The Western Avenue Studios & Lofts, one of the largest live/work artist communities in the country, will be preserved and provide affordable housing
Eastern Bank is pleased to announce a $14 million loan to the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston for its landmark purchase of the Western Avenue Studios & Lofts (WASL) in Lowell, MA. The WASL complex includes 240,000 square feet of space, 250 work-only artist studios, 50 live/work studios, and a brewery, cafe, and gallery, representing an economic development and cultural asset in Lowell and beyond.
“Affordable housing is essential to keeping our local economy thriving and growing,” said Pamela Feingold, Senior Vice President and Group Director of the Community Development Lending Group at Eastern Bank. “Through a collaborative financing model with our community partners, the Western Avenue Studios & Lofts building will be preserved and rent for practicing artists will be kept affordable.”
The Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston (A&BC) seeks to empower artists and organizations with the resources they need to practice their crafts and grow their businesses. The purchase of Western Avenue is part of the A&BC’s Creative Campus Initiative, a response to gentrification in Greater Boston and the resulting loss of affordable maker spaces for creative communities. This purchase ensures that the artists spaces at Western Avenue Studios & Lofts will remain affordable, community-based and dedicated to creative businesses.
“As our local communities gentrify, access to capital to preserve their arts spaces becomes challenged,” said Jim Grace, Executive Director of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston. “As a community bank with a specialty in community development lending, Eastern had the experience needed to understand the unique economics at play and build the collaborative financing model needed for this project to succeed. As a result, we expect artists in Lowell to have affordable and secure spaces to live and work for generations to come, sustaining a vibrant and active role of the arts in this community.”
Eastern provides a range of community development financing offerings to fund the development of affordable housing and support the credit needs of non-profits. Community development lending solutions include construction and real estate financing, working capital lines of credit, multi-layered leverage loans for both New Market and Low-Income Housing Tax Credit projects, tax-exempt bond financing, and highly sophisticated treasury services and deposit products.
The Community Development Lending team advising A&BC was led by Vice President and Relationship Manager Johanna Stone. Eastern collaborated with BlueHub Capital, a community development financial institution based in Boston, which contributed an additional $3 million in financing to A&BC for this transaction.
About Eastern Bank
Founded in 1818, Boston-based Eastern Bank has more than 120 locations serving communities in eastern Massachusetts, southern and coastal New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. As of March 31, 2022, Eastern Bank had approximately $23 billion in total assets. Eastern provides banking, investment and insurance products and services for consumers and businesses of all sizes, including through its Eastern Wealth Management division and its Eastern Insurance Group LLC subsidiary. Eastern takes pride in its outspoken advocacy and community support that includes $240 million in charitable giving since 1994. An inclusive company, Eastern employs approximately 2,100 deeply committed professionals who value relationships with their customers, colleagues and communities. Join us for good at www.easternbank.com and follow Eastern on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. Eastern Bankshares, Inc. (Nasdaq Global Select Market: EBC) is the stock holding company for Eastern Bank. For investor information, visit investor.easternbank.com.