LYNN — At a Public Property and Parks Committee meeting Tuesday evening, city officials approved a request for proposal to seek designers for the repurposing of a new affordable housing complex at the former Thurgood Marshall Middle School site on 30 Porter St.
In September 2021, School Committee members voted in favor of turning the Thurgood Marshall Middle School property over to the city so it could be sold to a developer and turned into senior housing.
Ward 3 Councilor Coco Alinsug said that the City Council’s vote to approve the transformation of the Element Care building on Friend Street in April mitigated the City’s need for senior housing, leaving the building open to a variety of potential uses, mainly affordable housing units.
“They are going to construct a new RFR (request for response). In the old one, the Senior Center was supposed to be in the building, but it’s not happening now because now we have a Senior Center. So they’re going to tweak that, change that so that there might be different units or different purposes,” Alinsug said.
Alinsug said that residents near the former middle school are eager for the building to be repurposed since it has been left unoccupied and unmaintained for a long period of time.
“This is long overdue,” Alinsug said. “People in that area are really waiting for that project to start. They have problems with rats and some of the trees are overgrown, so we need somebody who will keep it and clean it, and start the project as soon as possible.”
Lynn Principal Planner Aaron Clausen said that the new RFP, which was written with more flexibility regarding the city’s use of space, might take longer to finance since it relies on state and federal affordable housing subsidization.
“What we’ve done with this RFP is we’ve created a little bit more flexibility in the community space that could be developed as part of the project. It could be just a space that the Senior Center could utilize for programming, some other organization serving that constituency, or it could be space that could be open and available for community groups to utilize for public meetings or the city,” Clausen said. “The key difference between this RFP at this stage is that the process for financing affordable housing can take a while because it relies heavily on state and federal subsidy, and there are only so many rounds of funding available to developers, and they’re also very competitive.”
Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at [email protected].