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JAS Spotlight: The Renovation of Bishop Allen Apartments

This fall, Just-A-Start will celebrate the completion of a $16 million development that has already drawn praise from city officials and neighborhood groups alike for not only preserving affordable housing in Cambridge, but preserving a small piece of Cantabridgian history.

Before

Before

After

After

Located in the Central Square neighborhood, at the intersection of Bishop Allen Drive and Norfolk Street, the Bishop Allen Apartments consist of 32 apartments in four buildings and were originally built as residential hotels in the 1880s.

Just-A-Start purchased the units which were at risk of converting to market rate rents with financing from the City of Cambridge and the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC). The buildings are being renovated in a way that enhances the original architecture thanks to a grant from the Cambridge Historical Commission and Massachusetts Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits. Project funding also includes MassDevelopment, Boston Private Bank, Brookline Bank, MHIC, and the State’s Department of Housing and Community Development.

The project includes energy efficient windows and new insulation, upgraded kitchens and bathrooms, new flooring, and a high efficiency boiler. New doors, the de-leading of old painted surfaces and new paint, the removal of vinyl siding, and a return to the original design, are also part of the project, as is restoration of the architectural details of the historic buildings.

Upon completion this fall, the renovated apartment complex will boast 27 three-bedroom units, and five two-bedroom units.

“This is a big part of what we do at Just-A-Start, and it’s a great example of the role our organization plays in this community,” explained Peter Graham, JAS’s director of real estate. “We strengthen our community by providing low and middle income families, teachers, health care professionals, and many others with affordable housing and all the while, preserving a little history, too.”