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Coalition for a Better Acre has been actively involved in the development of affordable housing and commercial development for the past 27 years.  In that time, the agency has been responsible for the development of 425 residential rental units and sold an additional 50 homes to first-time homebuyers. In addition, CBA has been integral in the development of properties providing retail, office, community center, and light industrial space.  In a broad array of project types, including a large garden-style apartment complex, duplexes, and mid-rise apartment buildings, the agency has demonstrated expertise with complex financing packages, including the use of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, HOME, Affordable Housing Trust Fund, the Federal Home Loan Bank’s Affordable Housing Program, Mass Housing Partnership, NeighborWorks America, LISC, CEDAC and other private and public funding sources.


Acre Homeownership - 1983

Suffolk, Adams, Cross and LaGrange Streets

This project involved redevelopment of a severely blighted section of the Acre. Thirty-five units of newly constructed affordable homeownership and two rental units were created on several previously troubled parcels. The project required sophisticated scattered site construction management.

North Canal Apartments – 1989
Refinance and Additional Improvements – 2007

The first North Canal redevelopment, located on seven acres along Moody Street in Lowell, was highly successful rehabilitation and financial re-structuring of a failing HUD expiring-use property into 267 units of affordable rental housing for low-income families. North Canal is widely considered to be one of the most technically challenging, privately owned affordable housing developments in the country, involving a financing package that includes several community lending institutions in Lowell. CBA acted as developer, sponsor and project manager during construction, finishing the project on time and under budget. CBA continues to own and manage North Canal Apartments together with the North Canal Tenant Council.

CBA re-financed and re-syndicated this 267-unit rental property which is owned and managed by a partnership that includes CBA and the North Canal Tenant Council. This project included moderate to substantial rehab, making what was already a keystone of CBA’s assets into a showcase for the neighborhood. The project was accomplished with significant resident participation and decision-making. It will preserve the affordability and sustainability of these apartments in perpetuity.

Triangle Rental – 1989

Broadway, Suffolk and Market Streets

Triangle Rental is a residential and mixed-use rehab development comprising twenty-six affordable housing units and three commercial units. Two of three structures in the development were restored to preserve their historical significance in the neighborhood.

Merrimack Street Apartments – 1990
Refinance and Improvements – 2007

442-460 Merrimack Street

The Merrimack Street Apartments was the first of several CBA rehabilitations involving historic preservation. Merrimack Street is a successful mixed-use project that currently houses twelve affordable rental apartments and six commercial spaces. Several of the retail spaces are occupied by small, minority-owned businesses. CBA continues to own and manage the property.

As an expiring use (tax credit) property, this project was renovated and preserved with 4% tax credits in 2007 which brought a new financing package for acquisition and moderate rehab. The property will be maintained as affordable housing (12 units) and retail space (5 units).

Fletcher Street Condominiums – 1996

198-242 Fletcher Street

These three-bedroom townhouses were built of high quality modular construction for greater durability and lower maintenance. Eight homeownership units were developed on three previously troubled lots and sold to low-income first-time homebuyers. CBA acted as developer and general contractor for the project.

Moody Street Center – 2002

517 Moody Street

This project involved the conversion of the historically significant former St. Joseph’s Convent into a large community center for North Canal residents with two floors of new office space above. The building was restored according to historic preservation standards.

Fletcher Street - 2003

252 Fletcher Street

At 252 Fletcher Street, a new duplex was built for two first-time homebuyers on a corner lot with off-street parking and yards. This project continued the improvement of the Fletcher Street neighborhood that was begun with the 198-242 Fletcher Street project and which was further continued with the Liberty Square project in the building at 63 Fletcher Street.

Suffolk Street Joint Venture (with Residents First Development Corp.) - 2005

76-132 Suffolk Street

The Suffolk Street Joint venture project included the development of five, three-bedroom duplexes for moderate-income homeownership and low-income rental. Each building was designed to match the styles common in the early twentieth century and, as such, provide a handsome ‘gateway’ to the Acre Re-vitalization area. Construction was completed in January, 2005. CBA was co-sponsor and co-developer.

