Tallest Residential Tower in Downtown Reconstruction Financing Approved

State, Federal Money Buoy Sagging Regency
By Steve Urbon

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick gets a tour of New Bedford as seen from the top of the Regency Building where the Gov had a press converence for an announcement. Peter Pereira

NEW BEDFORD — With the help of state and federal financing, the unlucky Regency Tower apartment building downtown will get a new lease on life in 2010, Gov. Deval Patrick announced Friday.
The announcement before a crowd of 125 inside a heated tent in the Regency parking lot was just one stop on an all-day tour of the city for the governor. He flitted with his cabinet members from one venue to the next to celebrate new projects: bank-sponsored, after-school activities at Normandin Middle School, a supermarket ground breaking at Riverside Landing in the North End, a closed-door meeting in the mayor’s office, a cabinet meeting in the San Francisco Room at the whaling museum.
Barely mentioned in all of the activity was the news that United Front Homes will receive $10.4 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds that replaced unused tax credits. That will produce 173 units of refurbished housing, with 139 targeted to low- and moderate-income residents.
The $30 million Regency redevelopment, expected to be completed within the year, will refurbish the 16-story, 22-year-old high-rise that has suffered from poor construction and maintenance.
Patrick toured the building with Mayor Scott W. Lang and U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., not only inspecting the structure but using the view from the tallest building in the region to give the governor a bird’s-eye view of all of the projects going on in the city.
The project was hailed by Frank, Lang and others as an example of the city bucking the national trend and actually creating new housing and continuing the resurgence of downtown. “It’s an example for the nation,” said Frank.
The Regency has been in rough shape for years. It has serious water damage and was foreclosed on in 2005 by the state’s housing finance agent, MassHousing. More than 90 apartments stand empty and many are uninhabitable. Scaffolding has protected pedestrians from falling debris for six years.
The redevelopment, by Trinity Financial Inc., will include converting excess commercial space into new apartments, making repairs throughout the building, replacing most of the brick facade that for years has been regarded as unstable, replacing all patio doors and windows, replacing the roof and adding waterproofing and insulation.
Apartment interiors will get new kitchens, baths and air conditioning and heating systems. This will result in 129 rental units with 43 set aside for low- and moderate-income residents, according to the governor’s office.
Local union leaders are celebrating because Trinity is a union employer and 100 construction jobs are expected to be created by the project, which starts in March and should be complete by December.
The financing package includes state and federal housing tax credits and $4.5 million in state and federal gap financing, expected to leverage another $10.6 million for the project.
Statewide, the governor said, $154 million is going to 26 rental developments in 17 communities. The effort is expected to produce more than 1,000 housing units, 90 percent of which will be affordable to low- and moderate-income households.
Steve Urbon is senior correspondent for The Standard-Times.
surbon@s-t.com
January 09, 2010
Source URL:
http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100109/NEWS/1090336/-1/NEWSMAP

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