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Bissonnette hopes Ames renovation will prompt downtown development


Aug. 2, 2013
By G. Michael Dobbs

news@thereminder.com

CHICOPEE – Mayor Michael Bissonnette hopes the news that MassHousing has closed $8 million in loans for the continued renovation Ames Privilege Apartments in downtown Chicopee will spur other downtown development.

HallKeen, the owners of the property, will renovate 94 apartments and completely restore 40 additional units that have been closed since 1988.

When the project is completed 86 will be market rate units, while 48 will be priced as affordable housing.

Bissonnette said the occupancy rate at Ames Privilege has been 100 percent.

“It’s becoming a spot for young professionals,” he said.

The mayor added the announcement is “the final step in a very long process.”

To make the project happen, there is a mix of funding sources. MassHousing provided construction, permanent, and bridge financing totaling approximately $8 million for the project. An additional $1 million came from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which is managed by MassHousing on behalf of the state Department of Housing and Community Development. There was also funding from the city of Chicopee and from private investment generated from the sale of state and federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits as well as state and federal Historic Tax Credits.

Bissonnette called the financing arrangement complicated on projects such as this one.

The occupied apartments will receive complete window replacement with energy efficient components, updated insulation and other improvements. The 40 new apartments will be gutted and rebuilt with window replacement and extensive weatherization.

“HallKeen is very excited to see the renovation of the vacant wing at Ames Privilege move forward. Over the years, there have been many voices calling for the demolition of the wing; the hard work of the entire development team, the city of Chicopee and MassHousing have saved this important structure and preserved an important housing resource in Chicopee,” Andrew Burnes, president of HallKeen Management, said.

Bissonnette said local and state officials would have a walk-through the property on Aug. 22.

The Ames Privilege Apartments are located in a former Civil War foundry that made swords and cannons and was converted into housing in 1986. The property is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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