UPDATE: This story has been updated to include a statement from New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell.

NEW BEDFORD — A former 19th century orphanage in New Bedford has been sold to a developer who plans to turn it into mostly affordable housing, according to a release from the state.

Governor Maura Healey's administration said Monday that the state has closed on the sale of the former St. Mary's Home for Children on Kempton Street to Cruz Development Corporation.

The Roxbury-based company aims to develop the 1.4-acre property into 28 mixed-income rental units, with 70% of them affordable and 30% market rate, the release noted.

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The developer also plans to create an outdoor play area and parking lot at the proposed housing complex.

State officials said they identified the property in 2021 as an opportunity to address housing needs in New Bedford, and Cruz was selected as the developer in July 2021.

According to the company's website, Cruz Development is a third-generation family business and one of the oldest and largest minority-owned firms in the region.

"593 Kempton Street represents just one of many state-owned properties that we can utilize for housing," Healey said.

"This is a critical means of meeting our goals of increasing housing production across the state and lowering costs," she added.

"That’s why I’ve directed our administration to identify other sites across the state that could be used for this purpose as well."

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said the preservation of the "historic property" has been a priority of his administration for a long time.

"We look forward to a discussion with the developer to see how the project might fit with the City’s recently released housing plan," he added.

Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll commented, "The sale of 593 Kempton Street exemplifies our administration’s commitment to marshalling our resources to create and identify housing for families across the Commonwealth."

"We applaud the state's drive for better and more affordable housing opportunities in Gateway Cities like New Bedford," Cruz Development CEO John Cruz III said.

"Our opportunity to reimagine several historic sites in this community, including the former school at 593 Kempton Street, reflects our longevity and commitment to the area— and will help bring 80-plus new units of affordable housing in total across this site and others."

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