Founded in 1626, Beverly is one of Massachusetts’ oldest communities. A seaside resort, it was also once home to a robust working class neighborhood, built up around a thriving shoe factory. When the factory closed in the 1980s, the neighborhood quickly devolved. Absentee landlords have allowed buildings to fall into disrepair- it is a picture of disinvestment.
Enter the Beverly Affordable Housing Coalition (BAHC). In partnership with a local YMCA, they have purchased 11 contiguous properties with a plan to develop 68 units of rental housing. It will all be new, affordable, and it will do more than shelter people by providing support services in the community.
Mickey Northcutt, Executive director of BAHC, says, “As we began to analyze buildings, we found that people were living in buildings that could collapse any minute. So we are doing 100% new construction.” The area’s second generation was growing up in poverty and crime, so he explains that the degree of disrepair had a silver lining. “When people move back in, it will be to a fundamentally different aesthetic.”
Over the two year construction process, current residents will be relocated, and then have priority to move back in. “This neighborhood was primed for gentrification. It’s within walking distance of both downtown Beverly and the commuter rail into Boston. There is a beautiful, well-maintained park at its core. We are going to bring in high-quality housing but preserve the neighborhood economically.”
Fortunately, Boston Community Capital was able to arrange financing throughout the long lead period this project requires. “Honestly, this project would not have been possible without BCC,” Northcutt explains. “They have been extremely supportive and creative in working to make the deal happen.”