North Commons at Village Hill offers 53 mixed-income units in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Photographer: Joel Howe/Courtesy of Davis Square Architects North Commons at Village Hill offers 53 mixed-income units in Northampton, Massachusetts.

The Community Builders (TCB) recently completed the 53-unit North Commons at Village Hill, marking the final phase of the redevelopment of the former Northampton State Hospital site in Northampton, Massachusetts.

North Commons at Village Hill was conceived in partnership with the city of Northampton and Valley Community Development to bring more affordable housing opportunities to the Village Hill campus. The development includes deeding 20 acres of conservation land to the city, open space preservation, a state-of-the-art playground, multiuse path connections, and sustainable landscape design practices.

The latest phase includes 14 workforce housing units for households earning up to 90% of the AMI, with rents limited at 80% of the AMI to adjust to the local market.

The development also features 12 units restricted to households earning up to 30% of the AMI, three units restricted to households earning up to 50% of the AMI, and 24 units restricted to households earning up to 60% of the AMI.

“The goal of the city of Northampton has been to create economic opportunities for all people at the former hospital campus,” says Rachana Crowley, director of development at TCB. “TCB kicked off the overall development over 15 years ago with two successful low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) phases, including the rehab of two nurses’ dormitories and six new construction buildings that totaled 73 units.”

The team then worked to complete the campus with a project that balanced and met the goals of the city, according to Crowley.

To help finance the $19.6 million development, MassHousing provided TCB with $3.1 million in taxable permanent financing and $1.4 million from the agency’s Workforce Housing Initiative, which supports the creation of rental housing for households with incomes generally between 60% and 120% of the AMI. In other words, the loan program is helping finance housing for families and individuals with incomes that are too high for subsidized housing but are priced out by market rents.

“MassHousing's Workforce Housing Initiative has been successful in creating mixed-income rental apartment homes in communities where households otherwise might have been priced out of high-cost rental markets," says MassHousing executive director Chrystal Kornegay. "These families have been able to find housing stability and economic opportunity through this workforce financing."

Additional financing includes federal and state LIHTCs from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development and syndicated by Aegon Asset Management. The Community Economic Development Assistance Corp., Massachusetts Clean Energy Commission, Santander Bank, and the city of Northampton also provided key funding.

North Commons at Village Hill is also notable because it was designed and built to passive house standards. Certified by Phius, it is the first multifamily building of its kind in western Massachusetts.