Early Years: 1988-1990
The MSCDC’s first office space was provided by Clark University and was located in the attic area of the university administrative building. With no air conditioning, no air circulation and ninety degree temperatures outside, it soon became apparent that a move was necessary and “prime” office space was located a block from the university in an empty commercial space that formerly housed White’s Cleaners. In fact, “White’s Cleaners” (with a few letters missing) was still prominently displayed above the door.
At first, more visitors to the building were people looking for drycleaning than perople coming in to talk about MSCDC functions and business. In addition to the confusion over whether we were a MSCDC or a cleaners, we also dealt with stray cats that lived above the suspended ceilings and the problem of having to regularly evacuate the premises when the heating system malfunctioned and fumes and soot were blown into the office space.
However, through these early “adventures” the MSCDC was able to undertake some substantive work. State and local foundation funding was obtained and the MSCDC was able to hire Maria Rosario as property manager and Myrna Benson as receptionist. The additional staffing was necessary as the MSCDC had been fortunate enough to quickly locate and acquire its first property, 927 Main Street. The building consisted of 6 units of distressed housing and two run down commercial spaces and was located in a priority area under the MSCDC’s triage approach to its revitalization efforts.
This first project was a benchmark in the history of the MSCDC. It proved that the MSCDC could access loan capital from conventional lenders by combining it with state and federal grants and financing from secondary sources such as Clark and the Massachusetts Community Development Finance Corporation. The project clearly illustrated the Catch-22 situation that is encountered when trying to improve properties in distressed areas. Banks will not make large enough loans to improve property beyond the average market value of property in the area. When average values are depressed it is economically impossible to improve property without exceeding the average market valuation.
Therefore, in the absence of large amounts of equity, improving property in a distressed area required multi-layered Continue reading The Main South CDC: a proud history