New Plan for an Old Building in Lynn


October 18, 2016
By Thomas Grillo/The Daily Item

Built as a storehouse for arms, the next life for the Lynn Armory could be housing for vets.

The Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development (LHAND), whose mission is to assist low- and moderate-income families, individuals and veterans with safe and affordable housing, has proposed to buy the 123-year-old landmark on South Common Street.

“The historical significance of this building would make a great spot for veterans housing,” said Jeff Weeden, LHAND’s planning and development manager. “That’s a great story.”

Facade of old armory building that is a romanesque-style brick building


Once a place to store arms, the Lynn Armory could become a home for veterans under a plan by the Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development (LHAND).

The plan was submitted to the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM), the agency that handles the state’s real estate. It has declared the 37,602-square-foot armory and a storage building behind it as surplus property. Under the proposal, the nonprofit would transform the Romanesque-style building that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places into 20 so-called micro-units, tiny apartments that measure between 250 and 350 square feet.  

Last week, DCAMM scheduled an auction on the three-story facility for November. But the housing authority’s plan cancels the public sale to the highest bidder since the city has the right of first refusal.

The next step is an appraisal. DCAMM and LHAND will then negotiate a price. The property is assessed at $1.7 million by the city.

“Once the appraisal is done, we will discuss it further with the state to see if our housing plan is feasible,” Weeden said.

James M. Cowdell, executive director of the Lynn Economic Development & Industrial Corp., said turning the vacant armory into housing for veterans makes sense and LHAND has the experience to do it right.

“The city is proud of all of the projects they have done, and I am 100 percent confident in their ability,” he said. “The housing authority is aiming for 0 percent homelessness among vets, so this fits nicely.”

Earlier this year, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development praised the city for what has been called a minor miracle — the elimination of homelessness among veterans in Lynn.

LHAND spearheaded the local battle to take veterans off the street by getting them one-on-one counseling and getting them services provided by federal Veterans Affairs workers.

Thomas Grillo can be reached at


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