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Old 04-06-2016, 09:29 AM   #21
reverend_paco
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Re: Lowell 2015 update

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I agree. At some point these cities need to do more to place bets on themselves using TIF financing of transit. Where (to which part of the Lowell City budget) are all the new taxes on these lofts going? Maybe its already spent on paving and striping?

The streetcars are a very minimal system (simple tracks, simple signals, simple power supply). and mostly on dedicated ROW too--precisely the kind of thing that gets a Small Starts grant or even self-funded.

The article quoted a memo internal to the city council that quoted a $100 million cost. That sounds a lot, but I know nothing about these costs (I'm still in shock regarding the GLX).

An earlier article, had an original cost of $66 million. Link here.

Quote:
The federal grants will fund designs for an expansion of the current trolley rail system to the Gallagher Terminal and along Father Morrissette Boulevard to UMass Lowell's East Campus.

"This is pretty darn exciting news after 25 years of hoping and planning," said Lowell National Historical Park Superintendent Michael Creasey.

Last year, officials from the city, UMass Lowell, the National Park and city business leaders released study findings that concluded a year-round trolley system that would stretch from the Gallagher Terminal to the university and nearby LeLacheur Park was a realistic possibility.

The project would expand the trolley system from 1.5 miles to 6.9 miles of track, with trains leaving 20 stops around the city every 10 minutes.

The study envisions about 800,000 riders each year, and estimates the total construction cost would be about $66 million, with annual operation and maintenance costs of about $3.3 million.
It's sad that the entire project was thrown out. Potentially going from 1.5 miles of tracks to 6.9 is an infeasible capital outlay, but certainly one could start by connecting Gallagher with the downtown.

My guess is that there is just no champion within Lowell to make these arguments. The recent change in the council, (new city manager and all), and the parting of ways with Trinity Financial probably doomed this effort.
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Old 04-06-2016, 03:12 PM   #22
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Re: Lowell 2015 update

Just as Bostonians should ask where all the incremental RE taxes from the Seaport went (if not for Seaport transportation), so folks in Lowell should ask where all the incremental RE taxes from these loft-conversions are going.

Seriously. Where is it going? Not schools (these aren't "family" units). So where?
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Old 04-06-2016, 06:17 PM   #23
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Re: Lowell 2015 update

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Originally Posted by reverend_paco View Post
The article quoted a memo internal to the city council that quoted a $100 million cost. That sounds a lot, but I know nothing about these costs (I'm still in shock regarding the GLX).

An earlier article, had an original cost of $66 million. Link here.



It's sad that the entire project was thrown out. Potentially going from 1.5 miles of tracks to 6.9 is an infeasible capital outlay, but certainly one could start by connecting Gallagher with the downtown.

My guess is that there is just no champion within Lowell to make these arguments. The recent change in the council, (new city manager and all), and the parting of ways with Trinity Financial probably doomed this effort.
Im surprised - thought the extension through the campus of UMass Lowell would definitely get done. Sooner or later Im sure it will happen, though... Lowell is primed for significant changes in the next 20 years.
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Old 04-07-2016, 02:54 PM   #24
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Re: Lowell 2015 update

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Im surprised - thought the extension through the campus of UMass Lowell would definitely get done. Sooner or later Im sure it will happen, though... Lowell is primed for significant changes in the next 20 years.
Lowell really needs to study the Kenosha, WI streetcar in-depth, since that is regarded as 'the' national model for successful and transit-useful startups of a modern-day heritage streetcar operation in a midsize/secondary city trying to revitalize its post- industrial wipeout downtown. Indeed, Kenosha and Lowell are eerily similar cities. A close match on:
  • Population (99K for Kenosha, 109K for Lowell)
  • Secondary city inside the census area of a larger metro area (Kenosha 50 miles north of Chicago on I-94 vs. Lowell 25 north miles of Boston on US 3/etc.)
  • 'Satellite' college town (UMass has 3x as many students as UW-Parkside, but Gateway Technical College is 1-1/2x bigger than Middlesex CC and there's 5 other small four-year schools with in Kenosha)
  • Intermodal connections (downtown Kenosha the outer terminal stop on Metra's UP-North commuter rail line and bus terminal for the WCTA regional transit authority; downtown Lowell the same for the Lowell Line and LRTA)
  • Similar industrial histories, similarly-timed industrial crashes, similarly planned economic reboots towards tech/educational economies, similarly robust recent growth (Kenosha a bit further ahead than Lowell, but started its turnaround earlier).
  • Similar residential trending towards middle-class commuting professionals (Kenosha w/ midpoint access to Chicago and Milwaukee job markets, Lowell w/ midpoint access to Boston and New Hampshire Capitol Corridor job markets).
  • Similar tourism-oriented revitalization plans for the former industrial areas in the CBD (Kenosha's lakefront district, Lowell's canal district).
The Kenosha streetcar loops for 2 miles around HarborPark, the Lake Michigan-facing development zone at the heart of their juiciest sampler of mixed-use redev, tourist spaces, and downtown office space. It's like the better-executed/better-integrated twin of the Lowell National Historical Park district around the canals. The difference is that the Kenosha Streetcar was a whole-cloth launch in 2000 that was part-and-parcel a core component of the civic revitalization plan for that district. The National Streetcar Museum at Lowell Nat'l Historical Park has been around since 1978 as a satellite outpost of Seashore Trolley Museum of Kennebunkport, ME...a survivor of the end-stage industrial decay era in Lowell, but never drawn all that tightly into the revitalization master plan. It is still a tenant of downtown perceived as a periphery draw that doesn't stick its head above any of the other assortment of civic attractions they're building the revitalization around. Rather than zeroed-in as the engine for revitalization. Kenosha, being a fresh-start system with much higher initial financial risk, had to sell it as the centerpiece to justify its existence. Lowell, despite starting with the big advantage of a pre-existing streetcar run by the one of the biggest/best nonprofit trolley museums in the country, didn't have the same gun to its head pushing those optics. I guess you could call that a whiff on their part, but it's really just different existential circumstances forcing different choices when they were sorting through their master plan options.


