ROCKPORT — Now with state and federal backing, Rockport's Granite Street Crossing affordable housing project will finally be able to get off the ground after nearly five years of planning. 

The project is one of 28 affordable housing projects across the Commonwealth that Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday afternoon announced will receive a total of $139 million in funding and tax credits. 

“As Massachusetts continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that we continue to prioritize new affordable housing development to help our most vulnerable families,” Baker said. “Stable housing is the foundation of healthy, prosperous communities, which is why our administration has proposed an immediate infusion of nearly $1 billion in federal recovery funds to rapidly increase capacity for production in every part of the state.”

With this news, Harborlight Community Partners (HCP) can move forward with the approximately $9.5 million project. 

"This is around a $7.5 million state and federal investment," explained Harborlight Executive Director Andrew DeFranza. "This is a huge deal. We're thrilled to once again partner with the community of Rockport to create another affordable housing community. This will be intergenerational this time, so we're really excited about that. Hopefully it will spur more support for more senior housing services, especially in the wake of COVID."

Construction is expected to begin next spring, DeFranza said. If all goes well, the complex will open for occupancy in summer 2023.

Granite Street Crossing will feature a two-story complex with 17 supportive senior units and six, two-story family townhouses. It will be built at 5 Granite St., a plot of more than an acre previously owned by Silva Brothers Florists.

“I am so pleased Cape Ann will have another beautiful, affordable Harborlight project," said Robert Gillis, president of Harborlight's board of directors, in a prepared statement. "More affordable housing is needed in our community and Cape Ann Savings Bank is proud to support HCP and be part of the effort to get this done.”

Granite Street Crossing has been in the works since 2016. Despite the long planning stage, DeFranza said it was "one of the best permitting experiences we've ever had."

"I want to shout out the neighbors of the project," he said. "They're the gold standard. We spent a year with them working on the designs, and they gave a lot a feedback. They also were robustly supportive of the project at public meetings."

The town of Rockport has given around $500,000 to Granite Street Crossing over the years. The project received three Rockport Community Preservation Committee grants between 2017 to 2019 and a portion of the town's federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program funding.

In addition, Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston awarded the project a $500,000 grant in 2018. Additional funding was also provided by Eastern Bank and the North Shore HOME Consortium.

This is not the first time Harborlight Community Partners requested state funding for Granite Street Crossing. The state rejected a previous application in 2018. The following year, Harborlight Director of Real Estate Development  Kristin Carlson told the Times it was due to the lack of support from local organizations. Now, in addition to Rockport Community Development Corporation and HOME, project partners include include the Community Economic Development Assistance Corp., Local Initiatives Support Corp., and Enterprise Foundation. 

Granite Street Crossing will be Harborlight Community Partners's third affordable housing development in Rockport. The non-profit owns and manages Rockport High School Apartments and Pigeon Cove Ledges, which account for 40% of the town's affordable housing stock. 

Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or mcronin@gloucestertimes.com.

 

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