Lowell’s $75,000 grant through the Community Planning Grant Program will assist in the creation of a new transit-oriented development district for the area surrounding the Gallagher Terminal, which serves as Lowell’s central transportation hub with connections to MBTA commuter rail service and bus service through 19 local and regional bus routes. The city’s goal is to further the recommendations of the Lowell Gallagher Terminal TOD Study by modifying the zoning code to increase opportunities for new housing near the Gallagher Terminal.