Vacant, century-old mill being reborn as affordable mixed-income riverfront housing

In Lawrence, Massachusetts, the Van Brodie Mill was built in 1919 by the Arlington Mills company, and originally manufactured yarn for wool and flannel.

Image courtesy of MassHousing

By the 1950s, Arlington Mills had gone bankrupt, and the mill housed a firm that produced to food products ranging from breakfast cereals to packaged military rations.

Long vacant, the historic building is entering a very different stage in its life: it’s being repurposed as affordable housing.

In February of 2018, MassHousing and Trinity Financial, Inc. closed on a $17.1 million financing transaction that will transform the 100-year old mill on the Spicket River into 102 units of affordable mixed-income housing.

Van Brodie Mill sits next to the Lofts Five50, a newly renovated mill building that once housed the Malden Mills manufacturing campus and now has 137 units of housing, also financed by MassHousing.

The new apartments will serve residents with a broad range of incomes. Of the 102 units:

  • 16 will be for very low-income households earning at or below 30% of the area median income (AMI);
  • 67 will be for low-income households earning at or below 60% of AMI; and
  • 19 will be workforce housing for households earning between 61 and 80% of the AMI.

The AMI for Lawrence and the surrounding area is $87,600 for a family of four. The completed project will contain eight studio apartments, 25 one-bedroom apartments, 56 two-bedroom apartments and 13 three-bedroom apartments.

This transformational project will put a former Brownfield back into productive use, while advancing regional economic development, and enabling families to live affordably and prosper in greater Lawrence,” said MassHousing Acting Executive Director Tom Lyons.

Other funding is provided by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development and TD Bank. Stone Equity Partners is the tax credit syndicator.  The Architectural Heritage Foundation is the project’s non-profit lender and historic consultant.

We are thrilled to begin the transformation of the Van Brodie Mill. Thanks to MassHousing’s investment, this project will breathe new life into a historically significant asset while creating much-needed mixed-income housing in the Gateway City of Lawrence,” said Dan Drazen, a project manager at Trinity Financial.

Featured photo via TripMondo.

See MassHousing website.

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