Now's the time, however, to learn from Kenosha on how to leverage this asset as a driver for growth. If there were two cities screaming to become official sister cities, it's hard to find a more perfect match than Lowell and Kenosha. Kenosha took the same general blueprint and, through better overall organization and follow-through, stuck to its revitalization plan. To the point where Kenosha is now outpacing the surrounding region economically (the Milwaukee-Chicago corridor and Wisconsin in general being somewhat soft/stagnant on growth the last 5 years compared to Greater Boston). Not that Lowell hasn't executed, but there's an excellent case study in this Kenosha comparison for what fruits a more thoroughly aggressive follow-through earns.

Across the board, though certainly the streetcar is one of Kenosha's most nationally known recent successes. And Lowell already possesses the infrastructure, the know-how in the Seashore partnership, and some degree of local mindshare built up over 38 years of the canal trolley. Now they just have to realize how easy they have it with the pieces already in-place...i.e. no need for the all-or-nothing leap Kenosha made with its decision to start fresh. Just hone the killer instinct for how the streetcar can be a central driver for CBD revitalization, and execute. Get that streetcar across the canal to a loop in front of the commuter rail station/bus terminal. Plot the route map and potential spurs around Nat'l Historical Park so it traps the right mix of job centers, tourism, residential, and academic. And deepen the partnership with Seashore so they've got full-service maintenance facilities and a compelling revenue motive for running this as a bit more robust an operation than just a minimalist museum annex. They can do this very easily. It's all about how they cast it in its role: is the streetcar a central driver, or an ancillary attraction.
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Old 04-07-2016, 03:06 PM   #25
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Re: Lowell 2015 update

Not exactly atonement for the shelved streetcar expansion, but this should significantly improve walkability in the area, particularly in getting from the commuter rail station to downtown --

City plan: Remove Lord Overpass
Vision puts streets at one level, makes area pedestrian-friendly

Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/todaysheadl...#ixzz45Amr3qU8

The original plan was essentially a re-build of the existing overpass, but it ran into a lot of public pushback.
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Old 04-22-2016, 12:18 PM   #26
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Re: Lowell 2015 update

CityLab has a take on the Lord Overpass plan: http://www.citylab.com/cityfixer/201...models/479343/

I don't know enough about Lowell to understand how the redo will affect the area - but if all it's doing (for cars, at least) is bringing a highway up to ground level (without dropping speeds), I don't see how it's an improvement over the "huge divide" that's currently there (per Lowell Sun article).
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Old 04-24-2016, 05:30 PM   #27
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Re: Lowell 2015 update

Option 3 is nothing less than a traffic planner's wet dream and a vulnerable road users worst nightmare.
I love how the advance yield lines "sharks teeth" are located at the travel lane merge not before the crosswalk - 'cus it's OK to slam your car into a lowly pedestrian, but terrible to have a fender bender with another car. With the large diameter right hand turn lanes encouraging high speed turns, there is no way this can be safe for people on foot or on bike.

All three "options" are on the City's website here: http://www.lowellma.gov/dpd/planning...to-Lowell.aspx

I think its time for the City to step back and rethink this whole mess and make it safe for people on foot and on bike.

