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GLCAC Breaks Ground on Affordable Housing Project

The Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, Inc. has broken ground on an $11 million, 39-unit affordable housing project in downtown Lawrence -- the first new construction of this size to take place on Essex Street in 50 years.

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera joined GLCAC officials for a groundbreaking ceremony at the site, 370-376 Essex St. on Sept. 9.

“Growing up in Lawrence, everyone has memories of their childhood Essex Street. With each generation, the memories change a bit, the accents change, the storefronts change. With this new mixed-use development, kids today will see the Essex Street of the future. This added housing and the planned retail space along with the many other development projects on Essex streets will continue to bring back the hustle and bustle that I remember from my childhood,” said Mayor Dan Rivera.

H“This project will not only provide much needed housing for low-income residents in the region but transform an eyesore in the heart of downtown,’’ said Evelyn Friedman, GLCAC’s executive director. “We are extremely grateful for the support of Mayor Rivera and other city leaders, which has helped make this project a reality.’’

GLCAC bought 370-376 Essex St. from the City of Lawrence in 2018 to help provide more options for local families struggling to find housing.

The project calls for renovating an abandoned building at 370 Essex St. to its original design and constructing a new building in the vacant lot at 376 Essex St. There will be 39 units of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments on four floors above 7,700 square feet of commercial space on the ground level.

“The location is ideal as it provides tenants access to public transportation, grocery and retail stores, health and social services, child care and civic and faith organizations,’’ said Friedman.

GLCAC, which is located a few blocks away at 305 Essex St., provides services such as child care, WIC, English classes, consumer protection, immigration support and fuel assistance to nearly 34,000 individuals annually.

Through its clients, GLCAC has seen the need for more quality, affordable housing in the region, Friedman said.

Friedman has extensive private and government experience developing housing. She oversaw the development of 800 rental apartments and 65,000 square feet of commercial space while she was executive director of a community development agency in Roxbury. She has also served as director of the Department of Neighborhood Development for the City of Boston for five years before coming to GLCAC in 2013.

All apartments will be available to working families with an income of 60 percent or less of the area median income. For example, the maximum income for a family of four would be about $52,560.

  • Eight units will be for very low-income recipients of Section 8 vouchers.

  • The number of bedrooms per apartment will be:

  1. 14 one-bedroom units of 850-975 square feet. (Two reserved for Section 8.)

  2. 20 two-bedroom units of 1,100-1,250 square feet. (Five reserved for Section 8.)

  3. Five three-bedroom units of 1,350-1,400 square feet. (One reserved for Section 8.)

Eligible tenants will be selected through a lottery after the project is completed, which is expected to be in late 2021.

Beacon Properties will provide the on-site management of the project when it is completed.


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