The Dracut Centre School, Dracut - Mayor Thomas M. Menino Legacy Award
The Dracut Centre School is a 2023 Menino Legacy Award recipient! The Dracut Centre School was built in 1898 to serve as a grade school for Dracut children but was forced to close in the early 1980s due to declining school enrollment and budgetary pressures. The building remained and operated as a town hall annex until the construction of a larger town hall building in 2017. The Centre School was then declared surplus property by the Town of Dracut and remained predominately vacant. CBA bid on the development rights to redevelop the historic four-room grade school into nine units of workforce housing for individuals and families earning less than 80% of Area Median Income. The project incorporates a veteran-preference on the units to house a veteran population and gives opportunity to veterans who may be housing insecure but over-income on traditional Federal LIHTC financed affordable housing (60%AMI).
The Dracut Centre School project was supported by the community and created a communal benefit for the Town of Dracut by preserving a piece of local and architectural history. The Town of Dracut’s support for this project was critical to its success, ranging from funding to permitting to the town’s administrative support throughout construction. Greater Lowell Technical School Students built a wooden table for the community room and assembled and finished wood chairs. The redevelopment incorporated some of the original building features, such as the chalkboards and dust coverings on the stairs into the rehabilitated space. The Centre School also included the installation of a bike rack, drought tolerant landscaping, high-efficiency (90%+) water heaters, Energy Star labeled appliances, and recycled materials throughout construction.
The Project was funded using a variety of financing sources including state subsidy through the Community Scale Housing Initiative, Dracut Community Preservation Act funds, state Housing CHOICE funding, state historic tax credits, permanent debt, and foundation equity. This $4.5 million project was able to convert a historic school threatened by demolition into nine units of workforce housing and preserve a piece of Dracut’s’ history. The Dracut Centre School redevelopment was covered by This Old House and featured in the Lowell Sun and an article by NeighborWorks America. The project is a fantastic example of what is possible with municipal, state, non-profit, and private sector support of a project.
For more information visit https://buff.ly/3vAIMiE and congratulations to the project team! @coalitionforabetteracre