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July 12, 2022

Work complete on $25.7M Southbridge senior housing project

Photo | WinnCompanies The Residences at Wells School, Southbridge

Construction is complete on The Residences at Wells School, a $25.7 million, 62-unit apartment building for seniors built by developers, Arch Communities of Needham and WinnCompanies of Boston.

The development provides 56 units at rents set at 60 percent of area median income and eight apartments set at 30 percent of AMI. Six of the apartments have been customized for handicapped and sensory-impaired households according to a Monday press release. 

"The fact that The Residences at Wells School is already almost 100 percent occupied vividly demonstrates the need for safe, quality, affordable housing for active seniors in this region,” said Richard Relich, principal at Arch Communities, in the press release. “I hope this development prompts other communities in the area to consider opportunities to replicate the success we’ve experienced here.”

“As a developer, there’s nothing more fulfilling than restoring a historic landmark and returning it to service for a good cause,” said WinnDevelopment Executive Vice President Adam Stein. “Everywhere we work, we find situations where seniors cannot afford to stay in their community. This effort is a small step toward addressing a much larger need.”

The project utilized both federal and state historic credits, along with federal and state low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC). The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) provided the federal and state LIHTC, while the U.S. National Park Service and Massachusetts Historical Commission provide the federal and state historic credits. The Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP), the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC) and BlueHub Capital also provided financing. 

Bank of America is the sole investor in the project, purchasing all federal and state historic tax credits, as well as the federal and state Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.  Bank of America also provided the construction financing for the development.

Keith Construction of Canton was the general contractor for the project, and The Architectural Team of Chelsea was the architect. 

The development was an adaptive reuse project, transforming the first public high school in Southbridge, named for Mary E. Wells, who was the first woman elected to public office in Southbridge. Her husband was the co-founder of the American Optical Co., once the largest employer in the Southbridge region. 

The project was also designed to achieve Enterprise Green Communities certification, issued by Enterprise Community Partners Inc., a national housing nonprofit in Maryland. 

WinnDevelopment is not done in Southbridge. It has partnered with Franklin Realty Advisors, of Wellesley on a $23 million adaptive reuse project at Southbridge Mills, part of Franklin Realty Advisors’ Southbridge Innovation Center, turning part of the 19th century building into 48 units of affordable housing as part of a potentially larger affordable-housing project.

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