January 11, 2011

NDC’s Corporate Equity Fund, L.P. (CEF) Brings Over $4 Million in Tax Credit Equity to the Project

The Franklin Building, situated prominently on Watertown’s Public Square, was built in 1904 as an arcade: a commercial building with retail space accessible from an interior promenade. The building remained in service in this capacity until 1920 when the last tenant, a millinery shop, moved out. The YWCA acquired the building and completed substantial renovations to meet its needs, including the construction of a swimming pool.

When the YWCA moved out in the late 1990s, the building sat vacant and decaying. Water intrusion through the unsound roof had damaged the structure and it was in danger of being lost after the City condemned the building. In 2000, the Watertown Local Development Corporation purchased the property and invested in a new roof and structural repairs, spending $700,000 to bring the building back from the brink of demolition.

WLDC and local non-profit developer, Neighbors of Watertown, Inc., conceptualized a restored Franklin Building with ground floor commercial space and rental residential units on the two floors above. Despite the vision, the building sat idle for another eight years.

But the dedicated development team persisted, and after careful restoration and $4.1 million in LIHTC and Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit (RTC) equity from CEF, the Franklin Building is now alive with activity and firmly reestablished as a downtown landmark. Placed in service in December 2010, the newly-restored Franklin Building houses 13,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space and 16 low-income apartments: four studios, six one-bedroom units and six two-bedroom units.

As construction progressed, the beauty and history of the Franklin Building were slowly revealed. The tin roof ceiling in the interior promenade is intact and the original woodwork and details remain, bringing unique character to the residential units. With completion of the Franklin Building rehabilitation, Watertown not only gained commercial space and affordable housing in a tight market, but the City restored a piece of history in the heart of town. The Franklin Building has a long and storied history but its next chapter is just beginning and the future looks bright.