Pennrose Closes on Senior Development in Auburn, MA

by | Jul 7, 2020

 Pennrose and the Town of Auburn are pleased to announce that Pennrose has closed on financing for the 1.25-acre parcel and started construction on the 3-story 1920s era historic Mary D. Stone school building. The redevelopment plan includes the renovation of the historic school, demolition of later built wings, and construction of a new addition. The completed structure will include amenity space and community rooms available to the Town for meetings and events. Construction is slated to begin in July 2020.

The development will include 55 total units comprised of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments. Eighty percent of the units will be for seniors at or below 60% of the area median income (AMI). The additional 20% of units will be at market rate rents. Community amenities include a community room, meeting room, and laundry rooms. As part of the development plan, Pennrose has contributed $25,000 to the Town for new equipment for the playground which will remain behind the building and owned by the Town for resident’s continued use. Pennrose will also be adding landscaping and benches to enhance the area.

Artist’s rendering of the remodeled facade and walkway aside Mary D. Stone School. [Courtesy graphic]

“Since being selected for the project, Pennrose has worked closely with the Town of Auburn to progress the design and financing plan,” said Charlie Adams, Regional Vice President at Pennrose. “We see great opportunities here to create some intergenerational experiences for our residents and the community. This is an exciting step in the first of two pivotal projects for the community.”

Massachusetts, like most of the U.S. has a shortage of rental homes affordable and available to low-income renters. In the state, only 62 affordable and available rental homes exist for every 100 moderately low-income renter households (at or below 50% area median income).

“On behalf of the Town of Auburn, I want to congratulate Pennrose on securing all of the necessary financing to advance this project,” said Julie Jacobson, Town Manager of Town of Auburn. “I also want to acknowledge and thank the Baker-Polito Administration and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito for her support and advocacy for this project, as well as the many advocates and supporters involved. This truly has been a collaborative effort involving our local, state and federal officials, including Congressman McGovern, Senator Moore, Representative Frost, The Board of Selectmen, the Historic Commission, the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals, Town Meeting members, as well as the many department heads and employees who have worked diligently to bring this property to closing and facilitate the redevelopment of the Mary D Stone School into much-need affordable housing for seniors. We are thrilled that the redevelopment of the property is underway and we look forward to continuing to work with Pennrose officials as the project moves forward.”

To gain community input, an Aging-in-Place Charrette, co-sponsored by Enterprise Community and Pennrose, was hosted in September 2017 at the Auburn Town Hall. Invitees included town officials, the local Council on Aging, the Elder Services of Worcester (local ASAP provider), Fallon Health (a PACE provider), the Auburn Senior Center, and the MA Executive Office of Elder Affairs. The well-attended charrette allowed the development team to rely on the expertise of the individuals to brainstorm and prioritize important elements of quality senior housing that addressed isolation issues of seniors and promoted mental and physical health. The goal was more than just creating units to meet the local demand for affordable housing, but to make these safe, welcoming homes where seniors can continue to be active members of the community. From this design charrette a prioritized list of needs and wants for the future developments was created. Preliminary plans were also been presented at the Auburn Senior Center to solicit input from the seniors.

“Now more than ever we need this kind of housing,” says Timothy I. Henkel, Principal and Executive Vice President. “This housing offers seniors who are currently living in unhealthy housing conditions like basements, overcrowded situations, or simply in isolation, access to safe and secure housing which will enhance their mental and physical well-being.”

Financing for the project includes 9% Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits and State Low Income Housing Tax Credits through the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). DHCD has provided HOME, Housing Stabilization Funds, and Affordable Housing Trust Funds in addition to Project Based-Section 8 rental housing assistance to make units affordable seniors.  Massachusetts Historic Commission provided State Historic Tax Credits. Our equity and debt partners include CREA, Dorfman Capital, BlueHub Capital, Massachusetts Housing Partnership and Citizens Bank.

“We are so appreciative of the support from the Commonwealth that begins with Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito and the dedicated staff at the Department of Housing and Community Development, MassHousing, and CEDAC,” says Adams. “Equally important is the support from Secretary of State William Galvin whose office provided critical needed Historic Credits.”

Pennrose and the Town of Auburn also have plans to develop the Julia Bancroft School into a 60-unit, senior, mixed-income rehabilitation project in Auburn, MA. That site is 3.3-acres with an existing 37,000 square foot, 2-story historic building. The redevelopment plan will renovate the original 1920s historic structure while demolishing the later addition and replacing it with a new, 3-story structure. Pennrose currently has an application for funding pending with the state.

Pennrose is active throughout the New England region, with high-quality residential communities in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Most recently, Pennrose has nearly completed leasing at Village at Nauset Green, a 65-unit, affordable and workforce housing community in Eastham, Massachusetts.