Last edited by Randomgear; 04-25-2016 at 11:10 AM.
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Old 05-20-2016, 09:15 AM   #28
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Re: Lowell 2015 update

$31.5M OK'd for Lowell Judicial Center



LOWELL -- Finally.

Construction is expected to begin this fall in the empty lot where the city's new $200 million judicial center is planned.

http://www.lowellsun.com/news/ci_299...udicial-center
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Old 05-20-2016, 09:19 AM   #29
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Re: Lowell 2015 update

438-bed private dorm proposed for Downtown Lowell site

LOWELL -- College students in Lowell would have a new downtown living option with features they could brag to their friends about if a 438-bed housing development presented to the Planning Board Monday is approved.

The five-story building would feature an outdoor fire pit, a weight room, a game room and indoor bike storage, along with a dedicated shuttle bus taking residents to UMass Lowell.

Earlier Monday, UMass Lowell officials celebrated the opening of a much smaller but similar project. A building just down the street from University Crossing on Pawtucket Street has six residential units, all targeted for UMass Lowell students.

Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/todaysheadl...#ixzz49CoX5rum
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Old 05-20-2016, 10:45 AM   #30
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Re: Lowell 2015 update

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$31.5M OK'd for Lowell Judicial Center



LOWELL -- Finally.

http://www.lowellsun.com/news/ci_299...udicial-center

Holy Smokes... Yes -- Finally.
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Old 06-02-2016, 06:15 PM   #31
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Re: Lowell 2015 update

Winn Management has become the new master developer for the Lowell Hamilton Canal District.

This is the role that Trinity Financial played before it "gave-up" working with the council and the city.

http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/re...future-of.html

2008 was tough, and now with $ earmarked for the Judicial Center, and the Lord Overpass fixing, Lupoli fixing up Thorndike St, we might have all the pieces to extend the gem that is the downtown Lowell all the way to the gateway.
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Old 06-04-2016, 10:40 AM   #32
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Re: Lowell 2015 update

City manager fuming over UMass purchase, lack of communication

http://www.lowellsun.com/todaysheadl...-purchase-lack

Have to agree with the city here. UML sat on the abandoned mill for years and didn't renovate it. When private developers finally did, UML now wants to scoop it up and take it off the tax rolls. It's a giant development by Lowell standards and includes its own parking garage, renovated mills and new construction apartments.
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Old 06-05-2016, 11:44 AM   #33
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Re: Lowell 2015 update

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Originally Posted by Smuttynose View Post
City manager fuming over UMass purchase, lack of communication

http://www.lowellsun.com/todaysheadl...-purchase-lack

Have to agree with the city here. UML sat on the abandoned mill for years and didn't renovate it. When private developers finally did, UML now wants to scoop it up and take it off the tax rolls. It's a giant development by Lowell standards and includes its own parking garage, renovated mills and new construction apartments.
Communication could have been better but i received my degree from UML, so I have a little insight on this. It was a great decision for UML to scoop that up, the state has been giving less to the universities over the years and things are getting tight when it comes to big capital projects. For 61.5 million dollars that is a steal and it would have cost far more to build something of that size with that much housing for that many students. Overall, it was a amazing business decision for UML.

Communication could have been better like I said but UML can get away with a lot because of the nature of Lowell. It has a lot of problems and most of the nice parts of Lowell are UML. If it was not for the university that city would be having a lot more of a hard time. 380,000 in tax dollars is a drop in the bucket compared to what UML does for the city and the money it brings in.

Plus this property and the Notini & Sons land really brings together east campus and the Tsongas center finally.
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Old 06-05-2016, 02:03 PM   #34
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Re: Lowell 2015 update

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Communication could have been better like I said but UML can get away with a lot because of the nature of Lowell. It has a lot of problems and most of the nice parts of Lowell are UML. If it was not for the university that city would be having a lot more of a hard time. 380,000 in tax dollars is a drop in the bucket compared to what UML does for the city and the money it brings in.
I agree. Lowell would look a lot like Lawrence Massachusetts if Umass Lowell wasn't there. UML is the reason why Lowell isn't as blighted/poor as Lawrence.
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Old 09-16-2016, 12:09 PM   #35
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Re: Lowell 2015 update

The Lupoli-driven Thorndike Exchange (former Comfort Furniture next to the commuter rail station) is closer to happening. Lowell's historic board passed the development through:

http://www.lowellsun.com/breakingnew...change-project

Quote:
Lupoli will preserve much of the red bricks and mortar of the former Comfort Bedding & Furniture building that overlooks the Gallagher Transportation Terminal. But penthouses units will be enclosed in glass, giving at least a portion of the building a futuristic look.

