| IN THIS ISSUE:
A Message from Director Evelyn Friedman
This fall, the Department of Neighborhood Development has been busy working on a variety of initiatives designed to strengthen our neighborhoods in this challenging economic climate. In this issue of News From the Hub, you’ll read about our efforts to preserve tenancies in foreclosed homes, you'll get a recap of the successful first year of our Boston Buying Power initiative, and you'll learn about this year’s Holidays on Main Streets campaign, among other things. As we head into the New Year, we will work towards improving our services and programs for Boston’s residents and business owners. Happy Holidays from all of us at the Department of Neighborhood Development.
The Boston Home Center
“Boston continues to lead the way on housing issues, and this latest funding award is a great affirmation of our work,” said Mayor Menino. “Despite the challenge of being a city with older housing stock and weather extremes, we continue to make great progress in the reduction of childhood lead poisoning in Boston. This money will allow us to make more homes safe and healthy for Boston families.”
The new funding will enable the Boston Home Center to evaluate 240 homes for lead paint and lead hazards; eliminate lead hazards in 235 homes; assess and mitigate additional housing-related health and safety in 25 homes; conduct outreach and education to reach at least 30,000 people through grass-roots, faith-based and community based organizations, and provide training to 53 companies in Lead Safe Work Practice. Read more …
Protecting Tenants in Foreclosed Properties
On October 28, 2009, Mayor Menino was joined by Bank of America officials in announcing a first-of its-kind in the nation initiative to prevent tenants from being displaced from foreclosed homes, marking the latest expansion of the City’s on-going efforts to meet all of the challenges presented by the foreclosure crisis.
“Earlier this year, President Obama signed into law the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009 that guaranteed tenants the right not to be evicted without cause for at least 90 days after the foreclosure. Today, we are taking this to the next level — protecting tenants all the way through the process until a new owner takes possession of the property,” said Mayor Menino.
Under the ‘REO Tenancy Preservation Pilot’ initiative, the City, through the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), will purchase foreclosed homes from Bank of America with the existing tenants in place. The City will then sell these properties to homebuyers, non-profits, and private developers without displacing the tenants. Eligible buyers could benefit from the City’s federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funds, which are targeted funds for purchase and rehab of foreclosed homes. Read more …
Office of Business Development
On September 16, 2009, Mayor Menino and Director Friedman joined Fields Corner Main Streets, business owners, and neighbors for a tour of the Fields Corner Main Street area along Dorchester Avenue, where they celebrated four businesses that recently completed storefront improvement projects with the City’s help. Storefront upgrades, including the installation of new and improved signage, were made possible by Fields Corner Main Street and OBD’s ReStore Boston program.
Mayor Menino, Director Friedman (fourth from right), and OBD Deputy Director Rafael Carbonell (third from right) celebrate with Century 21 Cahill Associates owner, Karen Cahill, and others. Century 21 Cahill Associates, located at 1544 Dorchester Avenue, received design assistance and $6,000 in financial support from Fields Corner Main Street and ReStore Boston for storefront improvements.
Mayor Menino, City Councilor Maureen Feeney (sixth from right), Director Friedman (far right), and OBD Deputy Director Rafael Carbonell (second from right) joined DDS Furniture Company owner, Alberto RoStom, to celebrate the company’s recent storefront improvements. DDS Furniture Company, located at 1532 Dorchester Avenue, received design assistance and $2,500 in financial support from Fields Corner Main Street and ReStore Boston for storefront improvements.
Mayor Menino, City Councilor Maureen Feeney (third from right), Director Friedman (second from right), and OBD Deputy Director Rafael Carbonell (far right) joined Jerrier Storage Building owner, Richard Jerrier, to celebrate building’s recent storefront improvements. Jerrier Storage Building is located at 216-218 Adams Street, and recently benefitted from design assistance and $2,286 in financial support from Fields Corner Main Street and ReStore Boston.
|Low Energy Costs Continue to Fuel Boston’s Small Business Economy
Boston Buying Power Initiative Continues Steady Growth With More Than 800 Participants; Taylor Consulting Opens Boston Office
Director Friedman and Mayor Menino at the grand opening of Taylor Consulting's Boston office on School Street in Downtown Crossing.
On October 26, 2009, Mayor Menino and City officials celebrated Boston Buying Power’s first year of success of bringing savings to small businesses on their monthly gas and electric bills at the grand opening of their new sales office in Downtown Crossing.
The Boston Buying Power initiative was created last fall in response to the plight of the small business community in Boston, who are dealing with rising energy costs in already difficult economic times. One year later, more than 800 commercial and industrial companies and non-profit organizations have joined the innovative bulk-buying group that allows them to purchase energy at a long-term fixed price through access to the deregulated energy market.
Taylor Consulting estimates the Boston Buying Power has already generated a total savings of $1.2 million in monthly electricity and gas costs for participating businesses.
“Boston Buying Power has proven to be a tool for our business community that provides long-range stability at a time of otherwise uncertainty. In this economy, we’re helping businesses protect jobs and keep goods and services on the shelf,” Mayor Menino said. Read more or visit bostonbuyingpower.com
300 Jobs Generated as W Hotel Opens for Business
Mayor Menino was joined by City Counselors John Tobin (second from left), and Bill Linehan (third from left) at the W's opening event.
On October 30, 2009, Mayor Menino, W Hotel officials and members of the Chinatown and Theatre District communities celebrated the opening of the W hotel and Residences, the first major commercial development project to benefit from the City’s Boston Invests in Growth initiative. As many as 300 jobs have been added to Boston's economy with the hotel's opening.
The Boston Invests in Growth initiative is loan pool funded by federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 108 funding. Earlier this fall, funding increased from the original $40 million to $69.7 million, allowing the City to help cover the financial gap between first position debt and equity necessary to complete this commercial development project.
Since early 2008, the financing of commercial real estate and smaller neighborhood-based development projects has become significantly more difficult, with banks and other lenders having tightened their underwriting standards. While banks and equity investors may cover about 90% of commercial real estate development costs, many large projects are often left to close the remaining 10% gap between first position debt and equity. Read more …
Neighborhood Housing Development
Artist rendering of 270 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain
Artist rendering of the Kasanof Bakery site at 215a – 233 Blue Hill Avenue, Roxbury
The former Blessed Sacrament Church at 365 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain
Affordable Rental Housing Projects Move Forward Thanks to Availability of Federal Funds
This fall, Mayor Menino announced that the City had made $3 million of the City’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) resources available to three affordable rental projects in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury. The funds, which leveraged an additional $20 million in HUD’s Tax Credit Assistance Program (TCAP) funding for the projects, allowed J.P.’s Blessed Sacrament and 270 Centre Street projects to proceed, and also gave momentum to a planned housing development at the former Kasanof Bakery site Roxbury.
“It is important that we use every resource available to build more rental housing for working families in our city,” said Mayor Menino. “This funding will not only provide housing for families it will also help put our residents back to work.”
Combined, the three projects include more than 100 affordable rental units, approximately 37 of which will be reserved for very low-income families and households transitioning from homelessness. Also, the projects will create over 600 construction jobs in Boston. Additionally, each of these projects include commercial space component designed for local business to occupy, contributing permanent neighborhood jobs to the community. Read more ...