The Baker-Polito Administration and MassDevelopment announced today the availability of up to $8 million in funding through the Underutilized Properties Program.
The new grant program aims to eliminate blight, expand housing production, increase accessibility and support economic development by funding improvements to underutilized buildings located in Massachusetts downtowns or town centers. Through the first round of the program, municipalities and their economic development partners, nonprofits, and private-sector businesses can apply for grants ranging from approximately $50,000 to $2 million to design and fund capital improvements and code compliance projects for blighted, abandoned, vacant, or otherwise underutilized properties to support increased occupancy.
“During the Baker-Polito Administration’s extensive regional engagement sessions, residents and businesses told us loudly and clearly about the need for assistance to improve blighted or underused buildings, and the Underutilized Properties Program is a direct result of that engagement,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “We were pleased to incorporate the idea into our recently signed economic development legislation, Partnerships for Growth, and now look forward to putting these resources to work in cities and towns across the Commonwealth.”
“Every community has that one building in its downtown or town center that has been ‘stuck’ for years; the $8 million that MassDevelopment will administer is how the Baker-Polito Administration and the Legislature will help revitalize these properties,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “Some of these properties have been blighted or vacant for decades or longer and by offering targeted assistance to communities, we will help them open up new opportunities for housing or retail and set the stage for further economic development, where there has been no hope for it.”
Funding will be awarded in two categories:
- Buildings: Grants for capital improvements that are essential to the occupancy or increased occupancy of existing structures. These funds may address building stabilization, roof repair, HVAC system improvements (provided that they are fully integrated elements of a building structure or site), tenant improvements and fit-out expenses, and other similar purposes. Funds may also be used to facilitate compliance with building code(s), fire/life safety system regulations, accessibility requirements, seismic code, and other similar regulations.
- Predevelopment: Grants to engage the services of architects, engineers, landscape architects, and other related professionals to assess building conditions and to develop design and construction documents for capital improvement and code compliance projects in the Buildings category.
MassDevelopment will host an informational webinar about the Underutilized Properties Program on Friday, Feb. 19, at 9 a.m. Those interested can register at massdevelopment.com/upp-webinar.