Pennrose to Repurpose Historic Mary Stone School in Massachusetts as Affordable Seniors Housing

AUBURN, Mass. — Pennrose has closed on financing for the redevelopment of the Mary D. Stone school building in Auburn, a suburb of Worcester. The project will turn the three-story, 1920s-era property into a 55-unit affordable seniors housing community.

Plans call for the renovation of the historic school, demolition of some later-built wings and construction of a new expansion. The property sits on 1.3 acres, and construction is set to begin before the end of the month.

Comprising a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, 80 percent of the units are reserved for seniors earning up to 60 percent of area median income. The remaining units will have market-rate rents.

As part of the development plan, Pennrose has contributed $25,000 to the Town of Auburn for new equipment for the public playground on the property.

“Since being selected for the project, Pennrose has worked closely with the Town of Auburn to progress the design and financing plan,” says Charlie Adams, regional vice president at Pennrose. “We see great opportunities here to create some intergenerational experiences for our residents and the community. This is an exciting step in the first of two pivotal projects for the community.”

The second project Adams references is a renovation of the Julia Bancroft School. The projects are extremely similar — both are 1920s-era schools being renovated into seniors housing. Pennrose is awaiting a response from the state regarding its funding application for that project.

Financing for the Mary Stone project includes 9 percent federal and state Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) also provided HOME, Housing Stabilization Funds and Affordable Housing Trust Funds in addition to project-based Section 8 rental housing assistance. Massachusetts Historic Commission provided state Historic Tax Credits. Equity partners include CREA, Dorfman Capital, BlueHub Capital, Massachusetts Housing Partnership and Citizens Bank.