Valley CDC’s $27M affordable housing plan at former nursing home in Northampton gets boost

Published: 11/9/2022 9:06:15 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Plans to redevelop a former nursing home on Bridge Road into 60 affordable apartments cleared two significant milestones in recent weeks, when Valley Community Development won approval from the city’s Planning Board to move ahead with the $27 million project and the state agreed to send $830,000 to remove asbestos from the old building.

Clearing these hurdles will enable the Northampton nonprofit to hire a company to begin removing a “very significant amount of material with asbestos” from the former Northampton Rehabilitation and Nursing Center at 737 Bridge Road, while at the same time seeking other financing from the state for the multimillion dollar project, said Laura Baker, real estate development director at Valley CDC.

“This building has been vacant for 12 years and we’re pretty thrilled to bring it back on line,” Baker said.

The 6.2-acre site was purchased in April 2021 for $1.9 million by the Pointer Fund and Pointer Development, based in Miami and run by Amalfi Gayosso, a UMass Amherst alumna with ties to Northampton. The development group then partnered with Valley CDC to form a joint venture called Prospect Place Owner LLC. Valley CDC is serving as the majority owner and managing partner for the project, Baker said.

The Planning Board approved the venture’s 40R permit for the project at its Oct. 27 meeting. The exterior of the building has already been stabilized, and future plans call for a full gutting and renovation of the two-floor, 72,000-square-foot building’s interior.

The development will feature apartments ranging in size from studios to three bedrooms, which Baker said will be rented at significantly below market rates and to people with incomes ranging from 30-100% of area median income.

“We’re trying to reach a pretty broad band of renters,” she said.

Other features of the development include the restoration of the grounds, significant landscaping, outdoor common spaces and a playground. Additionally, the site will feature on-site renewable energy in the form of a substantial solar array on top of the flat-roofed building and development of a geothermal energy system. When finished, the property will be fossil-fuel-free, in compliance with city rules.

The state grant to remove abestos in the 1971 building, awarded last week through the Community One Stop for Growth grant program administered by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, is the first time Valley CDC has secured funding through the state’s underutilized property program, Baker said.

“It’s a significant challenge to the reuse of the property, the fact that there is so much asbestos,” she said, noting that the hazardous material was found in nearly every part of the building, from ceiling and floor tiles to drywall. “There was no path forwarded without removing it. We were super excited to get this money.”

In addition to that $830,000, the city is supporting the project to the tune of $1 million. That money is primarly coming from Community Preservation Act funds with a smaller portion from the Community Development Block Grant.

Baker said Valley CDC will apply to the state Department of Housing and Community Development in mid-January for the bulk of the funding it needs to complete the project. The nonprofit anticipates a decision on that funding next summer. Construction would start in the spring of 2024 and the housing would be complete in 2025.

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