Redevelopment stirs excitement in City

By Brian Boyd
Gov. Deval Patrick joined state and city officials Friday in celebrating two housing construction projects made possible with the help of state and federal subsidies and tax credits.
First, Patrick participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Temple Landing, the newly refurbished 173-unit, low-income housing development formerly known as United Front Homes. From there, he traveled to an event celebrating the first phase of Cliftex mill redevelopment, which will create 76 low-income and market-rate housing units for people 55 and older in the North End.
Patrick said these types of redevelopment efforts make a big difference to a community.
“It’s huge,” he said after the Temple Landing event, which drew about 100 residents and city leaders. “You see what it does not just in terms of the quality of the housing, the safety of the community, but also the spirit of the people who live here, and you can see it in their enthusiasm today. And they deserve it.”
The former United Front, which began in the 1970s as an urban renewal project, suffered in recent years from inadequate capital and flaws in the original design. The nonprofit United Front Development Corp. sought the help of the Preservation of Affordable Housing, which acquired the property in 2008 and created a partnership with other groups and government agencies.
The overhaul was supported by more than $10 million in federal stimulus money and $1 million from the Patrick administration.
Marlene Tavares, a 40-year resident and the United Front board’s president, welcomed completion of the work.
“This was a long time coming,” she said after the ribbon-cutting. “We’re really proud of what we did all of these years. We stuck with it. The community and others thought it could never be done but we did it. Working with POAH was a great pleasure.”
During the ceremony, Patrick noted the development was renamed in honor of Lewis Temple, a former slave who moved to New Bedford, became an abolitionist and invented the toggle iron that revolutionized the whaling industry in the 19th century.
“I’m still a little bit in awe of what happened with this neighborhood,” Mayor Scott W. Lang said in his remarks.
Lang received a surprise honor during the event: Temple Landing’s fitness room will be named after him.
About 70 people gathered for the Cliftex event on Riverside Avenue. That planned redevelopment is aided by $6.9 million in state subsidies and state and federal tax credits. Construction is expected to start this winter, creating 200 jobs.
“The property has sat vacant for decades, and it’s very important for the community and for us to be able to say that it will sit vacant no longer,” said Gilbert Winn, managing principal of WinnDevelopment, the project’s developer.
The Cliftex project and other housing and commercial developments are “making investments in our future because we are not willing to leave our future entirely to chance,” Patrick told the crowd.
October 29, 2011 10:20 PM
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