MassHousing has committed $17.1 million in financing to assist an affiliate of Trinity Financial create an affordable housing community in Lawrence, Mass.

Trinity Financial is transforming the former Van Brodie Mill into 102 units of mixed-income housing within a smart growth district. The adaptive-reuse project will preserve the historic mill, while remediating a brownfield site.

Trinity Financial is redeveloping the Van Brodie Mill into affordable housing in Lawrence, Mass. The completed project will contain eight studio apartments, 25 one-, 56 two-, and 13 three-bedroom apartments.
Courtesy of Trinity Financial Trinity Financial is redeveloping the Van Brodie Mill into affordable housing in Lawrence, Mass. The completed project will contain eight studio apartments, 25 one-, 56 two-, and 13 three-bedroom apartments.

“Van Brodie Mill will be an important new housing resource for working families in Lawrence,” said Tom Lyons, MassHousing’s active executive director. “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.”

Constructed in 1919 by the Arlington Mills company, the Van Brodie Mill originally manufactured yarn for wool and flannel. By the 1950s, the company had closed, and the mill was operated by a company that shifted production to food products, including packaged breakfast cereals and rations for the military.

Van Brodie Mill is Trinity Financial’s first project in Lawrence.

“We are thrilled to begin the transformation of the Van Brodie Mill,” said Trinity Financial project manager Dan Drazen. “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.”

Gateway Cities are midsize urban centers that anchor regional economies around the state. Over the years, manufacturing jobs have disappeared from these communities, and they’ve faced economic challenges.

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 the AMI, and 19 will be dedicated for 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.

MassHousing is supporting the redevelopment of Van Brodie Mill by providing more than $17 million in affordable housing funding, including a $14 million conduit bridge loan, $1.2 million in permanent financing, and $1.9 million in workforce housing funds.

An allocation of state and federal low-income housing tax credits from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will generate nearly $29 million in equity financing for the project. Federal and state historic tax credits will contribute an additional $8.4 million of equity. DHCD invested $2.3 million of funding through its Housing Stabilization Fund. The project also received $2.3 million through the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which MassHousing manages on behalf of DHCD.

Red Stone Equity Partners is the tax credit syndicator and is providing over $37 million in tax credit equity to support the redevelopment, according to Rob Vest, principal and managing director of acquisitions at the firm.

TD Bank will provide approximately $35 million of construction financing, as well a $14 million letter of credit. Architectural Heritage Foundation is the project’s non-profit lender and historic consultant.

"This is a very important project that will allow low-income families to have a place they can call home," said Thomas McColgan, vice president at TD Bank. "This is one of our many projects with Trinity Financial, and we are incredibly pleased to work with such a great set of partners to provide top-quality affordable housing for the residents of Lawrence.”

The redevelopment of Van Brodie Mill advances the Baker-Polito administration’s goal of creating up to 1,000 new workforce housing units affordable to middle-income households through MassHousing’s $100 million Workforce Housing Initiative. Since the inception of the initiative in 2016, MassHousing has committed or closed workforce housing financing totaling $49.7 million, to 23 projects, located in 13 cities and towns. To date, the Workforce Housing Initiative has advanced the development of 2,111 housing units across a range of incomes, including 538 workforce housing units.

The project will be built on four adjacent land parcels within the city’s 34-acre Arlington Mills Smart Growth Overlay District, containing two interconnected mill buildings with 100 units, a small, former incinerator building with two units, a water pump house, and a parking lot.

The contractor will be Aberthaw Construction. The architect is ICON Architecture and the management agent will be Trinity Management.

MassHousing has financed or administers the subsidy contract for 16 rental communities in Lawrence, totaling 1,965 housing units and an original loan amount of $103 million. The agency has also provided $120.5 million in financing to 1,341 Lawrence homebuyers or homeowners.