Carriage Place - 2006

48-64 Middlesex Street

At the recommendation of the Mass. Housing Investment Corp. (MHIC), CBA was asked to take on the role of managing general partner of this Low Income Tax Credit when in 2005 the original managing general partner of this property notified the funders and partners of their intention to withdraw from that role. CBA came into this role in 2006 and stabilized the property which offers 24 residential units and 4 commercial units in a key area of downtown Lowell that the city is investing in and revitalizing.

St. Joseph's School - 2008

511 Moody Street

CBA’s Saint Joseph’s School project is an adaptive reuse of an historic school building that had been vacant for many years and is adjacent to our CBA offices. The project created 15 affordable rental units (four of the units are one bedroom; 10 of the units are two bedrooms and one unit is three bedroom). Two of the units are set aside for clients of the Department of Mental Health. The restoration of this beautiful historic building is strategic in the revitalization of the immediate neighborhood and the Acre neighborhood of Lowell. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Acre High School - 2010

760 Merrimack Street

CBA completed the renovation of the former St. Joseph’s High School as 22 units of permanently affordable rental housing utilizing Low Income Housing Tax Credits, State and Federal Historic Tax Credits, City of Lowell HOME and CDBG funds, funds from the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Trust, Housing Stabilization Fund, and Facilities Consolidation Fund, plus funding from NeighborWorks America. 

Redeveloping this property is part of a comprehensive redevelopment of the Upper Merrimack Neighborhood that CBA, in partnership with private and public funders, has undertaken over the past decade. The Acre High School is located one block from CBA’s North Canal Apartments, a 267-unit complex that CBA transformed from “Concrete City” into a model of well-managed large-scale affordable housing. Also located a block away is CBA’s  St. Joseph’s Apartments, a project financed primarily with low-income housing and historic tax credits, completed in Fall 2008, and the site of the Unity Place Apartments, a 23-unit initiative that is currently in construction. CBA also has its offices in the former convent, adjacent to St. Joseph’s Apartments, renovated with Historic Tax Credits in 2002. CBA has completed eight LIHTC projects, 50 homeownership units, and currently has a portfolio with 380 residential units and 33 commercial units.

CBA’s long term investment in the neighborhood is paying off, evidenced by a private developer who recently acquired a formerly vacant 12-unit property and invested nearly $1M in rehabilitation. Likewise, the shuttered Nuestra del Senora Church is undergoing redevelopment as residential housing. Further investment is expected once the new University Avenue Bridge opens, which will redirect traffic onto Merrimack Street, a block away, providing the primary connection between UMass Lowell and the Downtown.

Redeveloping the former St. Joseph’s High School helps enhance the public and private investments made in the Neighborhood to date, as well as provide much-needed affordable housing for families and individuals. All of the units will be available to households earning less than 60% of Area Median Income (AMI). Of those, three units will be reserved for families earning less than 30% of AMI. Eight units will have long-term Project Based Section 8 rent subsidies.

The Acre High School Apartments provides an opportunity to develop smart, sustainable, affordable housing for the residents of Lowell while protecting the public-private investments in the neighborhood.


Unity Place Apartments - 2011

482 Moody Street, Lowell

Unity Place Apartments is the crowning achievement in the Coalition for a Better Acre’s $80 million transformation of the Moody Street corridor in Lowell, MA, over the past two decades, completing the circle of reinvestment in these critical blocks that has been a catalyst to new private reinvestment in neighboring properties.

The exciting new development replaces two of the city’s most notorious blighted buildings with 23 one-, two-, and three-bedroom units of smart, green affordable housing.

Residents have compared CBA’s success in the Moody Street corridor to the popular “Extreme Makeover” television show, but on a larger scale, transforming not a single house, but an entire neighborhood.

In 2002, CBA completed renovation of the former St. Joseph’s convent at 517 Moody St. for CBA offices. In 2006 and 2007, CBA invested $14 million in property improvements to the 267-unit North Canal Apartments, including new kitchens and baths, flooring, high-efficiency heating systems, and landscaping and paving. The renovation of St. Joseph’s Apartments was completed in 2008, transforming former classrooms into 15 stunning new apartments. CBA gave the former St. Joseph’s High School on Merrimack a new lease on life in 2010, transforming the historic building into beautiful, affordable Acre High School Apartments for 22 families.

The Patrick-Murray Administration provided an allocation of $499,000 in federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and $138,000 in federal HOME funds and $1,750,000 in state housing bond funds.