The city of Chicopee Massachusetts is receiving federal funding to turn vacant rundown buildings into affordable housing opportunities for first time homebuyers. It is also one of four cities in western Massachusetts recently awarded millions in state grants to support economic development and housing projects. WAMC”s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.
In recent years, more than 150 derelict buildings, many in foreclosure, have been renovated or demolished and replaced by new housing under a program to attract first time homebuyers to Chicopee.
Mayor Michael Bissonnette said the city has received $100,000 from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to continue the program. The mayor, Monday, announced the demolition of a vacant rundown house in the city’s west end and said it would be replaced by a brand new five room house.
To qualify for the program, first time homebuyers have to meet income eligibility guidelines. The project is being administered by the non profit Chicopee Neighborhood Development Corporation. Board president John Downs says they do two to three projects a year.
Chicopee is one of four cities in western Massachusetts recently awarded a total of just over $10 million in grants through the Massworks Infrastructure Program. Chicopee was awarded $1.6 million to build a new road and put in water and sewer pipes to support redevelopment of one of the largest brownfield sites in New England, a former tire factory and a former textile mill that is being redeveloped into a senior center and housing.
Mayor Bissonnette said the former Uniroyal and Facemate properties were designated a priority in 2010 by the state’s Brownfields Support Team making the project eligible for millions of dollars in clean up funds and technical support.
Bids to build the new senior center will be sought starting next month.
The other recent Massworks grants were $2 .7 million for mill redevelopment efforts in Easthampton, $3.8 million to support new development at the Springfield Technology Park and $2 million to build a new train station in Holyoke.
The Massworks program launched last summer after a new jobs bill consolidated six capital budget programs. The grants are awarded through the state agency headed by Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Gregory Bialecki.
The Massworks Program prioritizes projects for Gateway Cities and town centers where communities have planned ahead for new housing and commercial growth.