"I'm glad the Historic Board is looking beyond the red bricks and mortar while endorsing our plan to marry the old with the new," Lupoli added.

The city's Planning Board gave its approval to the project last month. The number of planned apartments at Thorndike Exchange has increased to 152, from 118. A total of 82 residential units will have one bedroom, and 58 will have two bedrooms. There will be 12 studios.

It will include two restaurants and 31,000 square-feet of commercial space, only slightly more than half of what was first planned. The project will rely on about 160 parking spaces at the adjacent Gallagher Terminal, with a planned enclosed footbridge between the mill and garage that would be built next spring.
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Old 10-25-2016, 11:49 AM   #36
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Re: Lowell 2015 update

This could be a bit of a gamechanger for Lowell. Virtually all of the residential growth Downtown, with the exception of the private dorm, has been reuse and redevelopment and not new construction.

LUXURY CONDO PROJECT: High-end living on Lowell's Lower Locks





Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/ci_30503865...#ixzz4O7Fdbm5r

LOWELL - High-end condominiums - 63 to be exact - are envisioned for a new building just off Lower Locks, with prices not often seen in Lowell: between $400,000 to potentially as high as $900,000.

The luxury condos would be in a new building on Merrimack Street overlooking the Concord River. It will feature a glass facade with touches of limestone that echo the stately architecture of the nearby Lowell Memorial Auditorium and Middlesex Community College's Federal Building. If the project goes forward, it will be the ninth substantial housing development approved in Lowell that, taken collectively, is dynamically changing the downtown residential landscape...

Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/ci_30503865...#ixzz4O7GzCDsc
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Old 10-25-2016, 05:08 PM   #37
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Re: Lowell 2015 update

^
This is great!! A few years ago I would have been shocked that anyone would pay 900k for an apartment in Lowell. This city has gone a long way. Now if only Lawrence could have revitalization like this.
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Old 11-04-2016, 07:33 PM   #38
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Re: Lowell 2015 update

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Originally Posted by Smuttynose View Post
This could be a bit of a gamechanger for Lowell. Virtually all of the residential growth Downtown, with the exception of the private dorm, has been reuse and redevelopment and not new construction.

LUXURY CONDO PROJECT: High-end living on Lowell's Lower Locks





Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/ci_30503865...#ixzz4O7Fdbm5r

LOWELL - High-end condominiums - 63 to be exact - are envisioned for a new building just off Lower Locks, with prices not often seen in Lowell: between $400,000 to potentially as high as $900,000.

The luxury condos would be in a new building on Merrimack Street overlooking the Concord River. It will feature a glass facade with touches of limestone that echo the stately architecture of the nearby Lowell Memorial Auditorium and Middlesex Community College's Federal Building. If the project goes forward, it will be the ninth substantial housing development approved in Lowell that, taken collectively, is dynamically changing the downtown residential landscape...

Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/ci_30503865...#ixzz4O7GzCDsc

Holy Smokes. That would be beautiful, but my internal skeptic thinks that there is no way a $900K condo would sell down there. I say this as a huge Lowell fan (I still own two condos there and lived there for eight years).
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Old 11-04-2016, 07:50 PM   #39
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Re: Lowell 2015 update

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Holy Smokes. That would be beautiful, but my internal skeptic thinks that there is no way a $900K condo would sell down there. I say this as a huge Lowell fan (I still own two condos there and lived there for eight years).
This site seemed familiar. I remember when this site was sold.
http://www.lowellsun.com/news/ci_246...lowell-gateway

Interesting youtube from 3 years ago right after the sale on the parcel.
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Old 02-09-2017, 11:01 AM   #40
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Re: Lowell 2015 update

It looks like Lowell cannot catch a break:

http://www.lowellsun.com/todaysheadl...hamilton-canal

Quote:
Winn Development became the second company to resign as master developer for Lowell's Hamilton Canal District after both city leaders and residents voiced a desire to have little to no residential development within the district.

The move caught several city councilors by surprise, though Mayor Ed Kennedy said he had an inkling it was coming.

"I think that the majority of the City Council is interested in going with commercial development in the Hamilton Canal District and I think Winn's expertise is in residential development," Kennedy said.

Winn was the only company to submit a bid to be master developer after Trinity Financial resigned in May 2015, under pressure from city leaders to speed up development of the $800 million, 13-acre district.

Winn, based in Boston but with offices and several properties in Lowell, was selected by a unanimous vote of the City Council in May, but even then there were indications that the council wanted to move away from having residential units in the district.
Luckily the Judicial Center is proceeding and Sal Lupoli's Thorndike Exchange is going ahead, or I would pronounce this city cursed.
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