The Crocker Building on Avenue A in downtown Turners Falls was gutted in a fire in June, 1997. Faced with tearing the building down, the Town of Montague approached RDI and Historic Massachusetts, Inc. (HMI) for assistance. HMI obtained an Historic Preservation Project grant to stabilize the building and held it until RDI was able to put together the financing package. RDI pursued this project in order to assist the Town of Montague in its revitalization efforts, to preserve two historic properties of significance to the downtown area, and to create affordable housing without removing property from the town’s tax rolls.
RDI combined the Crocker project with the restoration of a block-long series of attached brick row houses once used for housing by the employees of the Russell Cutlery factory. Both buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings. Rents are discounted to be affordable to tenants whose income is at or below 60% of the area median income for Franklin County.
This project was one of the few in the state which received the Massachusetts Historic Commissions 2002 Preservation Award for outstanding commitment to preservation in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the year 2002.
Crocker & Cutlery Project Funding Sources
The project was part of an overall effort to revitalize the downtown area and complement other efforts being undertaken by the Town of Montague. Funding for the project included loans and grants from the:
• Department of Housing and Community Development
• Massachusetts Equity Fund
• Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation
• Massachusetts Historic Preservation Project Funds
• Massachusetts Housing Partnership
• The Community Economic Development Corporation
• The Property and Casualty Initiative
Total development budget for the Crocker Cutlery was $10.9 million. A Low-Income Housing Tax Credit award of $529,824 from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DCHD) generated $5.2 million in private investment. Other sources of funds included Housing Stabilization Funds of $750,000 from DHCD; a $140,000 loan from Rural Development, Inc. (the project’s non-profit sponsor); a community development block grant housing loan of $257,000, and historic tax credits. The Western MA Electric Company contributed $120,040 from the Energy Star Program for energy-saving enhancements to the buildings (this was the first time that Energy Star funds were used in a historic renovation). The Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation provided the construction loan and the permanent financing is from the Property and Casualty Insurance Initiative.