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NewsApr 8, 2022

Lesley announces sale of 1627 Mass. Ave. property

Transaction will add to Cambridge’s stock of affordable housing, advance university campus strategy and investments

Photo of 1627 Mass. Ave., the former Lesley Admissions building
Lesley has agreed to sell 1627 Massachusetts Ave. to a Cambridge-based affordable-housing non-profit.

This week, Lesley and the city of Cambridge announced the future sale of the university-owned property at 1627 Massachusetts Ave. — the former Undergraduate Admissions and Visitor Services Center — to a local nonprofit.

The university recently agreed to sell the historic property to Homeowner’s Rehabilitation Inc. (HRI), a Cambridge-based non-profit developer of affordable housing. HRI has provided affordable housing since 1972 and has extensive experience with the adaptive reuse of historic buildings and in new construction of affordable housing.

“Knowing how great the need is for affordable housing in Cambridge, Lesley made a significant financial contribution by accepting a lower offer to make this transaction possible,” President Janet L. Steinmayer wrote this week in a message to the Lesley community. “We think this is an excellent outcome for the city and are proud of the investment that Lesley is making to create new housing opportunities in our community.”

Proceeds from the sale will be reinvested in a range of capital improvements to yield significantly better facilities overall with greater energy efficiency, sustainability, and accessibility, the president explained.

“When we announced our Campus Plan last fall, we shared our vision for how we will invest significantly to improve our facilities and organize each campus to serve a clear purpose within the university’s larger mission,” President Steinmayer added. “To realize this vision and to use our physical space more efficiently, we offered for sale several buildings that are either underutilized, vacant, or not well-suited to our programmatic needs.”

photo of 1627 Mass. Ave.
Lesley has agreed to sell 1627 Massachusetts Ave. to a Cambridge-based non-profit. The sale will increase the city's affordable-housing stock and advance the university's Campus Plan.

HRI’s purchase will be funded in part by the city’s Affordable Housing Trust. Once the sale is finalized, HRI will hold community meetings and work with city staff to develop its plans to ensure the best possible outcome for the community.

“Repurposing this historic building in a great location for affordable housing is the exact outcome that we hoped for, and I am grateful that Lesley University, HRI, and the Affordable Housing Trust were able to work together to make it happen,” said Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui. “We need to continue to be creative about finding opportunities to provide more affordable housing in Cambridge, and this purchase is another step in the right direction.”

The building, which is currently the subject of a landmark study by the Cambridge Historical Commission, dates to 1862 and was originally the home of Cambridge Mayor Charles H. Saunders.

“We think it is very fitting that this distinguished property will be renovated and repurposed to serve such a critical need in our community,” President Steinmayer said.