Core to Eastern Bank’s mission to “less-served” is a decades-long commitment to our Gateway Cities. We have a presence in 12 of the 26 Gateway Cities in Massachusetts, and in Lynn we continue to be one of the largest employers with over 500 employees.
We have been the first bank to open a branch in Chelsea in 10 years (2008), in Lawrence in 23 years (2011) and in Roxbury in more than 20 years (2018). Our commitment is also reflected in taking a leadership role in public/private partnerships with an objective of driving private sector collaboration with nonprofit and government leaders.
A Partnership for the City
In Brockton, The Brockton Partnership is a privately funded group that brings together local business leaders to share knowledge, discuss current events and, when appropriate, support economic development initiatives. The forum facilitates conversation between private business leaders and developers to bring together their common vision. The Brockton Partnership is supported by several local banks including Eastern Bank, as well as Chris Cooney, president & CEO of the Metro South Chamber of Commerce, and Rob May, director of planning and economic development for the city of Brockton.
Darrin DeCoste and Greg Keefe of Stoneridge Mutual Properties, a real estate development company, attended their first Brockton Partnership meeting in 2018. The location of each meeting rotates to highlight different projects and businesses in the city. This time, it was at Trinity Development’s new, $100 million-plus, mixed-use Enterprise Block project in downtown Brockton, comprised of over 200 residential units and additional commercial space. As developers themselves, Darrin and Greg were interested in seeing the Trinity project firsthand and learning how The Brockton Partnership was supporting economic development in the city.
Their interest was, in part, because Stoneridge was about to embark on a new project, Station Apartments. They recently purchased a former office building at 75 Commercial St. in downtown Brockton with plans to convert it to market–rate residential units. The area is well–suited for development with the nearby Brockton commuter rail station providing access to downtown Boston in 30 minutes. With rising home prices, downtown Brockton offers value while still within a reasonable travel distance to and from Boston.
Private Investment Unlocked Near Transit
Stoneridge’s vision is shared by many, as evidenced by the over $500 million in completed and planned public and private investment in downtown Brockton. The latest example is the recently opened Mayor Bill Carpenter Garage. The addition of more parking alongside the commuter rail station will continue to unlock the development potential of the area.
Darrin and Greg – along with their partner, Steve Baylis – are part of the development effort in Brockton, and Station Apartments was the next stage of that development. Their project was well-thought-out and economically feasible. They put their own funds into the building purchase and they were looking for a financing partner.
Touring the vacant office building with Darrin, Greg and Steve and having subsequent conversations resulted in Eastern providing Stoneridge with a $2.6 million construction loan to support the conversion into market-rate housing. Once completed, the 24 units leased up quickly, within three months.
Like The Brockton Partnership, Station Apartments is 100 percent privately financed. And the catalyst was private investment dollars.
The three partners at Stoneridge, all childhood friends from Quincy, are committed to helping revitalize South Shore communities like Brockton. Partnering with Eastern’s commitment to serving under-served communities and the efforts of The Brockton Partnership, this project is an example of groups from across a Gateway City coming together around an economically feasible private development. It’s now leading to new opportunities for Stoneridge, all the people now living in Station Apartments and certainly for the continued economic development for the city of Brockton.
Matthew Osborne is executive vice president and senior commercial banking officer at Eastern Bank, where he leads the commercial real estate group.