The City has reported it has secured the largest MassWorks grant in the Commonwealth this year to help further cement the mixed-income Innes Housing redevelopment project – a grant that will provide $5 million to helping lay the groundwork for the project before it begins.
City Planner Alex Train said the grant was a key part of the overall Innes package and will allow the project stability to go to the open market for financing.
“The Department of Housing and Community Development, Chelsea Housing Authority, the City of Chelsea and the Corcoran Companies are excited to announce we have received the largest MassWorks award in the Commonwealth – a total of $5 million for critical infrastructure like streetscape improvements, utility work, and site infrastructure. It will allow the project to move forward now in 2021.”
A total of $1 million will be dedicated to reducing flooding and mitigating things around the site with utilities and streetscape improvements – likely eliminating the persistent flooding issues at Highland Park. That will include new lighting, sidewalks, roadways, crosswalks and bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure.
The remaining $4 million will be used for demolition on the Innes site and for site improvements needed ahead of construction.
“This is huge and definitely the catalyst of the project, particularly on the streets and critical infrastructure,” he said. “With that, we’ll soon be able to transform the corridor for Chelsea Housing Authority residents and elevate the transportation connections between the City’s neighborhoods and the surrounding waterfront.”
Jenn Corcoran, of Corcoran Companies, said the MassWorks grant was a centerpiece of the entire development, and they had been working very closely with the state to impress upon how important that money was to unlock private financing.
“I’d go as far as to say this was something we needed to get,” she said.
Corcoran said last summer they were able to get a Home Rule Petition passed to move the development forward, and this was one of the last governmental pieces. Now, she said, though they are about one year behind due to COVID-19 delays, they are ready to move into the next phase of the development.
“All I all, we’ll probably be about a year behind where we had been before all this,” she said. “We’ll pick up in December where we left off in March.”
She said they are taking the project to the financial markets and will be looking to develop financial partners.
CHA Director Al Ewing said this is a big milestone his agency has been waiting for.
“It really is a big milestone for the project at Innes Development,” he said. “We’re excited to get this grant from the state and continue moving the project forward.”
Sean McReynolds, of Corcoran, said getting the largest grant shows the state is prioritizing this kind of partnership.
“I think the MassWorks grant highlights the priority the state put behind construction projects, public/private partnerships and something as important as the Innes Development being in the Smart Growth District,” he said. “There was a lot of work done behind the scenes to get the Smart Growth District established there.”
Train said they hoped to have a contractor on board in early 2021 and begin the infrastructure work just ahead of the overall construction project getting underway.