City Council approves major redevelopment initiatives

On the evening of December 4, 2012, the Holyoke City Council approved two major initiatives that will help catalyze redevelopment in the Center City. The Holyoke Redevelopment Authority’s (HRA) urban renewal plan entitled, “Connect. Construct. Create.: A Plan for the Revitalization of Center City Holyoke”, received local approval by the Council in order to begin the State’s approval process. Also approved was the Center City Housing Incentive Program (CCHIP), to help draw market rate residential units to the first-four Census Tracts. These two initiatives each received unanimous approval of the City Council and will now be sent to the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for review and approval.

The HRA’s plan outlines specific actions that the Authority will take over the next twenty years, including 131 parcel acquisitions (92% of which are vacant), infrastructure upgrades and other improvements throughout ten action areas of the first-four Census Tracts. The ten areas are centered around catalytic projects that will be supported with public action to spur private investment. The plan ties together many on-going projects and plans, and will serve as an action strategy for the City and HRA in the coming years. The plan is ambitious yet crucial in ensuring a balanced revitalization of the Center City.

The CCHIP is Holyoke’s local plan as part of DHCD’s new Housing Development Incentive Program. The CCHIP allows up to a 10 year local real estate tax abatement on 100% of the property value added as part of a redevelopment project resulting in market rate residential units. “Market-Rate” in the CCHIP area is described as residential rates or prices targeted towards household incomes of approximately $48,000 per year and above. The program aims to help off-set costs of redeveloping properties within the Center City while increasing the housing stock with a mix of incomes in an area where the average household income is $14,000.

By having these two initiatives in place, the City is setting the table for future investments in the Center City. A major goal of the HRA’s plan is to increase density of the area by adding more residents with a mix of incomes. The CCHIP area directly overlaps with the “Connect. Construct. Create.” plan’s boundaries, to incentivize and attract the addition of market-rate units within the area. Both initiatives target new growth in areas that have long sat idle and vacant. The CCHIP plan is designed to give preference to multi-unit projects within vacant and/or underutilized buildings in the area to encourage growth and revitalization and diversity of housing stock in Center City.

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