Makeover for Pittsfield’s Central Annex, Union Court buildings
PITTSFIELD -- Pittsfield’s venerable Central Annex and Union Court buildings are about to receive a makeover.
The Boston-based nonprofit that owns the two large city structures has obtained over $10 million in financing from a variety of state agencies to make significant improvements to the buildings that were both converted into subsidized housing units in 1980.
Preservation Of Affordable Housing is planning to add new roofs, replace windows and doors, make kitchen and bathroom improvements, upgrade the plumbing and fire suppression systems, and put in new HVAC systems. The renovations are expected to be completed by the end of this year.
Founded in 2001, POAH owns close to 9,000 affordable housing apartments in nine states and the District of Columbia, including 21 buildings in Massachusetts. Central Annex and Union Court are POAH’s only properties in Berkshire County. The nonprofit purchased both structures for $5 million in 2007.
"A lot of our properties are hitting the 15-year mark," in terms of POAH’s ownership, "and it’s kind of becoming the signal that it’s necessary to renovate," said Maria Plati, POAH’s director of communications. "We’re taking advantage of some beneficial financing opportunities to make renovations with that financing."
POAH obtained a $5.4 million construction/permanent loan and $3.5 million bridge loan from MassHousing; $4.5 million in low income housing tax credits financing from the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corp., and $1.75 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which is managed by MassHousing on behalf of the state Department of Housing and Community Development.
Other funding sources are being provided by DCHD and the equity received from selling low income housing tax credits. TD Bank is POAH’s low income tax credit investor.
Between them, the two buildings have over 84,000 square feet and contain 101 housing units for elderly and disabled residents. Although they are located roughly a half mile apart, the two structures were "joined" to create subsidized housing units 34 years ago, according to POAH.
The three-story Central Annex on Second Street, which looms over the First Street Common, was originally built for use as the city’s high school in 1898. Five-story Union Court, located at the corner of North and Union streets, was known as the Berkshire Hotel when it was constructed in 1905. Central Annex has 62 housing units and Union Court 39.
All of the units in both buildings are financed with Low Income Housing Tax Credit units targeted to households that are at or below 60 percent of area median income. They are subsidized with a Section 8 contract from HUD that sets rents for qualified residents at 30 percent of their household incomes.
POAH’s Section 8 contract was set to expire in 2020, but was extended an additional 20 years after the nonprofit closed on the financing. Because the contract is project-based, the subsidies remain with the site for future generations of seniors and families in need of affordable homes.
POAH has changed the structure of the local entity that owns the two buildings from a limited liability company to a limited partnership because it brought an investor into the ownership group so the project could take place.
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