Since the establishment of the Lowell Development and Financial Corporation (LDFC) in the mid-1970s, Downtown Lowell has enjoyed an on-going renaissance that has proven to be a national model for the revitalization of post-industrial cities. Over 5 million square feet of vacant mill buildings have been restored and reoccupied with new uses, thousands of new residents have moved into market-rate housing in the Downtown, dozens of new businesses have opened, and Downtown Lowell continues to be envied by other Gateway Cities in Massachusetts and across the country.
The Great Recession has had significant consequences on real estate development and property values throughout the region and Downtown Lowell has not avoided this trend. As a result the pace of major development projects has slowed but hardly stopped. Since the recession began, Downtown Lowell has seen the opening of the Lofts at Perkins Park in the Lawrence Mills, the new Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union corporate offices at the Tremont Yards, the Appleton Mills artist live/work community, the Western Avenue Lofts, and the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center, among other projects. Construction is currently underway on the Lowell Community Health Center, the 110 Canal Street office building, the Boott Mills West Mill apartments and offices, and the Gates Block, along with several smaller projects. The businesses that have opened new or expanded their facilities in Downtown recently include: Fuse Bistro, the Flower Mill, Gallagher & Cavanaugh, Major’s Pub, Nexenta Systems, and Meerkat Technology, among others.
While all City Administrations have consistently reported on the status of Downtown to the City Council and the public over the past several decades, the attached report is believed to be the first effort by a City Manager in more than 30 years to respond directly and specifically to the charge included in the legislation that created the LDFC that the Manager make annual reports to the City Council as to the status of development in Downtown Lowell. The report was prepared by the Department of Planning and Development in response to a motion approved by the Lowell City Council. Economic Development staff including Theresa Park, Maria Dickinson, and Erin Findlen deserve particular credit for their efforts to document and assemble this material.