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MassDevelopment, The Savings Bank Finance Redevelopment of Two Buildings on Essex Street in Downtown Lawrence

LAWRENCE, Mass. – MassDevelopment has partnered with The Savings Bank to provide $7,599,866 in loan financing to EB Associates LLC and Methuen Street Realty LLC, affiliates of developer Gamal “Jimmy” Salama, for the redevelopment of two buildings that are adding 58 units of market-rate housing in downtown Lawrence.

“The Baker-Polito Administration is always pleased to see vacant and underutilized buildings in our Gateway Cities transformed into housing and commercial space,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors. “The revitalization of these existing buildings is crucial to creating neighborhoods with strong and resilient local economies.”

“As a kid, I heard about how Essex Street was bustling with people and businesses, and investments like this project are now adding to its continued rebirth,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “As a resident and former mayor of Lawrence, it’s especially sweet for me to see MassDevelopment partner with The Savings Bank to preserve retail and create much-needed housing in this area of downtown.”

MassDevelopment and The Savings Bank partnered to provide a $4,875,000 loan to EB Associates LLC to buy and renovate 578-590 Essex St. Ten existing retail spaces on the first floor of the building are expected to remain in place, while the building’s two upper floors, which are currently vacant, will be renovated into 30 units of market-rate rental housing.

MassDevelopment and The Savings Bank also partnered to provide a $2,724,866 loan to Methuen Street Realty, which was used for the redevelopment of 389-397 Methuen St. into 28 units of market-rate rental housing. The building, which shares a parking lot with 578-590 Essex St., had been vacant for most of the last decade. Construction has been completed and the building has been fully tenanted since late 2019. For both loans, MassDevelopment and The Savings Bank were 50-50 participants.

“The Savings Bank is pleased to be playing a role in the ongoing re-development of these two locations in downtown Lawrence. There are many benefits to the community from these transformations, including affordable housing, job creation and retention, and inspiring further development,” said Pete Johnston, Senior Vice President and Senior Commercial Banking Officer at The Savings Bank. “We also placed a high value on the preservation of the original structures in these locations, serving as an important part of the Greater Lawrence and Merrimack Valley communities’ vibrant local histories.”

“It is an honor and a blessing to receive financing and a vote of confidence from MassDevelopment and The Savings Bank,” said developer Jimmy Salama. “Through their financing, these institutions facilitate positive changes in our community and help create a path for progress and prosperity within the City. I, along with my team and family, am extremely grateful for the opportunity to continue investing in the City of Lawrence with these two forward thinking entities. I must also extend my dearest and sincere appreciation to our very own Mayor Rivera for continuing to believe and invest in our beautiful City.”

Both 578-590 Essex St. and 389-397 Methuen St. are located near an area of Lawrence currently served by MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative (TDI), a program designed to accelerate economic growth within focused districts in Gateway Cities. The TDI program works with cross-sector partnerships to engage community members in actionable planning, implement local economic development initiatives, and spur further public and private investment. The Lawrence TDI District is located in a burgeoning mill neighborhood only a half-mile north of the Lawrence MBTA commuter rail station. Bound between the Campagnone Common and the Merrimack River, the district boasts residential, academic institutions, manufacturing, government and municipal offices, and a variety of social services, restaurants, and neighborhood retail along Essex Street. In addition to the Essex Street business corridor, the district has seen increased redevelopment in century-old mill buildings with more than 1,000 affordable and market-rate apartment units.

Lawrence TDI fellow Jessica Martinez works full time in the community with area partners to create an inclusive, vibrant, and equitable neighborhood through a series of people-focused interventions. Martinez met Jimmy Salama from initial interactions with TDI’s Lawrence Local Lift program, a subsidiary of MassDevelopment’s TDI Local grant program, which provided the developer with architectural services and a $15,000 award for façade improvements for his building at 222 Essex Street; she then introduced Salama to MassDevelopment’s regional team to explore financing options for the Essex Street and Methuen Street developments.

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2020, MassDevelopment financed or managed 341 projects generating investment of more than $2.69 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 10,871 jobs and build or preserve 1,787 housing units.

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