A former mill building on Summer Street in Leominster has been converted into a 36-apartment block, breathing new life into a space that sat vacant for 10 years before large-scale renovation began in 2019.
Developer Dan Botwinik of Cougar Capital was able to transform the 45 Summer St. property into what it is today by working with the City of Leominster and the Commonwealth to take advantage of a variety of tax credits and benefits. incentives.
“Without the Housing Development Incentive Program (HDIP) credits and historic tax credits, this project would never have made financial sense, and this once vibrant factory would still be contributing to downtown decay” , Botwinik said. “Fortunately, these programs allow developers to repurpose and restore buildings of historic significance, while creating jobs, increasing the tax base and providing quality housing.”
According to the website for the property, now known as Toy Factory Apartments, 45 Summer St. was built in 1880. Originally known as WS Reed Toy and Manufacturing, the factory building (which adjoins Carter Park) was used to produce toys, and later shirts.
The building houses one studio, 20 one-bedroom units, and 15 two-bedroom units; the monthly rent is $1,500 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,850 for a two-bedroom apartment. Light-filled living areas feature exposed brickwork, clean modern lines, stainless steel appliances, and high cathedral ceilings.
Botwinik formed Toy Factory Apartments, LLC, a single-purpose ownership entity, in 2017 to take title to the property. Permits and development were completed in late 2018. Construction began in early 2019 and was completed in September 2020.
“The renovation of 45 Summer St., now known as Toy Factory Apartments, was more complicated than most renovations we’ve undertaken in the past,” Botwinik said. “It took several years and a lot of planning.”
Botwinik said he purchased nearby properties for additional parking, worked with the city to get the proper approvals, and applied for a tax abatement, as well as state and federal historic tax credits and Development Incentive Program credits. housing through the Commonwealth Department of Housing and Community. Development.
“The Town of Leominster has been great to work with and very supportive of this project, and we’ve worked closely with them to develop a residential project that has worked for Summer Street and the town as a whole,” Botwinik said. “The Economic Development Department also helped us obtain TIE (Tax Increment Exemption) and HDIP credits, without which the project would not have been possible.
Botwinik said the project also includes support from the state and federal levels through historic tax credits that are awarded to projects that meet specific criteria to help make the preservation of historic buildings possible.
“Since the building was previously used as office space and storage, almost everything was replaced and a new elevator was installed,” he said. “The historic elements of the building have been preserved, including old metal doors, exposed brick walls, ceilings and columns.”
They have completed an environmental rehabilitation and the building has been completely de-sealed as part of the construction.
“Solar panels are installed on the roof to help make the building greener,” Botwinik said.
Botwinik said he worked with many local businesses and suppliers throughout the project, which was important to him.
“A typical day during construction included up to 50 construction workers on site and multiple material deliveries,” he said. “The income earned by local workers creates a ripple effect as they pay taxes and spend their earnings in the local economy. A construction project of this magnitude not only provides many jobs, but also provides housing for new residents and additional property taxes for the city. »
According to Botwinik, the building was fully let in July, August and September 2020.
“General feedback from tenants is that they like the high ceilings, exposed brick and loft/mill style of the building, as well as the large rooftop terrace and fitness center,” he said. . “The feedback from the community has also been very positive. We are delighted to have been able to play a part in the renovation and are proud of the craftsmanship and quality of construction.
Botwinik said they were starting a new renovation project next door at 41 Summer St., following a similar structure of HDIP, TIE, and state and federal historic tax credits. Ultimately, this building will house 19 studios and two one-bedroom apartments. They expect the project to be completed in the spring of 2022.
“We are delighted to continue to invest in Leominster,” Botwinik said.
For more information, visit toyfactoryapartments.com.