Expanding affordable housing downtown

May 21—BEVERLY — The ongoing project to renovate and expand the Cabot Street YMCA has received a $10.5 million boost.

MassDevelopment, the state's finance and development agency, announced this week that it has issued a $10.5 million tax-exempt bond on behalf of the YMCA of the North Shore.

The project, which began in October, will add a fourth floor to the historic building at 245 Cabot St. in the heart of the downtown and increase the number of affordable housing units in the building from 45 to 67. It is expected to be completed by December 2021, according to the Y.

"Our new Cabot Housing space will provide much-needed increased and improved housing for our Beverly residents," YMCA of the North Shore President and CEO Chris Lovasco said in a statement.

The Cabot Street YMCA opened in 1911 with a basketball court on the first floor and single-room apartments on the upper floors. The new project will convert the existing 45 units into studio apartments with private bathrooms and kitchenettes, and add 22 new studio apartments.

Of the 67 apartments, nine will be rented to households earning no more than 60% of area median income ($56,400); 38 to households earning no more than 50% ($47,000); and 20 to households earning no more than 30% ($28,200). Ten of the units will be rented to formerly homeless individuals.

A full-time caseworker will be available for residents to help with accessing services.

While there will no longer be a gym in the building, the Y said there will be surplus space after construction is completed, and the organization is evaluating how to best use it for the community.

The 23 residents who were living at the Y have been relocated to nearby apartments during construction.

The total cost of the project is $21 million, according to Kevin McCarthy, the chief financial officer for YMCA of the North Shore. He said the project is a joint development effort with several partners, including Harborlight Community Partners, the city of Beverly, Northeast Arc and the North Shore Home Consortium.

Mike Kennealy, the state's housing and economic development secretary who is also chair of MassDevelopment's board of directors, said in a statement that the Baker-Polito administration supported the Cabot Street project with federal and state low-income housing tax credits and Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development funds.

"The expansion of affordable housing in our downtowns and urban areas is vital to building thriving communities and prosperous local economics, and the city of Beverly continues to lead by example on housing production of all types," Kennealy said.

The YMCA of the North Shore has more than 100,000 members across 25 communities. It is the 30th largest YMCA in the country, according to the organization.

Mayor Mike Cahill said in a statement that the downtown Y has provided so much for the people of Beverly for over 100 years, "and this ensures they can continue to do so for many years to come."

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, by email at pleighton@salemnews.com, or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.