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Elm Street revitalization to receive stimulus money

Date: 10/20/2009

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD -- The effort to revitalize downtown received a helping hand last week when the Patrick Administration announced the allocation of over $4.5 million in federal stimulus money for the Elm Street Revitalization project.

The project, originally sponsored by Westfield Community Development Corporation (WCDC) since 2005, calls for the renovation of 105-107, 118-120 and 168-172 Elm St. into street-level retail space with low to moderate-income housing units above. Elm Street Revitalization is one of 10 projects totaling $50.3 million throughout the Commonwealth funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"These funds, coupled with more than $45 million in low-income housing tax credit assistance that we received last summer from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, has helped us to get some important housing developments back on track while also creating new jobs and affordable housing opportunities for families on all income levels," Tina Brooks, undersecretary of Massachusetts Housing and Community Development, said.

Mayor Michael Boulanger said, "It's [the funding] perfect timing and a great addition to assist with our downtown [revitalization] efforts." He added the project will come at no cost to the city.

Ann Lentini, executive director of Domus Inc., explained the Elm Street Revitalization project is making the transition from the WCDC to Domus Inc., due to the corporation's inability to move forward at this time.

"They got to the point just this last year that they were not able to complete the [Elm Street Revitalization] project and it was just more than they could handle," she added.

Lentini noted that all permits and additional funding sources have been secured and the renovation process should begin soon.

She explained that WSC's Downtown Art Gallery will remain at 105 Elm St. and construction will take place "with minimal obstruction to businesses."

Lentini said between all buildings involved, 19 moderate to low-income housing units will be constructed on the second and third stories, with one handicapped accessible first-floor apartment at 105-107 Elm St.

She added the project should be completed in 12 to 15 months once Domus Inc. completes closings on the three properties within the next six to 12 weeks.