Morning Briefs: Intensifying Uncertainty | Cambridge Housing Deal
8/4/20 11:06 AM
- Business Confidence Slipped in July After Two Months of Gains
- Deal Preserves Affordability of 212 Units Overlooking Charles
Business Confidence Slipped in July After Two Months of Gains
Reversing direction after two months of gains, confidence among Massachusetts employers declined in July, with optimism about the state economy overshadowed by a more significant degree of pessimism over the national economy due to the damage that COVID-19 is inflicting on jobs, business and commerce. Associated Industries of Massachusetts reported Tuesday that its overall business confidence index fell 3.2 points to 45.8, which is 16.2 points lower than this time last year. Index readings below 50 reflect a predominantly pessimistic outlook. The Massachusetts index rose 2 points in July while the national index fell 6.5 points. "Businesses continue to face uncertainty around both the public-health crisis with COVID-19 and the economic crisis brought about by shutdowns and stay-at-home orders," Raymond Torto, professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and chair of AIM's Board of Economic Advisors, said. "The uncertainty will only intensify as cities and towns debate what to do about opening schools in September." BEA member Katherine Kiel, an economics professor at the College of the Holy Cross, said the Massachusetts economy declined at a 43.8 percent annual rate in the second quarter, and employers continue to feel the effects. "The pandemic affected Massachusetts and other northeastern states early and severely during the second quarter so it's not surprising that Massachusetts now has the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 17.4 percent. September will mark a critical juncture in the recovery as we see how many students return to college campuses and how schools handle the start of classes," Kiel said. AIM President and CEO John Regan said the business group is monitoring federal financial support to the unemployment insurance system, which could help to moderate unemployment tax increases for employers, who are facing a $6.6 billion deficit in the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund in the coming years. - Michael P. Norton/SHNS
Deal Preserves Affordability of 212 Units Overlooking Charles
Affordability protections for will be extended for 15 years on 212 high-rise Cambridge apartments along the Charles River under an $87.2 million financing deal with a non-profit announced on Monday. MassHousing reported the financing arrangement with the non-profit Homeowners Rehab Inc. (HRI). The deal will also help pay for the modernization of units located in two buildings on Memorial Drive, which also feature 88 apartments that are rented at market rates. Project overseers plan new windows, balcony doors, kitchens, bathrooms and landscaping, as well as paving and fire alarm upgrades, with construction due to be completed by the end of 2022. "This project encountered a number of challenges over the years and we are very grateful to MassHousing for staying with us and helping meet those challenges. No other lender could have done what MassHousing did," said HRI Executive Director Peter Daly. The financing includes a $61.5 million tax-exempt construction and permanent loan, $24.9 million in taxable and tax-exempt tax credit equity bridge financing, and a $787,763 interest reduction payment loan. MassHousing said the transaction also involved $36.9 million in equity financing from an allocation of low-income housing tax credits, syndicated by RBC, by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. The properties, which also feature commercial and office space, are located at the intersection of Memorial Drive and River Street, with 89 apartments in the 10-story building at 808 Memorial Drive, and 211 apartments in the 19-story building at 810-812 Memorial Drive. The 212 affordable units will be supported for 15 years under a federal Section 8 contract administered by the Cambridge Housing Authority. The general contractor is NEI General Contracting. The architect is Bruner Cott and the management agent is Wingate Management. - Michael P. Norton/SHNS
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